Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: The House Passed a Spending Bill With $50 Million for Gun Violence Research

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Our newest reporting on the NRA’s financial scandals looks at accusations of malfeasance faced by the group’s former CFO earlier in his career. Your Thursday roundup begins below.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: The NRA’s longtime CFO embezzled more than $1 million from his previous company, former colleagues say. Woody Phillips worked as the NRA’s chief financial officer and treasurer for 26 years. Before joining the gun group, he was quietly fired from his post at Wyatt Company, a benefits consulting firm, where he allegedly used fraudulent vendor invoices to divert funds to a personal account. Mary Hughes, an accounts-payable manager who worked under Phillips at Wyatt, came forward with the information after reading our series of reports describing self-dealing and cronyism at the NRA during Phillips’s tenure there. Three former Wyatt colleagues corroborated her account. You can read Mike Spies’s latest story, in partnership with The New Yorkerhere.

The House passed a spending bill that includes $50 million for gun violence research. For the first time in more than two decades, the House approved federal funding for the study of gun violence. Last year, with Republicans in the majority, Congress passed a spending bill with language clarifying that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the authority to study gun violence, but didn’t authorize any money for it. The spending package must still clear the Senate and be signed into law by President Trump.

Chicago teens deemed most at risk of gun violence will receive mentoring throughout the summer. The city’s new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, unveiled the $1.4 million program on Wednesday, which will involve one-on-one counseling for 400 teens for four hours each day. “Summer for Change” will also offer participants a weekly stipend and group trauma therapy. Nearly 150 kids signed up the first day, a city education official said.

The Republican governor of Texas vetoed a bill banning firearms in secure areas of airports. The measure would have mirrored federal law, but Governor Greg Abbott said it imposed “an unacceptable restraint on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding travelers.”

A bill advancing in California would strengthen that state’s red flag law. Assembly Bill 12 extends gun violence restraining orders from one year to five years and authorizes a simultaneous search warrant for guns and ammunition when a Gun Violence Restraining Order is issued.

The parents of a would-be school shooter in New Mexico face criminal charges. The couple was charged this week with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, four months after their 16-year-old son fired a gun at his high school north of Albuquerque. Police believe the teen got the unsecured firearm from his parents’ closet. According to the criminal complaint, they were warned about his desire to shoot up the school.

An Arizona man randomly firing his gun from a pickup killed a 16-year-old girl. Police say the 19-year-old was part of a group of teenagers drinking in a remote area north of Prescott, Arizona, on Sunday when he shot his revolver and hit Aneesa Williams in the head. He was charged with second-degree murder.

An illegal tailpipe modification that mimics the sound of gunfire has some New Yorkers jittery. “Straight piping” involves removing parts of a car’s exhaust system to produce loud pops that sound like gunshots. Aside from causing a panic among pedestrians, the modification also triggers police gunshot-detection systems.

A campus shooting survivor calls for action on gun violence. “Going through something like this once is enough,” wrote UNC Charlotte student Drew Pescaro as part of an open letter he posted to Twitter on Tuesday. Pescaro, who was shot during the April 30 rampage, called for cooperation among public officials and the public in finding gun violence solutions. “We use mental health issues as an excuse,” he wrote. Confiscating everyone’s guns isn’t the answer,” he said, but neither is “arming all the ‘good guys.’”

ONE LAST THING

Meet the gun influencers of Instagram. The Facebook-owned social media platform doesn’t allow retailers to market the use or sale of guns on its site, but a number of gun-toting female influencers are technically skirting the ban while still making the gun lifestyle seem attractive, a smart new Vox feature shows. “We can pay them to promote our product, but we can’t promote our own,” said DeeAnna Waddell of Gunship Helicopters in Las Vegas. “In regards to Facebook and Instagram, it really is the only way for gun companies to grow.”