Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Andrew Spear for The Trace]

Daily Bulletin: Florida Takes Another Step Toward Allowing Teachers to be Armed

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A Massachusetts ban on guns designed to skirt assault weapons regulations was upheld in an appeals court. A disparity in gun violence fears in New Jersey largely turns on demographics. And the victims of Tuesday’s UNC Charlotte shooting are identified. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Remembering the victims of the University of North Carolina Charlotte shooting. Local news outlets report Riley Howell, 21, was killed while jumping the gunman to save his classmates. A runner and soccer player, he was described as “upbeat and optimistic” by one of his former coaches. “You can’t really put into words what a good human being he was,” another said. Ellis Parlier, 19, was also killed in the shooting. Parlier was an honors student at UNCC studying information technology.

The GOP-led Florida House passed a bill that would let more K-12 teachers carry guns. The measure approved yesterday expands the state’s school “guardian” program, launched after the Parkland shooting. It now heads to the desk of the Republican governor, who is expected to sign it. School employees in 40 Florida counties have already signed up for the required training to be able to carry guns.

Meanwhile…A school resource officer unintentionally discharged his gun in a Florida middle school cafeteria on Tuesday. No students were injured in the incident, but it has sparked concern among parents in the town of Wesley Chapel, north of Tampa. “That’s a deputy. And now they are trying to arm teachers with guns?” one of them said. The same afternoon, a gun went off at a Virginia high school as a 16-year-old reportedly showed the weapon to his classmates. The shooting prompted an hours-long lockdown.

A court upheld Massachusetts’s expansive assault weapons ban. In a defeat for gun rights activists, a U.S. Appeals Court on Monday sided with Attorney General Maura Healey of Massachusetts, who in 2016 interpreted her state’s existing ban to include firearms designed as “copies” of banned models. “Gun manufacturers have manufactured these weapons as legal versions of prohibited guns,” she explained in 2016.

Half of New Jersey residents fear being shot, but two-thirds don’t see gun violence as a problem. That’s according to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released last week in collaboration with the Center on Gun Violence Research at Rutgers University. Demographics partially explained the apparent disparity: Black, low-income, and urban residents were far more likely to report that they were worried about gun violence in their communities.

A former Minneapolis police officer was convicted of third-degree murder for the 2017 shooting death of an unarmed woman. The woman, a native of Australia, had called 911 to report a possible rape outside her home. Noor testified that he shot her because he feared for his partner’s life after hearing a bang on his squad car.

ONE LAST THING

Some communities are using restorative justice to respond to shootings. Rather than meting out punishment through prosecutors and juries, restorative justice attempts to link a perpetrator directly to their victims to heal the harm inflicted by a violent act. The approach, which has been used in indigenous communities for millennia, is finding new currency in some cities with high rates of gun violence, including Oakland, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon. In a new installment of the public radio series “Guns and America,” the director of Portland’s Office of Youth Violence Prevention, which runs a restorative justice program, explained that the goal is to have people who commit violence take deep responsibility for their actions, while also grappling with the cultural norms and underlying issues that contribute to violence.