Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[AP/David Goldman]

Daily Bulletin: A Gunman in Bakersfield, California, Killed Five People

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A shooting rampage claimed the lives of five people in Southern California. Amnesty International is criticizing the U.S. government for allowing gun violence to become a human rights crisis. And prosecutions of straw purchasers are up in Pennsylvania. More in today’s bulletin. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

A gunman in Bakersfield, California, killed five people. In what authorities believe was a case of domestic violence, a Southern California man shot his wife and two men working at a trucking company, then killed two more people at a private home. When the gunman was confronted by a sheriff’s deputy, he shot and killed himself.

Protesters are taking to the streets of Dallas after an unarmed black man was shot in his home. Following tense protests in downtown Dallas on Monday evening, demonstrators continued to put pressure on lawmakers to punish the police officer who killed Botham Jean in his apartment last week. On Wednesday, Mayor Mike Rawlings called a recess at a city council meeting after it was interrupted by a group of protesters.

Straw purchase prosecutions in Pennsylvania jumped after the state passed its 2012 sentencing law. That’s according to a new study from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health comparing prosecutions in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The study found that prosecutions rose in Pennsylvania after it passed a law imposing mandatory sentences for straw purchasers, while prosecutions dropped in Maryland after a court ruling weakened its straw purchasing laws. “The main takeaway from our paper is that the language of the law really matters,” one of the researchers said. From The Trace archives: Measuring the effectiveness of straw purchasing laws at the state level is notoriously difficult, and federal prosecutions are rare. According to a new government report, less than a tenth of 1 percent of people who lied on their gun background check forms — a federal crime — were prosecuted during the last fiscal year.

A California judge overturned a 95-year-old ban on handgun ads at gun stores. State officials had argued that the 1923 law, which made it illegal for gun shops to display advertisements for pistols that were visible from outside the store, would prevent violence and suicide. On Tuesday, an Obama-appointed judge rejected the law, ruling that it violates the First Amendment.

A gun show was postponed because of public concern about violence. The board of the Del Mar Fairgrounds in California, which has hosted the gun show for 30 years, voted on Tuesday to suspend the event until it can formulate a policy that bans guns and ammunition. Gun safety advocates have been pressuring the company for months to end the expo, which they say makes the community less safe.

A teenager was fatally shot outside a Las Vegas high school. Police say the 18-year-old victim was killed near his school’s baseball field on Tuesday afternoon while school was in session.

ONE LAST THING

American gun violence is a human rights crisis, says Amnesty International. In a new report, the non-governmental organization says that all aspects of American life have been compromised by a wide availability of guns and a dearth of regulations. The report also found that young men of color in the United States are 20 times more likely to be gunned down than their white counterparts.

“The U.S. government is prioritizing gun ownership over basic human rights,” Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said in a statement. “While many solutions have been offered, there has been a stunning lack of political will to save lives.” The organization offers a range of recommendations to reduce gun deaths, including expanded background checks, investment in community-based gun-violence-prevention programs, and a comprehensive licensing and regulation system for gun ownership.