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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Study Examines Why California’s Universal Background Check System Isn’t Reducing Gun Deaths

Good morning, Bulletin readers. With new legislation that would ban guns at protests, Virginia’s attorney general thinks he can prevent a repeat of the chaotic violence in Charlottesville last year. Plus, a new study suggests that without adequate records reporting, state universal background check laws have no clear path for reducing gun violence.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: A bill in Virginia would allow cities to ban guns at protests. In response to last year’s violent right-wing protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, Attorney General Mark Herring introduced legislation last week aimed at combating violent extremism. Among the bills is a measure that would amend the state’s pre-emption statute to let local governments ban guns from public events. Alex Yablon takes a look at the legislation, which experts say could set a nationwide precedent for giving municipalities and counties full authority to regulate guns on their own terms, here.

Implementing background checks had no effect on gun violence in California. University of California, Davis study of gun homicide and suicide rates in the 10 years after the state passed comprehensive background check reform found no change in either kind of death rate. Researchers believe incomplete records and lack of compliance are among the possible explanations. What does work? With $10 million in initial grants, a new effort from the RAND Corporation hopes to find out. The program will fund research into policies that can reduce gun violence. “We know shockingly little about the effects of gun laws,” a RAND spokesman said, citing reduced federal funding of scientific research into gun violence.

A shoe company launched a $5 million anti-gun-violence campaign. The Toms company announced that the funds will go to organizations working to end gun violence by addressing issues like urban crime, domestic violence, mental health, and suicide. The company’s founder, a Thousand Oaks resident, said that, after the mass shooting there, his wife told him: “We’re not safe. Somebody’s got to do something.”

Alcohol misuse is linked to unsafe gun storage practices, according to a new study in JAMA Pediatrics. Researchers surveyed Washington State residents about their alcohol consumption, firearm ownership and storage practices, and whether they had children in their households. They concluded that adults who misuse alcohol are more likely to leave guns loaded and unlocked, putting kids in their homes at risk. Related: A 2017 study showed that gun owners convicted of an alcohol-related offense were up to five times more likely to be arrested for a violent or gun-related crime than those who had not.

A federal judge upheld Maryland’s bump stock ban. On Friday, U.S. District Judge James Bredar dismissed a challenge to a state ban on devices that allow semiautomatic weapons to mimic the rate of fire of fully automatic rifles. He wrote in his opinion that the plaintiff, the gun rights group Maryland Shall Issue, failed to prove that the ban violated their constitutional rights.

A New Jersey gun group launched a challenge to the state’s high-capacity magazine ban. In June, New Jersey passed a law prohibiting most gun owners from magazines holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Now gun rights advocates are challenging it in court. They argue that magazine limits unfairly punish homeowners because criminals won’t abide by the new rules.

Federal air marshals are accused of misusing guns. The Transportation Security Administration’s Office of Inspection documented more than 200 cases of federal air marshals misbehaving with guns over the last dozen years, from leaving them in stores and bathrooms to drinking while armed. In 19 of the cases, air marshals allegedly fired their weapons unintentionally.

In Florida, a judge dismissed an NRA lobbyist’s harassment lawsuit. Marion Hammer, the most successful gun lobbyist in the country, filed suit against a California attorney who sent her emails featuring graphic images of gunshot wounds after the Parkland shooting. In the ruling, the federal judge called the emails “disgusting” but concluded that they’re protected by the First Amendment.

Gun rights advocates want to secede from Washington State. After voters in Washington state passed a package of gun restrictions, a local National Rifle Association leader joined an NRA-backed state representative in calling for the eastern half of the state to secede and form a new state called “Liberty.” “Just a few counties on the west side obliterated the unified vote of eastern Washington,” the secession group wrote in a statement. “There is only one solution — Liberty State.”

A toddler in California shot herself in the foot with her dad’s gun. The 3-year-old’s father was arrested after police say they found evidence that the girl shot herself. The girl’s mother initially told police she was injured in a drive-by shooting.

ONE LAST THING

Kids on lockdown drills, in their own words. Mother Jones photographed and interviewed more than a dozen elementary school children about what it’s like for them to prepare for a potential shooting. Says one second-grader: “It feels kind of scary because if someone comes into your school trying to kill you, you could actually die. But if you’re safe and you do a lockdown and you stay quiet and hide, then it’ll probably go OK.”