Good morning, Bulletin readers. It was a busy day for gun news in Washington yesterday, with two committee hearings in the Capitol, a last-ditch appeal at the Supreme Court, and a bipartisan gun bill in the Senate. We’ve got the key details for you in today’s roundup.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: A major seller of bump stocks turned over its inventory. RW Arms, which stepped in as a leading distributor of the devices after another company shut down last year, said Monday night that it has voluntarily surrendered over 60,000 unsold bump stocks to federal agents for destruction. The Justice Department’s ban on the devices kicked in yesterday, making anyone found in possession of bump stocks subject to a $250,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison. The Supreme Court rejected an 11th-hour bid to stop the bump stock ban. Chief Justice John Roberts upheld the Trump administration’s reclassification of the rapid-fire devices as “machine guns.”
At a rare Senate hearing on gun violence, Republicans voiced qualified support for red flag laws. The Judiciary Committee heard testimony yesterday on measures that allow police to remove guns from people in crisis. The policies have been popular at the state level since Parkland. In his opening remarks, Chairman Lindsey Graham said that he thought a federal law was likely “beyond what the market will bear,” but by the end of the hearing, he indicated tacit support for a national bill: “The benefits are enormous,” he said, “even if you just stop one” death. Trace contributor Nora Biette-Timmons has the recap.
On the other side of the Capitol, there was a hearing on gun exports. The House Foreign Affairs Committee addressed the Trump administration’s plan to loosen gun export oversight, a move that could increase the flow of guns to Central America. In remarks opposing the change, Representative Ami Bera of California referenced reporting by The Trace’s Alex Yablon showing a surge of American-made firearms to the region, which has been destabilized by high rates of violence. Alex was following along during the hearing. Go deeper: Read his explainer on the proposed rule change, and the potential consequences for the refugee crisis.
A bipartisan bill in the Senate targets prohibited purchasers who “lie and try” to buy guns anyway. Delaware’s Chris Coons, a Democrat, teamed up with Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, to introduce legislation that would notify state law enforcement when someone banned from gun ownership tries to buy a weapon and fails a background check. Context: Submitting false information on a background check is already a felony under federal law, but few who do so are ever apprehended, much less prosecuted.
New Jersey’s attorney general is suing a California gun shop. The lawsuit filed Friday alleges that the California distributor violated New Jersey’s consumer fraud laws by advertising and selling home-built firearms and kits to customers in New Jersey, where such products are illegal. The gun shop was one of 16 companies that received cease-and-desist letters from the New Jersey attorney general in December and is the first to be sued over the state’s “ghost gun” ban.
ONE LAST THING
New arrests in a cold case thanks to gun tracing technology. Oklahoma investigators say they matched shell casings from a gun used in 2013 to kill a 77-year-old at an Oklahoma gas station to a handgun that had been stolen from a police chief more than 900 miles away in Port Allen, Louisiana. Using the new evidence, police say they were able to arrest four suspects in connection with the Oklahoma shooting, nearly six years after the crime took place. Last summer, Ann Givens wrote about how a nationwide database that matches shell casings can help investigators catch more shooters, and made this video showing the technology in action.