Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Finlay Mackay]

Daily Bulletin: Gun Violence Is Costing Taxpayers Even More Than We Knew

Good morning, Bulletin readers. As a report documents how guns made political extremism deadly last year, an alleged plot against a Muslim enclave provides a reminder of the ongoing threat. Those headlines and more, below.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

American right-wing extremism was particularly deadly in 2018. That’s according to a new report from the Anti-Defamation League, which found that at least 50 people in the United States were killed in domestic extremist-related murders last year, up from 37 in 2017. According to the ADL, such high death tolls from extremism are almost always the result of gun rampages like those in Orlando and Pittsburgh. 

Four young men were arrested for a plot to attack a Muslim enclave in New York State. The men, age 16 to 20, were arrested following a tip from a student who overheard the 16-year-old making a comment about a school shooting in the high school cafeteria. Police found that he and his co-conspirators had stockpiled 23 guns and three homemade bombs as part of a plan to attack the Muslim community of Islamberg, located about three hours from where the suspects live in upstate New York. 

A gunman killed five people at a Florida bank. Police responded to calls of an armed robber who had barricaded himself inside a SunTrust bank in the central city of Sebring. The suspect, identified as a local 21-year-old man, eventually surrendered to law enforcement.

Philadelphia will enforce a decade-old initiative requiring people to report stolen guns. District Attorney Larry Krasner announced yesterday that he would begin enforcing the city’s Failure to Report Lost or Stolen Firearm code, which imposes fines and possible jail time on gun owners who fail to notify police when their weapons go missing. The law has not been enforced since it was challenged in court by the NRA 10 years ago. From The Trace archives: Law enforcement officials say theft reports aid criminal investigations and their understanding of gun-trafficking networks. But few states require gun owners to report their weapons stolen.

A bill in Congress would prohibit people under 21 from buying assault-style rifles. The bipartisan proposal introduced yesterday would raise the minimum age to buy assault-style weapons from 18 to 21 years old. Handgun purchases are already restricted for people under 21, with some exceptions. A similar measure introduced after Parkland failed in the then-Republican-led House. Two other federal gun measures were introduced this week: Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat, filed a bill that would vet online ammunition buyers and require dealers to notify authorities of sales exceeding 1,000 rounds to a single gun owner in a five-day period. Another bill that Watson Coleman is co-sponsoring would create a federal licensing and registration process for handgun owners.

A bill in Oklahoma would allow guns in public parks and zoos. If passed, the measure would prohibit “gun-free zones” in parks and other areas open to the public. Under current law, people who carry concealed weapons in the state can be asked to leave certain public spaces. Meanwhile: A bill in the Wyoming Senate that would have eliminated gun-free zones in public buildings was voted down on Wednesday. A companion bill is still alive in the state House.

ONE LAST THING

Short-term hospital readmissions for gun injuries cost Americans $86 million a year, a six-year Stanford study found. Researchers determined that nearly 10 percent of all inpatient hospital costs for firearm injury came from people returning for follow-up visits, costing taxpayers, private insurers, and uninsured families $517 million over the study period. As with most gunshot victim health treatment, Medicaid and Medicare paid for the bulk of costs.

The Trace has reported previously on the astronomical inpatient costs associated with gun violence in American hospitals, which totals as much as $3 billion per year. A September study found that gunshot patients required 10 times more blood than survivors of other traumas, at an average cost of nearly twice that of other trauma patients. And these costs hit Southern states the hardest: The price of treating gunshot survivors is greatest in states with the highest rates of firearm ownership and the most permissive gun laws, previous research has shown.