Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Democratic leaders meet on June 8, 2020, to unveil a new police reform bill. [AP Photo/Manuel Balce Cenet]

Daily Bulletin: House Passes Sweeping Police Reform Bill

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

The House passed a sweeping police reform bill. Among other provisions, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would curb “qualified immunity,” which shields police from being sued for their actions on the job; create a national database of police misconduct and use-of-force incidents; authorize new grant funding for community interventions like hospital-based intervention and violence interruption; and ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases, like the one that led to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill a nonstarter. With Senate Democrats blocking a competing and far more moderate Republican bill, the prospects for Congressional action this year on police reform appear dim.

The “boogaloo” movement draws increasing scrutiny. Discord, a platform popular among gamers, has shut down one of the largest servers used by adherents of the “boogaloo” movement, a loose collection of far-right extremists calling for insurrection against the government. The move comes as other tech companies like Facebook struggle to keep adherents off their platforms. On Wednesday, three men with alleged boogaloo ties had their first court appearance after being charged in a conspiracy to use recent lockdown and racial justice protests in Las Vegas to cause violence.

Georgia mayors join push to repeal “stand your ground.” A bill filed by a Black state senator from Atlanta would revise the state’s self-defense statute, which holds that residents have no “duty to retreat” from a perceived threat. Any reforms would happen after the Legislature convenes its 2021 session in January. The state’s Republican governor plans to sign hate crimes bill spurred by Ahmaud Arbery shooting. A spokesperson for Brian Kemp said he would sign the legislation pending a legal review. Georgia is one of only four states without a hate crime law on the books.

Fireworks further fray the nerves of Minneapolis residents. The nightly crackle and boom of fireworks have prompted frustration in cities across the country and talk of conspiracies about protest sabotage. But for several communities, and Minneapolis in particular, increasing gun violence has given the festive explosions a sinister air. According to CBS Minnesota, the neighborhood social media platform Nextdoor has been filled with people confusing fireworks for gunshots. “It’s more steady, it’s louder, every night,” one said.

DC attorney general targets ghost gun parts-maker. Karl Racine sued manufacturer Polymer80, alleging that the company had violated District law “by falsely representing that its weapons are legal in the District and by selling illegal firearms.” Polymer80 makes components that buyers can use to construct DIY weapons, sometimes called ghost guns because they lack serial numbers and therefore cannot be traced by law enforcement. Who uses these weapons? Last year, the Trace’s Alain Stephens reported that nearly a third of firearms recovered at California crime scenes were ghost guns.

Missouri lawmakers’ “tough on crime” bill faces bipartisan criticism. The legislation, which has already passed in the Republican-controlled House, would stiffen penalties for gun crimes, dangerous felonies, and gang-related crimes, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The legislation comes as St. Louis and Kansas City, which already have some of the country’s highest homicide rates, join the other cities across the country that are recording increases in shootings. But opponents of the bill — including some local conservatives — have implored the Republican governor not to sign it, saying it leans on policies that have contributed to mass incarceration and disproportionately impact people of color.

DATA POINT

Among Black Americans, 93 percent ranked police treatment of Black people as one of the most important issues or a very important issue in determining their vote for president. It ranked higher than any other issue, including racism, the economy, healthcare, the coronavirus outbreak, and immigration. [Washington Post-Ipsos poll]