Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Black Lives Matter protesters find a corner near Boise City Hall as they become surrounded by counter-protesters. [AP photo, Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman]

Daily Bulletin: More Armed Confrontations Over Protests and Mask Mandates

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Protest and pandemic disputes lead to more armed confrontations. In Boise, Idaho, police said they disarmed a woman who reportedly pointed a gun at protesters during a Black Lives Matter rally that drew counter-protesters. The city’s police chief called the incident “disheartening” and the department has referred the case to local prosecutors. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a man is facing felony charges after pulling a gun on a fellow Walmart shopper who told him to cover his face. The armed man was charged with aggravated assault and improper exhibition of a firearm.

As gun background checks surged in March, denied purchasers and delayed screenings ticked up. While the FBI was notching its then-highest month for background checks processed, the share of would-be buyers rejected increased to 1.6 percent, compared to 1.2 percent in February, according to a Freedom of Information Act request of FBI data obtained by Politico. In raw numbers: Nearly 14,000 more people barred from owning guns tried to buy one through the system, versus the prior month total. The share of background checks that took longer than three business days to complete rose to 5.2 percent, up nearly 2 percentage points. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives did not provide numbers on the question with the most direct implications for public safety: How many of those more than 76,000 screenings led to a prohibited person obtaining a firearm after the sale was allowed to proceed with the background check still pending, as federal law allows.

The NRA’s 2020 convention is officially canceled. Citing COVID-19, the gun group postponed the event set for Nashville, Tennessee, in March, relocating it to a smaller venue in Springfield, Missouri, in September. Earlier this week, the NRA suggested it would push back the event again. But on Thursday, the convention site said the NRA has officially cancelled its 2020 gathering because of travel and health concerns related to the pandemic.

An anti-violence leader on Trump’s federal law enforcement surge. As part of Operation Legend, the Department of Justice will send 100 agents from the FBI, ATF, and Drug Enforcement Agency to help Chicago “fight violent crime.” The Trace asked Eddie Bocanegra, the senior director of READI Chicago, for his perspective on how the push will affect gun violence prevention efforts there: “No matter who is charged with safeguarding our communities, it is imperative that we respect the constitutional rights and personal freedoms of our citizens. But let’s think about the total cost of federal agents or the total cost of police court settlements. What if we took that funding and reinvested it in jobs, health and mental health, housing, and community resources? This is where we really need support — otherwise, we will be back to square one next month. I strongly encourage the administration’s support to bring federal resources into our neighborhoods, but please bring them in the form of community investment and resource development.”

DOJ inspector general to investigate federal agents’ use of force on demonstrators in Portland. A spokesperson said the probe was initiated after a referral from the U.S. Attorney in Oregon, public complaints, and requests for investigations by members of Congress. Last week, the Oregon Attorney General’s Office opened a criminal probe in the case of a demonstrator who reportedly suffered a skull fracture after being struck by a “less-lethal” munition. The Justice Department inspector general’s investigation will also look into recent federal actions against protesters in Washington, D.C.

A federal judge temporarily blocked the release of NYPD misconduct records. Shortly after New York State repealed its controversial law shielding such files, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would release two tranches of tens of thousands of records — one from the New York Police Department and one from the Civilian Complaint Review Board. But a judge sided with the police union, telling the city to withhold releasing any “complaints that are unsubstantiated or unfounded, those in which the officer has been exonerated, those that are pending, non-final.” The injunction bars the New York Civil Liberties Union from disclosing contents of the files, which it obtained through FOIA requests. A followup hearing is set for August 18.

New York firearms instructor convicted for falsifying safety training courses. Dennis Brennan pleaded guilty to two felonies for submitting fraudulent security guard and peace officer training certificates on behalf of students at his Buffalo academy, New York Attorney General Letitia James announced. The state court where Brennan was charged revoked his federal firearms license and ordered him to surrender his guns.

DATA POINT

Permissive concealed carry laws were associated with an 11 percent increase in the rate of firearms homicides, according to a new study using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 1991 to 2016. [Justice Quarterly]