Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Congressional Democrats Are Split on an Assault Weapons Ban

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Democrats running for president are increasingly unabashed in their embrace of banning assault-style rifles like the AR-15. But on the Hill, their party members don’t see a clear path forward in the current Congress. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Congressional Democrats are split on an assault weapons ban. A House panel with oversight over gun laws plans to cut short its August recess to vote on legislation meant to keep gun reform in the spotlight. There’s consensus that universal background checks and a red flag law should be part of the response to this summer’s outbreak of mass shootings. But The Washington Post reports that members of the party are divided on whether to include a revived ban on assault-style weapons. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi worries that an assault weapons ban won’t garner enough votes to clear the chamber, and would be doomed to rejection in the Senate.

Chuck Schumer calls for border wall funding to go toward curbing gun violence. The Senate Minority Leader said he will formally propose that the $5 billion that President Trump is requesting to fund the wall along the Mexican border instead be applied toward fighting “the dual scourges of gun violence and violent white supremacist extremism.” The request is meant to maintain pressure on Republicans to support gun safety legislation.

NEW from THE TRACE: How one hospital dramatically skewed the CDC’s estimate of nonfatal gun injuries. For years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s gun injury estimate has grown increasingly unreliable. According to an analysis by The Trace and FiveThirtyEight, its inaccuracy stems from the fact that data is culled from only a small number of hospitals. When one hospital is replaced by another in the database the CDC uses, the swap can cause the agency’s numbers for nonfatal shooting patients to swing drastically. In response to the new Trace/FiveThirtyEight piece, the CDC said it was taking measures to curtail the spread of its most unreliable estimates and is exploring the feasibility of collecting data from more hospitals. Read the story here.

An Ohio teen arrested for threatening a mass shooting had access to 15 rifles and 10,000 rounds of ammo. FBI agents searched the home the 18-year-old shared with his father after the teen posted on a website that he wanted to shoot federal agents as revenge for the 1993 Waco siege and commit mass murder at Planned Parenthood locations.

The clearest evidence yet that a mansion for Wayne LaPierre was to have been purchased with NRA money. The Wall Street Journal obtained a copy of a document signed last year by Wilson H. Phillips Jr., then the gun group’s treasurer and chief financial officer, agreeing to contribute the money to an LLC set up to buy a $6 million Dallas estate for LaPierre after the Parkland massacre. The purchase ultimately did not go through. The NRA had said previously that none of its money was going to be used to acquire the property and that none was ever used in the search itself. But a document obtained by ProPublica and published last week shows that NRA accountants flagged a $70,000 payment to the same LLC set up to facilitate the property acquisition.

States are taking measures to combat armed domestic extremism. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, is convening a summit today with law enforcement officials and lawmakers from both parties to discuss how to prevent hate-fueled mass shootings. Also today, Reverend Al Sharpton is hosting a roundtable in South Carolina with law enforcement officials from across the state that will tackle the same issues.

A California mayor wants gun owners insured like drivers. The legislation pitched by Democrat Sam Liccardo of San Jose would require gun owners to buy liability insurance. Policies would cover unintentional discharges and shootings committed with stolen guns. He also proposed taxes on guns and ammo that would fund anti-violence and victims’ assistance programs.

Los Angeles County is expanding a school shooting prevention program. The School Threat Assessment Response Team trains teachers and students to spot red flags that might presage a person turning to gun violence. On Monday, county officials announced a tripling of its funding.

Another NYPD officer has died by suicide. A 35-year-old officer in the Bronx was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Tuesday morning. He is the eighth New York City cop to die by suicide this year, already significantly above the yearly average.

A trans woman was fatally shot in South Carolina. Dime Doe, 24, was the second trans person shot to death in the state in three weeks, and the 12th trans person to die from gunshot wounds this year.

The Trace has been nominated for five Online News Association awards. We’re especially honored to be recognized for collaborations with The New YorkerMcClatchy, and the Miami Herald. The winners will be announced on September 14. In addition, our Scoop and Run collaboration with NBC10 Philadelphia has been nominated for an Emmy.

ONE LAST THING

One step the FBI can take to disrupt domestic terror. The bureau underestimates the threat from the far right, Oklahoma City bombing expert Andrew Gumbel writes at The Daily Beast. But the agency can still take down armed domestic extremist groups — by infiltrating them, as it did in the late ’90s after the FBI and ATF botched raids on extremist compounds in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. “From then on the FBI made sure to infiltrate every known extremist group,” Gumbel writes, “relying in part on the willingness of adherents to offer information either for money or to save their own skins, and in some cases on the radicals’ propensity to sabotage themselves.”