Hello, readers. In today’s briefing: Pro-gun protests were sparsely attended this weekend, while anti-gun violence protestors shut down a Chicago highway. Cell phone videos contradict a Texas man’s self-defense shooting claims. And two links for getting up to speed on the gun rights records of two of President Trump’s potential SCOTUS picks. Those stories and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Thousands of anti-gun violence demonstrators shut down a major highway in Chicago. After an hour-long standoff on Saturday morning, during which state police threatened to arrest anyone who walked onto the Dan Ryan Expressway, protestors were allowed into the northbound lanes. Their ranks notably included Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who walked alongside prominent anti-violence activist Rev. Michael Pfleger. Bruce Rauner, Illinois’s Republican governor who has opposed new gun safety laws, called the highway shutdown “unacceptable.” Block Club Chicago has a good collection of photos from the scene.
Meanwhile, student-led pro-gun rallies drew sparse crowds. Organizing for the series of protests began in April and was headed up by young people vying to counter the momentum of the March for Our Lives movement. Turnout was not what organizers had hoped: No more than a few dozen people attended rallies in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. In Palm Beach, only 13 people showed up.
Survey says: Democrats have an edge among voters who rank guns as their top midterm issue. That’s according to a new Washington Post-Schar School poll, which found that gun laws place fourth (ahead of taxes) among issues named as the single most important concern among registered voters. Half of the voters naming guns as their foremost concern are Democrats, possibly indicating a reversal from past cycles, when some Republican candidates have been buoyed by single-issue gun voters on the right.
Staffers at the Capital Gazette say reporter Wendi Winters charged the gunman and saved their lives. Winters was among the five employees killed on June 28. Sales rep Janel Cooley told the Baltimore Sun that when the gunman entered the newsroom after shooting through its glass front door, Winters lunged forward holding recycling bins and yelling at him. “She may have distracted him enough that he forgot about me because I definitely stood up and was looking at the door,” Cooley said. Winters had taken an active shooter training where she learned “fight only if you must.” Those who knew her said that protecting and caring for those around her was in Winters’s nature.
A 2-year-old in California fatally shot himself in the head on Saturday. Police are investigating the incident, which took place at a Fresno home, to determine who the gun belonged to and how the child got ahold of it. Across the country, a 4-year-old injured himself after he pulled a gun out of his mother’s purse in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The child’s parents were charged with unlawful neglect of a child.
A Texas man shot his teenage neighbor during a dispute over Fourth of July fireworks, then tried to claim self-defense. Jason Roche, 41, began arguing with Devonte Ortiz, 19, in the parking lot of an Austin apartment complex over fireworks Ortiz and his friends were setting off. Roche called the police on the young men, but by the time officers arrived, Ortiz had been shot dead. Roche said Ortiz lunged at him and he fired in self-defense, but multiple videos recorded at the scene show Roche shooting Ortiz as he walked away from him. Roche has been charged with first-degree murder.
ONE LAST THING
At least two of Trump’s potential Supreme Court picks are Second Amendment hardliners. One shortlisted jurist, Thomas Hardiman, sits on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals and has written that carrying a gun in public is a constitutional right. (The Supreme Court itself has thus far only ruled that there is a right to keep guns in the home.) He also believes that, so long as crimes were not violent, many convicted criminals should be able to recover the right to own and carry weapons.
Another frontrunner, 6th Circuit judge Raymond Kethledge, has also ruled in cases regarding prohibitions on gun ownership. In 2016, Kethledge ruled that Michigan violated the rights of a man who was involuntarily institutionalized nearly 30 years earlier, and had since been prohibited from owning or possessing a gun.
President Trump is scheduled to announce his choice to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement at the end of June, during a live address at 9 p.m. Eastern on Monday.