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News and notes on guns in America

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Law enforcement officers gather outside the Henry Pratt Co. manufacturing plant Feb. 15, 2019, in Aurora, Ill., where a gunman killed 5 people. [AP Photo/Matt Marton]

Daily Bulletin: Boom Times For Active-Shooter Insurance

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In the wake of last week’s warnings from the FBI and Homeland Security about the threat of retaliatory terror strikes by Iran, an announcement from another federal agency underscores the risks posed when terrorist motives combine with the U.S.’s ample supply of firearms.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Barr declares Pensacola naval base shooting an act of terrorism: At a press conference, Attorney General William Barr said the Saudi national who committed the December 6 shooting, which left three people dead and eight others injured, was “motivated by jihadist ideology.” Barr cited anti-American and anti-Israeli social media posts, including one just hours before the attack. Barr also asked Apple to unlock two phones the perpetrator used, saying the company had offered no “substantive assistance” in the probe. In a statement to The New York Times, Apple said it had helped the FBI from Day One. Once again, mass shootings collide with privacy concerns: Per the Times: “In late 2015, Apple defied a court order to assist the F.B.I. in its efforts to search [the] device [of one of the San Bernardino shooters], setting off a fight over whether privacy enabled by impossible-to-crack encryption harmed public safety. The San Bernardino dispute was resolved when the F.B.I. found a private company to bypass the iPhone’s encryption. Tensions between the two sides, however, remained, and Apple worked to ensure that neither the government nor private contractors could open its phones.”

Democratic state lawmakers in Virginia begin to advance gun reform package. Legislation creating universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, a one-handgun-per-month limit, and a measure to let cities ban firearms at public events all cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. A notable exception: The committee’s Democratic majority unanimously pulled a Senate bill that would have banned assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, without grandfathering in existing weapons. Democrats are still expected to champion a House version of the ban — supported by Governor Ralph Northam — that would outlaw the sale of new assault-style rifles, but allow owners to keep the ones they already have.

As lawmakers debated, NRA members and gun rights activists demonstrated at the Capitol. The National Rifle Associations’s lobbyists handed out 30-round magazines provided by Magpul as a signal of their opposition to new gun restrictions. The ammo devices were all empty, The Washington Post reported. On Friday, Democrats on the House-Senate Rules Committee banned guns on the Capitol’s premises.

Milwaukee’s mayor credited a public health approach with a five-year decline in violence. Between 2015 and 2019, homicides dropped 34 percent and shootings were down 28 percent. Mayor Tom Barrett said that collaboration between the city’s Office of Violence Prevention and community groups helped account for the decline.

Florida lawmakers advanced a bill requiring background checks on gun sales at gun shows. The Senate Infrastructure and Security Committee on Monday approved the Republican-sponsored bill, which does not extend to private sales between individuals. The Legislature is also considering bills that would require background checks to buy ammunition, require concealed carry permit applicants to undergo a mental health exam, and implement a ban on assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines.

Dallas public schools banned backpacks and other bags after a shooting at a basketball game. Texas’s second-largest school district said the new policy applies to high school sporting events, and attendees will be required to pass through metal detectors. Two people, including a police officer, were wounded Saturday night when someone opened fire during a fight at a basketball game. Last week, The New York Times reported that shootings at after-school sporting events have caused 19 deaths and more than 100 injuries over a seven year span.

The security guard who fatally shot a gunman at a Texas church was given the state’s highest civilian honor. Governor Greg Abbott awarded the honor to firearms instructor Jack Wilson, 71, for killing the White Settlement church shooter who had gunned down two other volunteer guards.

DATA POINT

The active-shooter threat has led to an uptick in specialized insurance: London-based Beazley, which underwrites “deadly weapons” insurance policies for workplaces, reported a 270 percent rise in business last year. CNBC