Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle]

Daily Bulletin: A Bill in Congress Would Require Universal Background Checks for Ammunition

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: Democrats in Congress are pushing to bring back landmark domestic violence protections, this time with stiffer gun restrictions for abusive partners. A federal bill named for a Parkland victim would expand background checks to ammunition sales. And a woman who persevered through the loss of three family members to gun violence won a special election in Pennsylvania.

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The House Judiciary Committee voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, enacted in 1994, had been reauthorized three times before Republicans allowed it to expire while the party controlled the previous Congress. The revived bill includes new provisions that would ban guns for people convicted of violent misdemeanors or abusive partners subject to court orders. The measure now heads to the floor for a full vote.

A bill in Congress would require universal background checks for ammunition. “Jaime’s Law” is named for Jaime Guttenberg, a 14-year-old girl who was killed in the Parkland shooting. Her father, Fred Guttenberg, joined lawmakers  Wednesday on Capitol Hill to introduce the measure. Here’s a deep dive on vetting ammo buyers, a policy experiment underway in California.

A woman who lost several family members to shootings won an election in Pennsylvania. Movita Johnson-Harrell was elected Tuesday to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. Johnson-Harrell, who lost her father, a brother, and her 18-year-old son to gun violence, ran on a gun violence prevention platform. She previously worked for the Victim Services Division of the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

Virginia’s governor vetoed a bill to expand gun rights. The measure would have automatically granted out-of-state residents a temporary concealed carry permit if Virginia State Police failed to complete a background check within 90 days. Governor Ralph Northam, a Democrat, said the measure raised public safety concerns and would overburden the State Police.

Stop-and-frisks by the NYPD resulted in gun recovery just 1 percent of the time. That’s according to newly released data compiled by the New York Civil Liberties Union that examines the first four years of the de Blasio administration. The report found that between 2014 and 2017, use of the practice declined by 98 percent from the policy’s peak in 2011. Of those still stopped, four out of every five were black or Latino. A weapon was found on only 6 percent of the black and Latino people frisked, compared to 9 percent of whites frisked. Just 1 percent of those weapons were guns.

The governor of New Jersey wants to raise gun taxes and fees. In his latest budget, Governor Phil Murphy proposes raising the handgun permit fee from $2 to $50 and adding new taxes on buying and using firearms in the state. Murphy said the proposal would strengthen the state’s gun restrictions while bringing in an estimated $9 million in revenue. Opponents argue that it would disproportionately target blue-collar residents, who are more likely to take up hunting or target shooting as a hobby.

A girl in Florida brought a gun to school and shot herself. Classes were canceled Wednesday at Lake Mary High School, north of Orlando, after a 17-year-old took her own life in the auditorium, prompting a campus-wide lockdown. Police are investigating how the 11th grader obtained the weapon. Young people are at an elevated risk of gun suicide. Nearly half of youth suicides in 2014 involved firearms, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The only more common cause of death for young people is accidental injuries, a category that includes traffic accidents and drownings.

An excerpt from An American Summer. Today we’re pleased to share a chapter of Alex Kotlowitz’s new book on Chicagoans living through the city’s gun violence. In the excerpt, Kotlowitz follows a man named George Spivey as he navigates his return from a 10-year federal sentence for illegal gun possession. As he readjusts to freedom, Spivey reacquaints with his son, who is killed in a mistaken identity shooting five months after Spivey’s release. “I realized I was writing about all these people who were still standing… in this world that is slumping around them,” Koltowitz told The Trace earlier this month. “And many of them are not only moving on, but they are also moving on with force.”