Good morning, and thank you for being such a loyal reader of The Trace in 2018. Our newsletter team is taking a Christmas break, making today’s edition the last full Bulletin of the year. Next week, look for two abridged versions bearing our year-in-review stories (as well as, yes, a few final NewsMatch appeals). Full newsletter service resumes January 2. Until then: Happy Holidays!
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: Ten more companies are hit with fines for underwriting an NRA insurance program. New York State regulators doled out a total of $5 million in fines to a set of insurers that did business with the National Rifle Association and its Carry Guard insurance program, which offered reimbursement for legal expenses and other costs associated with shooting people in self-defense. Alex Yablon has the latest.
An investigation into Trump’s 2020 campaign builds on The Trace’s reporting. Earlier this month, The Trace reported that Trump’s 2016 campaign and the NRA likely broke federal law by using the same ad-buying operation — and at times, the exact same people — to craft and execute their advertising strategies during the final weeks of that heated race. Now an investigation from the Center for Responsive Politics adds a new layer to that story, showing that Trump’s 2020 campaign continues to work with some of those people through an apparent shell company. Mike Spies breaks it all down in this Twitter thread.
Guns are the second leading killer of American children, according to a new report. Only car crashes kill more kids each year. But while car crash deaths are decreasing, gun deaths are becoming more common. Researchers at the University of Michigan found that the rate of child gun deaths in the United States increased by 38 percent between 2013 and 2016. According to their analysis, 3,143 children were fatally shot last year nationwide. That’s more than twice as many as died from cancer.
The Trump administration is facing a new lawsuit over 3D printed guns. The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence is suing the Department of State for documents explaining its decision to clear the distribution of 3D-printed-gun blueprints in July. The lawsuit comes after the department failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act request filed more than five months ago.
Michigan passed new school safety legislation. On Tuesday the state Senate approved a package of bills that would create an Office of School Safety, require schools to develop emergency plans, and create mandatory reporting for threats of violence at schools. Cut from the original package: metal detectors and resource officers in every school building.
A bill in Tennessee would help disarm people convicted of domestic abuse. Under current law, convicted abusers have the option to surrender their guns to friends or family, but there are no checks in place to ensure they do so. The new legislation would require anyone convicted of abuse to surrender guns to police. Policymakers say the bill has the backing of law enforcement and prosecutors.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, a specialized police unit is disarming abusers at a steady clip. The Regional Firearms Enforcement Unit seized 466 guns in its first year of operation — four times the number of weapons surrendered in 2016, when cops relied on the honor system. The unit is made up of police officers, prosecutors, victim advocates, and firearms coordinators who target people at high risk of committing a crime, including domestic abusers and people served with extreme risk protection orders.
A Walgreens employee in Oklahoma fatally shot a customer. Following an argument at the photo counter, the clerk shot a customer, killing him, and wounded two bystanders. The employee has a concealed carry license and was not arrested.
ONE LAST THING
More than 140 cops across the United States took their own lives last year, according to the police nonprofit Badge of Life. That’s three times the number killed in the line of duty. A retired officer who studies police stress found that law enforcement officers face a 69 percent higher risk of suicide than the general population. And because sound mental health is a prerequisite for the job, experts say many departments develop a culture of silence around their emotional turmoil.
Gun violence can take an especially high toll on first responders’ mental health, a retired officer says. “Of all the traumatic things they see on the job, shootings are the biggest stressors.”