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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Shoe Drops on Impeachment, and Gun Reform Talks Grind to a Halt

Good morning, Bulletin readers. As impeachment drama seizes Washington, the window for a bipartisan deal on gun legislation may have just closed. That story leads your mid-week roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Gun reform talks stall as Ukraine scandal ramps up. On Tuesday morning, in a call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump told her that the White House was “getting close to a solution” that might break the impasse on new federal gun safety measures. Yesterday afternoon (as you have perhaps heard), Pelosi announced that the House would pursue a formal impeachment inquiry against the president. Senators negotiating with the administration over a package that Trump would support say they last were in touch with the president or his aides last Wednesday and Thursday — when reports began to swirl that Trump may have tried to pressure the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 rival. “I’m afraid the ship may have sailed” on passing a package of new gun laws, said Dick Durbin, the Senate Minority Whip.

Trump defends opposition to arms ban in U.N. speech. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, the president said he will “never ratify the U.N. Arms trade treaty,” which regulates the international weapons trade, because it “would threaten the liberties of law-abiding American citizens.” Trump withdrew from the Arms Trade Treaty in April, a largely symbolic gesture since Congress never ratified the treaty signed by President Obama in 2013. From The Trace archives: How a pact meant to regulate the international trafficking of weapons of war became a target for gun rights conspiracy theories.

The Army issued a warning to service members about mass shooting threats for “Joker” screenings. The Army said it received FBI intelligence about threatening social media posts related to the so-called incel subculture and the release next month of the Warner Bros. movie. The guidance was called precautionary and not related to specific plots. However, a separate Army memo issued Monday said credible intelligence obtained by Texas law enforcement described “disturbing and very specific chatter” about a threat to a theater.

Also tied to the movie’s release: Families of Aurora shooting victims asked Warner Bros. to “actively lobby for gun reform.” Seven years after a gunman targeted a showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” in Colorado, families of three of the victims, along with two of the survivors, wrote a letter to the studio asking it to “end political contributions to candidates who take money from the NRA and vote against gun reform.”

The NYPD is adopting guidelines aimed at reducing police officer suicides. The department plans to hire full-time mental health professionals, overhaul its health and wellness trainings, beef up risk assessment, and establish a mandatory program to help officers nearing retirement to transition out of the department. The recommendations follow the gun suicides of nine NYPD officers this year. The City Council has also proposed legislation aimed at expanding mental health care access for first responders, as The Trace reported last week.

Pennsylvania Democrats voiced frustration over legislative inaction on gun violence. The state House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would speed up the timeline for a gun surrender following an involuntary psychiatric commitment, but the committee’s GOP chairman said he wouldn’t address any other gun safety legislation this session, including measures to expand background checks and institute a red flag law. The news drew a rebuke from both the Democratic governor and the mayor of Pittsburgh, where 11 people were fatally shot in a synagogue last October.

Gun rights activists petitioned the Supreme Court over Massachusetts’s assault weapons ban. The petition, which also includes a group of gun owners and dealers, is asking the high court to weigh in on the state’s 2004 ban on certain semiautomatic rifles and ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, which was signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney.

A bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill that would create a national clearinghouse for school security recommendations. The group would be overseen by the Department of Homeland Security and seek input from experts before issuing guidance. The idea was first proposed by the Federal Commission on School Safety, which was formed in response to the Parkland massacre.

A man threatened a mass shooting at the University of Texas. The 25-year old was arrested at an Austin hospital on Sunday after police said he repeatedly described wanting to go to the school’s Austin campus to shoot people. His Facebook page contained photos “where he displays white supremacist imagery and points guns at the camera,” according to court documents.

DATA POINT

Training employees to respond to mass shootings is now a $3 billion industry, Jillian Peterson, an assistant professor at Hamline University, told CNN. But there are huge questions about the effectiveness and propriety of the various products and services that companies are pushing.