Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. The possible racial motive of the fatal shooting of a 7-year-old black girl in Houston is renewing attention to the deadly combination of hate and guns. Here are the latest developments in the search for Jazmine Barnes’s killer, along with the rest of your news roundup.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Activists are offering $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the white motorist who killed a 7-year-old girl in Houston. Journalist Shaun King and civil rights attorney Lee Merritt joined the search for the unidentified driver who killed Jazmine Barnes with a $25,000 donation on New Year’s Day. By Thursday morning, that amount had quadrupled. NFL player Deandre Hopkins, a wide receiver for the Houston Texans, also plans to donate his $29,000 check for Saturday’s playoff game to pay for Barnes’s funeral. Barnes’s mother, who was wounded in Sunday’s shooting, believes her family was targeted because they are black. On Twitter, Merritt noted similarities between this incident and two others in 2017 which occurred along the same stretch of highway — and are still unsolved.
The NRA spent more than $1 million on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s failed re-election bid. $800,000 of that money went to TV ads that called Walker’s opponent “dangerous” for supporting background checks on gun buyers, a review by the nonprofit Wisconsin Democracy Campaign found. In the last 20 years, the National Rifle Association has spent a total of $4.4 million in support of Walker, who holds an A+ rating from the gun group.
Will a push for gun reform by the House’s new Democratic majority help refill the NRA’s coffers? The NRA has often flourished when Democrats assume power in Washington because the specter of new gun control laws motivates the group’s membership, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. “They’re going to be growing when their issue is under threat,” a former NRA lobbyist says.
Illinois’ new governor says he’ll sign a bill requiring gun dealers to be regulated by the state. An aide to Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker says he’ll sign a new version of a gun dealer licensing bill that outgoing Republican Bruce Rauner vetoed last March. If it becomes law, gun dealers will have to obtain a state license in addition to a federal firearms license, at a cost of $300 for small gun sellers and as much as $1,500 for big box retailers.
South Carolina lawmakers want to pay for school resource officers with a tax on firearms sales. Two Democratic state representatives proposed a bill that would impose a 7 percent tax on every gun sale in the state. They estimate that the revenue could generate $22 million a year to pay for officers on K-12 campuses. Lack of funding has left more than 600 South Carolina schools without a police presence.
New Hampshire Democrats took swift action to bar guns on the statehouse floor. The ban, which was approved along party lines, has been enacted and retracted several times over the last decade depending on which party is in power. One Republican state lawmaker says he plans to defy it: “I will not be a victim in my House, the people’s house, because you guys have the majority,” John Burt told his Democratic counterparts.
Kansas City, Missouri’s push to lower homicides has been hampered by a low conviction rate. The Kansas City Star analyzed killings from 2013 through 2017 and found that more than a third remain unsolved, leaving perpetrators free to possibly re-offend. The low homicide clearance rate is frustrating for both families and law enforcement, who haven’t been able to make much of a dent in the city’s murder rate. “It’s tragic,” Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said. “None of us are going to say that is good enough.” From The Trace archives: In 2017, we reported on the toll that unsolved killings take on grieving loved ones, and the ripple effect that low clearance rates can have on a community.
ONE LAST THING
Black women in Minneapolis are being shot at a higher rate than women of all other racial or ethnic groups. A Minnesota Public Radio analysis of shootings in the city over the last three years found that black women accounted for 10 percent of victims, a rate of violence that’s higher than that of all other women in Minneapolis, as well as white men. But even when the bullets miss them, black women bear the burden of gun violence as they grieve for lost family members, care for survivors, and fight to keep their children out of the path of stray gunfire. Kenya McKnight, 42, remembers how a violent gang feud in the 1990s divided the neighborhood where she grew up: “It was war. And I had friends on both sides of that. And a lot of us females were in the middle.”