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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: House Democrats Move a New Slate of Gun Safety Bills

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

House Democrats move a new slate of gun safety bills. The legislation that the House Judiciary Committee will take up today includes a ban on ammunition magazines that can hold more than 10 rounds, a measure to block people convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes from obtaining firearms, and incentives for states that pass red flaw laws allowing for the temporary disarming of gun owners who present acute risks. Only the red flag proposal is considered to have a chance in the Republican-controlled Senate. The goal is to further distinguish the Democrats from the GOP, whose Congressional leaders are still waiting for President Trump to spell out what proposals he’d sign.

NEW from THE TRACE: Gun violence researchers find their field at a crossroads. An infusion of private dollars, coupled with allocations from state governments, is enabling the kinds of intensive and cross-disciplinary studies that can improve understanding of the problem. But scientists say that they can’t close the huge knowledge gap until Congress appropriates federal money for gun violence research. The House has authorized $50 million; all eyes are now on the Senate, which must include the spending in its own budget package. Contributor Erin Schumaker has the story.

Gun violence incidents rose slightly between 2017 and 2018, according to a DOJ survey. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, an annual poll of people 12 and older conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, gun-related crimes increased 2.3 percent between 2017 and 2018. One notable finding: 310,310 gun crime victims reported the incidents to police in 2018, a 21.7 percent increase from 2017.

A majority of Florida public school districts have opted against arming teachers. A Wall Street Journal survey found that just seven of the state’s 67 districts said they have either approved or are considering approving the state’s armed guardian program, which allows for the arming of select school personnel. Earlier this year, the policy was expanded to include teachers.

The number of shootings by concealed carriers in Illinois has risen every year since the practice became legal. The Chicago Tribune calculated that at least 62 holders of concealed carry licenses have shot someone since 2014. More than a third of those shootings have occurred in the past year. In 2012, a federal court said the state’s prohibition of concealed carry permits violated the Second Amendment.

The Republican lieutenant governor of Texas doubled down on his support for expanded background checks. Despite criticism from gun rights activists and the National Rifle Association, Republican Dan Patrick reiterated his surprising call last week for extending background checks on private sales in the wake of the El Paso and Odessa shootings. “The National Rifle Association is just wrong on this,” he said in an email to his supporters on Sunday.

A Chicago woman lost her third grandchild to gun violence. Treja Kelly, 18, a straight-A student who planned to attend college, was killed in the street by an unidentified man on Sunday. Her grandmother, Judy Fields, told CBS Chicago: “My grandchildren are very dear to me, and I’m losing them. You just have to pray about it and ask God to give you strength.”

The NRA is suing San Francisco. The announcement comes less then a week after the city’s Board of Supervisors declared the gun group a “terrorist organization” and called for the city to cut ties with entities that do business with it. The NRA says the city violated its First Amendment rights in creating a “blacklist”; the city official who introduced the measure said its nonbinding nature makes it legal, adding, “This is a desperate move by a desperate organization.”

The Trace welcomed two new reporters. Will Van Sant starts this week as a reporter covering the gun lobby, and contributor Alain Stephens has joined as a full-time team member. Read more about them here.

ONE LAST THING

A historian’s view of the gun debate. The maneuvering in Washington over new federal gun laws is playing out in the shadow of the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which reversed centuries of precedent in establishing an individual right to bear arms. In a commentary piece for The Washington Post, Wesleyan University professor Jennifer Tucker sketches how the ruling rests on a false reading of the past. “History was an integral weapon in advancing this narrative,” writes Tucker. “Through the NRA’s magazines, supported scholarship, sponsored films and a private museum network, the group tried to impose a unilateral reading of American history: what might be called gunsplaining’ for the masses. It convinced many people — including law professors and judges — that the individualist interpretation was the standard model’ of American gun history.”

More recent scholarship, Tucker argues, supports a different conclusion. Lawmakers do have the authority to restrict gun ownership and carry, as Heller itself conceded. “The state’s duty to protect the peace and promote public safety is an enduring principle of common law that informed the framing of the Constitution. In light of this history — and in line with what the architects of the Second Amendment would have endorsed — the courts must allow lawmakers to make reasonable efforts to regulate the use of firearms.”