Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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U.S. Department of Justice [Coolcaesar/Wikimedia Commons]

Daily Bulletin: DOJ Weighs Hate Crime Charges in Ahmaud Arbery Killing

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: He’s a doctor who never felt drawn to politics. Treating shooting victims and coronavirus patients changed that. Brian Williams is the co-director of the Chicago Medical Center’s surgical ICU. “Over and over and over again, I am operating on young black men who are victims of gun violence,” he tells The Trace’s Ann Givens. “And now I’m in an ICU looking at just a line of black Americans who are fighting for their lives from coronavirus.” Ann’s profile shows how the inequity underpinning both crises led to Williams’s political activism. Read it here.

DOJ weighs hate crime charges in Ahmaud Arbery killing. “We are assessing all of the evidence to determine whether federal hate crimes charges are appropriate,” a spokesperson said of the February slaying of Arbery, who was shot by two white men while jogging in Brunswick, Georgia. Last week, following the release of a video documenting the shooting, state investigators arrested the perpetrators and charged them with murder and aggravated assault. Georgia doesn’t have its own hate crimes statute. Meanwhile, the state’s attorney general named a new district attorney to take over the investigation, the fourth prosecutor to the lead the case.

Michigan isn’t banning guns in the state’s Capitol — at least for now. The Michigan State Capitol Commission, a six-member panel of state lawmakers and gubernatorial appointees, voted unanimously on Monday to form a new committee to study whether to enact gun restrictions in the building. The commission, which acts as the caretaker for the Capitol and its grounds, was thrust into the middle of a heated debate last month after an anti-quarantine protest saw armed demonstrators enter the Senate gallery and angrily confront lawmakers. Commission members are divided on whether they have the power to restrict guns in the Capitol, though hours before Monday’s vote the state’s Democratic attorney general issued a legal opinion that they did. The virtual meeting adjourned early because of online threats and racist slurs directed at members of the commission, The Detroit Press reported.

Virginia gun ranges set date for partial reopening. Starting on May 15, indoor shooting ranges can open at 50 percent occupancy, according to an executive order from Governor Ralph Northam. Employees must clean the premises and any equipment used by customers, and are required to wear face coverings. Customers will be “strongly encouraged” to wear masks. The move comes after a state judge ruled that a range in the city of Lynchburg could reopen.

Gun rights advocates in two states sue over disruptions to the gun permitting process. The Connecticut Citizens Defense League is targeting Connecticut’s stay-at-home order, which suspended the collection of fingerprints prospective gun owners must submit to complete an application. The gun rights group says the policy “effectively shut down the issuance of all firearm permits in Connecticut.” Meanwhile, a gun rights advocate in Florida is suing the state for pausing online applications for concealed weapons permits.

Top lobbyist says “the NRA is not looking for new leadership.” Marion Hammer, the National Rifle Association’s former president and influential lobbyistreplied to a recent Ammoland column surmising that CEO Wayne LaPierre’s successful power consolidation may have made it harder to find a successor. In her rebuttal to Jeff Knox, the son of a former NRA official, Hammer threw her full weight behind LaPierre, “It takes someone who can raise more than $1 million a day to keep our Association running,” she wrote. She concluded, “We need … someone who President Trump himself calls and trusts.”

DATA POINT

At least 23 people have been killed in domestic homicides in Milwaukee so far this year. More than half of them were shootings. During the same period last year, there were four domestic homicides, according to the city’s Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. Fox 6 News