Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Trump holds up a replica flintlock rifle awarded to him at the Citadel Military College in February, 2015.

Daily Bulletin: Donald Trump’s Gun Debate of One

Good morning, Bulletin readers. The documents don’t lie: NRA accountants appear to have contradicted the gun group’s outside counsel. That story and more in your end-of-week roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Republicans feel the pressure to do something on gun violence. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a Kentucky radio show that he feels the “urgency” and will allow a debate on gun safety bills when the Senate returns from recess in September. President Trump is reportedly already imagining the Rose Garden signing ceremony. BUT: “Trump has offered different ideas for what action on gun safety might look like” (per The New York Times) and “has waffled… between wanting to do more and growing concerned that doing so could prompt a revolt from his political base” (per The Washington Post). Trump flip-flopped on legislative responses to the Parkland shooting, and lawmakers are skeptical he’ll provide the clarity and consistency his party members will be looking for. Said Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut: “I’ve been to this rodeo before.”

Trump appears to be gauging whether he can get away with defying the NRA. More from The Post: “A White House official said Trump had asked some advisers and lawmakers this week about whether the National Rifle Association still had enduring clout amid an internal leadership battle and allegations of improper spending” uncovered by The Trace and other journalists. The president and NRA leader Wayne LaPierre reportedly spoke several times by phone on Wednesday, with LaPierre warning that enacting universal background checks would not play well with Trump’s base.

NEW from THE TRACE: Document shows NRA money helped LaPierre search for a personal mansion. In news reports this week, the NRA’s outside counsel, William A. Brewer III, insisted that “not a cent” of the nonprofit’s money was used to fund LaPierre’s house hunting in 2018. But a document obtained by ProPublica shows that NRA accountants flagged a $70,000 payment to a sketchy entity set up to facilitate the property acquisition, which the NRA did not ultimately complete. The NRA did not respond to questions about whether the money was ever returned. Related: NRA board members brushed off the latest spending scandal. “They were just trying to find a safe house to put him in,” board member LeRoy Sisco told The Post.

In Ohio, a red flag bill will have to surmount an increasingly pro-gun legislature. GOP Governor Mike DeWine has supported enacting a bill that would allow for temporarily disarming gun owners who present clear threats. The Dayton shooter, who reportedly lashed out at girlfriends, may have been an ideal candidate for such a law. But to make it to DeWine’s desk, any bill would have to navigate the Republican-led General Assembly that is largely hostile to new gun restrictions. The Trace’s Alex Yablon has that story.

Ten Democratic presidential candidates will attend a gun safety forum in Iowa. The town hall will take place in Des Moines on Saturday. All of the party’s top-polling White House aspirants — including Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris — have RSVP’d.

Republican doctors in Congress won’t say whether they think gun violence is a public health crisis. Politico asked all 13 of them — 10 representatives and three senators — whether they agree with the American Medical Association’s assessment that gun violence should be addressed in the public health realm. They either didn’t respond or forwarded their previous statements linking shootings with mental illness. As we reported on Thursday, mental health experts say that blaming mass shootings only on mental illness is a way to deflect attention from gun laws.

The El Paso gunman’s mother told police she was concerned about her son’s assault-style rifle. Weeks before the massacre, the suspect’s mother anonymously called her local police department and said she was worried that her 21-year-old lacked the maturity and expertise to own such a powerful weapon, CNN reported.

Walmart employees walked out to protest gun violence. Employees at the retail giant’s e-commerce offices in California, Oregon, and Brooklyn staged a demonstration Wednesday to demand that the company stop selling guns or donating to NRA-endorsed politicians following the El Paso shooting, which took place at one of its stores. A spokesperson for the company said this week that there are no current plans to change its policies.

Publicly traded companies are now including “active shooter risk” in their SEC filings. Companies are required to inform shareholders of factors that could negatively impact their stock price, like labor costs or currency fluctuations. Del Taco, Cheesecake Factory, and Dave & Buster’s are among the companies that have recently added language about the potential for active shootings to affect their bottom lines.

Brooklyn shooting spike exposes rift between police, prosecutors. As north Brooklyn grapples with a 10 percent year-over-year rise in shooting, NYPD brass blamed District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, who’s been diverting some gun offenders into community programs in the name of criminal justice reform. Gonzalez defended the practice to The Times: “The community does not want a system that sends every young black kid or Hispanic kid who gets caught with a gun upstate.”

ONE LAST THING

Shooting survivors at gun violence town hall: “We’re exhausted.” CNN held a town hall on Wednesday night attended by survivors of past mass shootings and family members of victims, many of whom expressed their frustration and disbelief at federal inaction on gun reform. Participants from Columbine, Orlando, Sandy Hook, and Parkland debated guns in schools, the rise of concealed carry, red flag laws, universal background checks, and the political influence of the NRA, which declined to send a representative and instead released a statement deriding “televised, choreographed spectacles.”