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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: The House Will Hold Its First Hearing on Gun Violence in 8 Years

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing, a gun researcher who’s also a proud gun owner makes the case for raising the minimum age to buy semiautomatic rifles. A House rep wants to require liability insurance before purchasing a gun. And more revelations contradict the NRA’s official story on its involvement with admitted covert Russian agent Maria Butina.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: A gun researcher and “proud gun owner” makes a case for raising the minimum purchase age for semiautomatic rifles. Cassandra Crifasi is the deputy director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In a commentary, she argues that age requirements to buy guns like the AR-15 should be increased in the name of public safety. “While an 18-year-old’s brain is similar to that of a fully mature adult, key cognitive processes continue to develop until age 26. These include impulse control, which can affect an individual’s ability to safely and appropriately use a gun,” she writes. Read the rest here.

For the first time in eight years, the House will hold a hearing on gun violence prevention. The House Judiciary Committee, now run by Democrats, will debate a universal background check bill next Wednesday. Congressman Mike Thompson of California, who chairs the House’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, said he implored the committee’s former Republican leadership to hold hearings on gun reform for six years, but was denied.

Should people have to buy liability insurance before purchasing guns? A bill introduced this week by Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York would require just that. Maloney said she hoped the legislation would “incentivize responsible gun ownership.” Another House rep introduced a bill that would ban the possession of firearms that don’t set off metal detectors, a measure aimed at curbing 3D-printed and plastic guns.

A former NRA president who attended a now-infamous 2015 trip to Moscow hoped to interview Vladimir Putin. According to an email obtained by The Daily Beast, David Keene, who helmed the organization from 2011 to 2013 and remains on its board of directors, wanted to land an interview with the Russian president for The Washington Times, for which he was then the opinion editor. The intermediary organizing the meet on behalf of the Russian Central Bank: Paul Erickson, the boyfriend of the admitted covert Russian agent Maria Butina.

Pittsburgh officials say they’ve gotten death threats over the city’s pursuit of gun regulations. The local gun safety measures, which include a proposed red flag law and ban on semiautomatic rifles, were introduced in response to last year’s synagogue massacre.

Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting suspect was slapped with 19 new charges, including 11 counts of hate crimes resulting in death and two counts of hate crimes involving attempted murder.

Middle school students in North Carolina were planning a “Columbine-style” attack on their school, cops say. Last week, officials at Carver Middle School in the rural town of Laurel Hill, 90 miles southwest of Charlotte, intercepted Instagram messages between four students, aged 12 and 13, that mentioned the 1999 Columbine shooting by name and included threats against specific teachers and classmates. The youths face felony charges of communicating threats against a school.

More than a dozen alleged gang members were indicted on charges related to multiple shootings in the Bronx. The Bronx District Attorney announced the arrest of 15 reputed members of the “280 Gangsta Crips,” who allegedly used 16-year-old boys to carry out shootings in the borough’s Concourse neighborhood between 2014 and 2018. The incidents “turn[ed] our neighborhood into battle zones,” the DA said.

ONE LAST THING

The SunTrust Bank shooting proves that we’ve become numb to mass shootings, novelist Carl Hiaasen says. Hiaasen, whose brother Robert was among five people killed in the shooting in the Capital Gazette newsroom last June, lamented in his Miami Herald column that the execution-style murder of five women in a Sebring, Florida, bank last week “was a relative blip in the national news stream.” Hiaasen added, “God help us if this is what we’ve become — numb to homegrown slaughter, unless the body count hits double digits.”