Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Protesters gather at a memorial for George Floyd where he died in Minneapolis. [AP Photo/John Minchillo]

Daily Bulletin: Pouring Guns on the Flames

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Anti-Defamation League: “The protests should not be categorized as ‘extremist’ events.” The Jewish group’s Center on Extremism found numerous examples of members of far-left and far-right movements participating in or commenting on the demonstrations and provided an incisive breakdown of their involvement: Neo-Nazis are using the unrest to recruit new members, spread racist messages, falsely blame black protestors for violence, and call for accelerating their goal of a race war. Militia members, many of whom align with President Trump, have called for aggressively squashing the unrest. Followers of the white supremacist “boogaloo” movement, who threaten violent resistance to gun control, see themselves as anti-police, and adherents have been spotted carrying firearms at several protests. But the ADL cautioned: “Claims that extremists are taking the lead in these demonstrations diminish the message protesters are trying to convey. It is, of course, easier to believe that white supremacists or anarchists are leading the charge than it is to accept that Americans are so angry, so fundamentally outraged at the state of their country, that they are willing to take to the streets, push back against a militarized police force, risking serious injury or arrest.”

Police officers were shot in St. Louis and Las Vegas. At first, demonstrations in St. Louis and surrounding communities were largely peaceful, The Post-Dispatch reported, but altercations between police and smaller factions of demonstrators played out overnight, escalating into a prolonged shootout during which four officers sustained non-life-threatening injuries. In Las Vegas, an officer is on life support after being shot in the head during a confrontation with another person. Separately, an officer fatally shot a man who reportedly approached a federal courthouse while carrying multiple guns.

A Florida sheriff urged homeowners to fire on looters. “The people of Polk County like guns, they have guns, I encourage them to own guns, and they’re going to be in their homes tonight with their guns loaded,” Sheriff Grady Judd said during a Monday press conference. “And if you try to break into their homes to steal, to set fires, I’m highly recommending they blow you back out of the house with their guns.” A Missouri lawmaker also endorsed armed vigilantism against property crimes. Republican Representative Tony Lovasco tweeted, “Looters deserve to be shot. But not by government. #2A.” Twitter removed the post for violating its policy against inciting violence. A California university severed ties with a sports donor who tweeted “shoot the protestors.” USC football booster Marla Brown posted versions of the message multiple times before her tweets were flagged by a former player.

The police chief of Louisville was fired over the fatal shooting of a black business owner. David McAtee operated a popular barbecue restaurant in the Kentucky city. He was killed early Monday when city police officers and members of the National Guard opened fire on a group of people assembled in a grocery store parking lot. Officers’ body cameras were not activated during the incident, an “institutional failure” that “will not be tolerated,” said the city’s mayor, who removed the police chief from his post. Family members said McAtee often gave police officers free meals and may have died shielding his niece.

No charges for the Omaha bar owner who fatally shot a black protester. After reviewing security camera footage, the local prosecutor concluded that the killing of 22-year-old James Scurlock followed an altercation and was committed in self-defense. Nebraska does not have a “stand your ground” law, but does justify the use of deadly force in response to a perceived mortal threat.

While protests gripped the nation, at least 82 people were shot in Chicago this weekend. Nineteen of the victims died of their injuries in the city’s worst spasm of gun violence so far this year. Seventeen of the homicides occurred on Sunday alone, despite a curfew implemented in response to local protests. None of the shootings appear to be related to the demonstrations.

NEW from THE TRACE: Last month set a record for multiple victim shootings, according to a tracker. Gun Violence Archive recorded 59 shootings during May in which four or more people were injured or killed. It’s the highest number in a single month since the site began tracking such incidents in 2013.

Gun background checks remain near record levels. The FBI conducted 3.1 million federal background checks in May, the third most since the background check system was established. That works out to about 1.7 million guns sold, according to estimates from the consulting firm Small Arms Analytics. ICYMI: Last month, The Trace and USA Today reported that some gun dealers subject to state shutdown orders had continued selling firearms anyway.

One of the world’s biggest gunmakers officially split into two public companies. The newly separate American Outdoor Brands will limit itself to outdoor products and accessories, while Smith & Wesson Brands will focus on firearms.

DATA POINT

Gun stocks surged after a weekend of civil unrest. Smith & Wesson was up 16 percent by the end of trading Monday. — Wall Street Journal