Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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2014 Iowa State Fair [Phil Roeder/Wikimedia Commons]

Daily Bulletin: Democratic Candidates Go on Offense on Gun Control in Iowa

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Gun violence has emerged as a top concern of voters heading into the 2020 election, and Democratic candidates are jostling to show just how aggressive they would be on the issue. Highlights from a forum in Iowa over the weekend lead your Monday roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

2020 Democratic candidates pitched their gun policy platforms in Iowa. At a forum hosted by the gun reform group Everytown for Gun Safety, 17 of the contenders for their party’s presidential nomination reiterated their support for universal background checks and an assault-weapons ban, and called out the National Rifle Association as a major obstacle to reform. NBC News has a good analysis of Democrats’ united front on the issue. Some noteworthy moments:
• Kamala Harris said President Trump “didn’t pull the trigger” in El Paso, “but he’s certainly been tweeting out the ammunition.”
• Andrew Yang broke down in tears after a woman described the death of her 4-year-old daughter from a stray bullet.
• Kirsten Gillibrand suggested tweeting at Senate Majority Leader to “call the vote!” on a universal background check bill.
• Pete Buttigieg warned against history repeating for yet another generation: “Shame on us, God help us, if 20 years from now there’s a candidate forum with presidential candidates in the aftermath of mass shootings and a day-to-day beat of daily shootings, saying, ‘OK, what are we going to do to make sure it’s different this time?’”
• Joe Biden said of the Second Amendment, “No amendment is, in fact, absolute.”
• Ahead of the forum, Elizabeth Warren outlined her plan to reduce annual gun deaths by 80 percent. It involves a series of executive actions including requiring all gun sellers to get federal licenses, requiring background checks on private sales, and raising the minimum age for gun purchases.
(Through its nonpolitical arm, Everytown provides grants to The Trace. You can find our donor transparency policy here, and our editorial independence policy here.)

More than half of Republican voters support an assault weapons ban. A POLITICO/Morning Consult poll conducted in the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings found that 55 percent of GOP voters favor a ban, and 90 percent said they would support background checks for all gun sales.

Senator Chuck Schumer wants the FBI to sign off on sales of body armor. The senior Senator from New York said that when Congress returns from summer recess he’ll file a bill requiring the FBI to regulate sales of body armor, saying “a good number of those intent on mass shootings buy” it.

The nation’s largest teachers union threatened to boycott Walmart. The American Federation of Teachers said that if the retailer continues selling guns and making financial contributions to politicians who oppose tighter gun laws, it will instruct its 1.7 million members to stop buying school supplies there.

New Hampshire’s Republican governor vetoed three gun control bills. The measures, passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, would have required a background check for every gun sale, imposed a three-day waiting period on purchases, and banned guns from school grounds.

New York financial regulators are probing whether the NRA took kickbacks for selling insurance. As an outgrowth of its investigation into and sanction of Carry Guard, the NRA’s self-defense-shooting insurance, the New York Department of Financial Services is looking into $14 million in payments the gun group collected for selling similar insurance products between 2000 and 2008.

Trump to NRA: You need better lawyers. Two sources told the Daily Beast that the president made the remark to the NRA’s chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, and (now former) top lobbyist Chris Cox backstage at the gun group’s convention in April, just after The Trace revealed questionable transactions and business arrangements involving top NRA executives, favored vendors, and consultants. According to Trump sources, the President closely follows reports of the gun group’s internal drama.

A man who walked into a Missouri Walmart with a rifle says he was just testing his gun rights. The 20-year-old was charged with making terroristic threats after walking into a Walmart in Springfield on Thursday wearing body armor and carrying a loaded rifle and handgun. He filmed his stroll through the store on his cell phone, prompting an employee to pull a fire alarm and sending shoppers fleeing for the exits.

The FBI arrested a Las Vegas man for allegedly planning an attack on a synagogue and an LGBTQ bar. The 23-year-old suspect told the FBI he had been planning to create an eight-man sniper platoon to shoot Jews, court documents said. The suspect, who used to patrol his Las Vegas neighborhood with an assault rifle, faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for possession of an unregistered firearm.

ONE LAST THING

Weak American gun laws have cost lives on both sides of the border. In a feature about how a retired cop in Texas got caught up in a cross-border smuggling scheme, Rolling Stone links trafficked American guns — and the lapse of the 1994 assault weapons ban — to rising gun fatalities in Mexico: In 2004, the last year of the ban on assault-style rifles, Mexico had the lowest number of murders in its recorded history. Last year, the country recorded the most homicides in its history. The flood of military-grade guns armed paramilitary cartels like Los Zetas, which came to dominate crime in northeastern Mexico. Violence is a huge driver of the migration that has become a fixation of President Trump. And it’s often American-made guns firing the shots, as Alex Yablon has reported.