Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

Daily Bulletin: A Gun Doesn’t Have to Fire to Cause Serious Trauma

Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.

WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

“Vote Trump or else!” emails targeted registered Democratic voters in several states. The intimidation campaign’s messages were sent to a handful of voters in Alaska, Arizona, Florida, and Pennsylvania. The emails read in part: “You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. … We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.” The message came from a domain used by the far-right Proud Boys, who have been fixtures at armed protests this year. But leaders of the group immediately denied involvement, and the directors of National Intelligence and the FBI said during a briefing Wednesday night that they believe the government of Iran was behind the emails. Federal and state officials are still investigating. Separately: The Miami Police Department said it quickly reprimanded an on-duty officer for wearing a pro-Trump mask at a Florida polling place, which critics said skirted a state law requiring uniformed officers or campaigners to be at least 150 feet away from voting booths if they are endorsing a candidate.

Investigation of federal charges against protesters reveals little left-wing involvement. The Trump administration has launched an aggressive crackdown on demonstrators arrested since May, bringing an unusually large number of cases to federal court. Despite the administration’s assertions that organized left-wing groups were committing violence, an Associated Press examination of nearly 300 people indicted on federal charges found that none had any official ties to antifa. Those charged included many who expressed left-wing or anti-government views, as well as a number of far-right individuals, but very few had connections to extremists groups. After arson, the most common charge was illegal possession of a firearm (about 15 percent of cases), followed by a number of relatively minor, nonviolent offenses.

A gun doesn’t need to go off to cause victims serious trauma. Last year, more than 37,000 people are estimated to have died from gun violence. Many more were physically injured. An analysis from the left-leaning Center for American Progress (CAP) looks at another set of victims: those threatened with guns during aggravated assaults and robberies. CAP’s estimate by the numbers: “In addition to the 103 victims killed and the 210 victims injured with a gun every day, at least another 1,100 victims are threatened with a gun during a violent crime.” Those incidents also increased emotional trauma, and were more likely to negatively affect Black communities.

Democrats propose bill to repeal constraints on gun tracing. The Tiahrt Amendment prevents the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from releasing detailed gun trace data to anyone but law enforcement, prohibits the ATF from requiring gun dealers to inspect their inventories, and requires the FBI to destroy background check data within 24 hours. The new bill unveiled by Virginia Representative Don Beyer and Maryland Senator Chris Van Hollen would repeal Tiahrt, as well as a law that prevents the ATF from maintaining a centralized, digital firearms database. Currently, agents must search paper records and microfiche to run a trace.

DATA POINT

No change — was found in the observed suicide rate in Massachusetts during its state lockdown, according to a new study. Experts have feared that pandemic-related closures could exacerbate so-called deaths of despair. But as the study’s lead author told The New York Times. “This narrative that longer stay-at-home policies drive suicides doesn’t bear out.” [Dr. Jeremy Faust et al, pre-print study]