Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: Election Results Have Democratic State Lawmakers and Reform Groups Pressing Their Edge on Gun Policy

Good morning, Bulletin readers. With many suburban voters indicating their desire for more action on gun violence, gun reform groups and Democrats in several red and purple states are going on offense.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

The governor of Virginia previewed state Democrats’ gun reform agenda. Ralph Northam said he will introduce a package of bills as soon as the new Democrat-led General Assembly convenes in January. Among his first priorities, according to an interview with CNN and a subsequent cabinet meeting: passing bills for universal background checks; banning assault weapon sales and high-capacity magazines; instituting a red flag law; and banning bump stocks.

Gun safety advocates see opportunities in Texas. The gun reform group Giffords Law Center has “targets up and down the ballot in Texas in 2020,” its executive director told the Houston Chronicle. Like Virginia, Texas has fast-growing suburbs where voters are gradually shifting to the left, and opinion polls in the Lone Star State consistently show more appetite for gun reform among residents than the GOP-dominated legislature. “It’s a huge shift in this politics, and it’s really driven by suburban voters,” Don Mark, a Democratic strategist in Virginia, told the Chronicle.

Wisconsin will hold a special session on gun violence today. Democratic Governor Tony Evers called the session late last month in the face of opposition to gun safety policies by the GOP lawmakers who control the Legislature. But Republicans plan to end the session without debate, much as their counterparts in Virginia did after a mass shooting there in May. Evers has said he would keep calling more sessions to keep up the political pressure.

Philadelphia plans to pump more money into fighting community gun violence. Mayor Jim Kenney said the $5 million injection, which needs final approval from the City Council, will go partly toward a relaunching a focused deterrence program sidelined in 2013. In January, the city unveiled a five-year “Road Map to Safer Communities” supported by a $31.5 million investment in efforts such as beautification of crime hotspots, grants to neighborhood groups pursuing promising anti-violence strategies, and services to reduce recidivism among people returning from incarceration. Kenney was re-elected this Tuesday and has declared preventing gun violence as the top priority for his next term.

  • Attention Philly area readers! Join us tomorrow for the first-ever community gun violence reporting summit. We’re hosting a talk on some hard lessons we and our fellow panelists have learned while reporting on shootings in underserved communities. WHYY is hosting the event at its studios. Non-journalists are encouraged to attend.

Bay Area residents decried the lack of attention for the Orinda shooting. Five people of color were fatally shot at an Airbnb on Halloween. But in the aftermath, much of the media coverage has been on Airbnb’s crackdown on “party houses” — which will reportedly include a “rapid response team” to field neighbor complaints — than the victims, who were from less-affluent communities. “[If] it’s an inner-city area, that kind of stuff gets looked over because people think it’s common,” Richmond resident Darrion Jones told The Guardian.

An Arizona county declared itself a “Second Amendment sanctuary.” Mohave County is the first in the state to adopt a non-legally binding resolution opposing new gun laws. Texas counties have also recently joined the scattered movement, which has adherents among sheriffs and county officials in rural parts of Illinois, Oregon, and Washington State — as well as the support of the National Rifle Association, as this USA Today investigation found.

A man turned away from a California fast food restaurant opened fire on three employees. The gunman, who is still at large, was ejected from a Church’s Chicken in San Diego on Wednesday afternoon. He returned and shot three employees, killing one of them.

Another police department revised its use-of-force policy. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said its officers should attempt de-escalation tactics, including “time, distance, and cover,” before resorting to using their weapons.

Police released the suspect in the Texas homecoming party mass shooting. Authorities in Greenville said Wednesday that the 23-year-old man they arrested the day after the shooting would be released after several alibi witnesses came forward. Two people were killed and six others were wounded in the October 27 incident.

DATA POINT

Transportation Security Administration agents seized 403 guns from carry-on bags at airport security checkpoints last month, 12.5 percent more than October of last year. Transportation Security Administration