Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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A sign spotted near Molalla, Oregon, on September 13, 2020. [Alex Milan Tracy/Sipa USA)(Sipa via AP Images)]

Daily Bulletin: Fires Rage. Misinformation Swirls. Out Come the Guns.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Armed vigilantism makes its way into the forest fire crisis. As West Coast conflagrations spread, false rumors circulated in Oregon late last week that left-wing agitators were to blame for starting some of the blazes. The disinformation added to the danger on the ground in Corbett and Molalla as people with guns set up checkpoints and hunted for a pair of independent journalists mistaken for antifa activists. The New York Times reports that rumors of arsonists and looters had convinced some residents to defy evacuation orders in order to protect their homes as the fires advanced. “What is happening to the world and to Oregon?” summed up a local historian about a tumultuous season of fire and fury.

An ambush shooting critically injured two Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies. The officers were shot multiple times as they sat in their patrol car in Compton on Saturday night. The shooting was caught on surveillance video and police were still looking for a suspect. Community tensions —  already elevated after a recent fatal police shooting by LASD officers — boiled over outside the hospital where the officers were taken as a handful of protesters arrived and taunted the police; one officer raised his gun in response. At the scene, a reporter was “arrested while doing her job.” LASD officers charged KPCC/LAist journalist Josie Huang with obstructing a peace officer and detained her for hours after she filmed the hospital standoff. A department spokesperson claimed Huang didn’t have proper credentials, but Huang can be heard identifying herself as a reporter. “This is at least the second time that a journalist of color from this news organization was mistreated and injured while reporting on civil protests,” the Society of Professional Journalists said in a statement. In July, a riot officer struck KPCC/LAist journalist Adolfo Guzman-Lopez with a rubber bullet.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law shielded a counter-protester who pulled a gun. As we flagged last month, police in Tallahassee declined to charge the man who brandished his firearm during a Black Lives Matter protest. The state attorney said his hands were tied because of the state’s expansive self-defense law. An organizer of the anti-racism protests sees a double-standard, noting that demonstrators have been arrested for impeding traffic after a march on the state’s historic Capitol building spilled into the street.

Solutions watch: County where Daniel Prude was killed expands mental health co-responder program. Prude’s death while in police custody in Rochester, New York, underscored the dangers of having armed police officers respond to mental health calls. Now, Monroe County has announced $360,000 to make mental health professionals available 24/7. As The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle notes, the disturbance that led to Prude’s death had happened after hours. In our weekly newsletter, we looked at other cities experimenting with having mental health professionals and other service providers respond to more 911 calls. (If you don’t get our weekly briefing, or would prefer to change your subscription settings, you can always do so here.)

A witness to the police killing of a suspected shooter in Portland, Oregon, says his account was incorrectly reported. Michael Forest Reinoehl, wanted for the fatal shooting of a right-wing protester earlier this month, was shot and killed during a police raid. Chad Smith, who was at the scene, told The Olympian that Reinoehl was armed at the time of the encounter and fired upon officers. But Smith now tells Vice his narrative was misconstrued: He isn’t sure if Reinoehl pulled a gun at all. That disclosure follows the account of another witness who came forward last week to say he didn’t see Reinoehl armed when officers fatally shot him.

DATA POINT

23 states* have restrictions on civilians bringing firearms into state capitol buildings. Later today, a state commission in Michigan resumes debate on whether to ban guns in the Capitol there. [Giffords]

*Several other states have gun restrictions inside meetings of the state legislature, but not blanket capitol building bans.