Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Also in D.C. Yesterday: A Hearing on Assault Weapons and a Rally to End Gun Violence

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A tragic summer of gun violence in St. Louis has city and state officials turning to a program with the potential for dramatic reductions in shootings when properly implemented and adequately funded. Local activists are cheering the news. But after years of waiting, some worry the money may not come through.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: St. Louis pledges millions for gun violence interrupters. A brutal summer that saw 13 children fatally shot was the impetus for the new city funding. “This summer lit a fire for politicians in St. Louis,” said Marcus McAllister, a trainer for Cure Violence who has served as the organization’s point-person for its forthcoming St. Louis operation. “But I wish we could have been working down here 10 years ago.” St. Louis has taken an aggressive approach to prosecuting illegal gun possession, yet also regularly records one of the country’s highest homicide rates. Gun violence prevention researchers and advocates expressed relief that the city is directing more resources into prevention-based approaches, but some worry that other key programs will still face funding shortfalls. Champe Barton has the story.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing about assault weapons. Democratic lawmakers heard from a panel of municipal and law enforcement officials and advocates on both sides of the gun debate. Among the most vivid moments: 

  • El Paso trauma surgeon Alejandro Rios-Tovar spoke to the aftermath of last month’s Walmart massacre, describing wounds left by an assault-style rifle “the size of my fist” in one patient’s lung. “And there was nothing I could do from that point,” he added, before breaking down.
  • Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, whose city was marred by an August mass shooting, praised police officers for stopping the gunman in 32 seconds, possibly saving hundreds of lives, but noted that even “six good guys with guns” weren’t able to prevent the killing of nine people and the wounding of 27 others with an AR-15.
  • Former Tulsa, Oklahoma, police officer Dianna Muller argued that the difference between an AR-15 and a semiautomatic hunting rifle was only cosmetic, and said if a ban on the former were implemented, “I will not comply.” 

Anti-violence groups from across the country rallied at the Capitol. Hundreds of Chicagoans bused into Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning for the National Rally to End Gun Violence, which included a march through the city. They were joined by activists from New York and other cities, as well as politicians including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who promised that if his party retakes the Senate next year, he will hold a vote on universal background checks.

Ohio’s GOP governor defended his gun reform plan against intraparty criticism. Mike DeWine unveiled a slate of reforms after August’s Dayton shooting. He said Wednesday he wouldn’t withdraw plans to institute a red flag law or expand background checks after the state’s Republican House Speaker claimed the measures posed a risk for gun rights.

Police still don’t know the motive for the Virginia Beach shooting. Four months after a city employee killed 12 people and wounded four others, Deputy Chief Patrick L. Gallagher told the city council Tuesday they can’t find evidence that the perpetrator had work conflicts, financial problems, or mental health issues.

A New Mexico gun rights group is suing to overturn an Albuquerque gun law. The Patriots Advocacy Coalition says the city’s month-old ban on guns in community centers violates the state’s preemption statute. The same group filed suit in July to overturn the state’s universal background check law and gun ban for domestic abusers.

South Carolina’s capital city received a major grant to address gun violence. The Department of Justice gave the Columbia Police Department $670,000 in part to create a six-member Crime Gun Intelligence Unit that will use smart policing and ballistics technology to try to cut down on shootings. A federal prosecutor called the funding “a game-changer.”

A Florida appeals court upheld the state’s red flag law. The challenge, which marks the first time the 2018 law has been contested in court, was brought by a sheriff’s deputy who was disarmed for allegedly threatening to kill his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend. The Tallahassee-based appeals court disagreed that the law was overly broad and violated due process.

DATA POINT

1 in 5 police officers who died in the line of duty in 2016 and 2017 were killed with an assault-style rifle, according to an analysis of FBI data from the left-leaning Violence Policy Center.