Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[AP/Robert F. Bukaty]

Daily Bulletin: A Bill in Congress Would Let Medical Marijuana Users Buy Guns

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Your Tuesday morning briefing begins with three Trace originals. Alex Yablon takes a look at how local police are using extreme risk protection orders. Maryland prosecutors tell us they will retry the murder case at the center of our investigation with BuzzFeed News. And an ex-NRA fundraiser describes the organization’s financial excesses on an episode of “The New Yorker Radio Hour” featuring The Trace’s own Mike Spies.

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NEW FROM THE TRACE

A flurry of red flag laws has passed since Parkland, but implementation varies. More officially known as extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs), they allow for the temporary removal of legally purchased guns from people deemed an immediate threat to themselves or others. A big variable in the effectiveness of red flag laws is how (and how often) they’re used by local police. A national leader, so far, is Maryland. Alex Yablon has the details.

A murder case examined in our investigation into unsolved shootings will be retried. Devon Little, a 28-year-old West Baltimore man, is serving a life sentence for a 2016 shooting he maintains he did not commit. His conviction was overturned in February, the month after we profiled the case as part of our investigation with BuzzFeed News. Now, the Baltimore City State Attorney’s Office confirms to The Trace’s Sarah Ryley that they will move forward with a new trial. Read the investigation: In at least 22 major cities, the odds that police will solve a shooting are abysmally low and dropping — particularly if the victims are people of color.

A former NRA fundraiser describes the group’s financial excesses. A committed supporter of gun rights since his youth, Aaron Davis landed a job on the National Rifle Association’s fundraising team in 2005. But he eventually became disillusioned with the organization because of “an inherent conflict of interest” between the NRA and its lavishly paid, for-profit vendors. Davis shared his experiences with Mike Spies for our investigation of the NRA’s spending; in the latest episode of “The New Yorker Radio Hour,” you can hear Davis tell his story in his own voice.

WHAT ELSE TO KNOW TODAY

Giffords launches a new gun reform group for firearm owners. Minnesota Gun Owners for Safety is the second of its kind supported by the gun reform group headed by former congresswoman and mass shooting survivor Gabby Giffords. Colorado Gun Owners for Gun Safety formed in January. The new organizations are made up entirely of gun owners and will lobby for policies like universal background checks and extreme risk protection orders. “We’ve found that many gun owners are frustrated that the gun lobby claims to be speaking for them,” Giffords said in an interview with The New York Times. 

A bill in Congress would let medical marijuana users buy guns. A provision of the Second Amendment Protection Act, introduced earlier this month by Republican Alexander Mooney of West Virginia, would create a federal exemption allowing people with medical marijuana licenses to buy and possess guns in states where the drug is legal.

A bill headed to the Indiana governor’s desk would protect self-defense shooters from civil lawsuits. The measure, which extends the state’s existing “Stand Your Ground Law,” was inspired in part by the fatal 2017 shooting of a man who had pulled a gun on a state conservation officer. Prosecutors declined to press criminal charges against the armed bystander who shot him, but she is facing a civil suit from the family of the deceased man. The bill, which passed the state Senate on Monday, also eliminates fees for gun licenses.

There were at least three multiple casualty shootings over the weekend. Early Saturday morning in Corpus Christi, Texas, four men were sent to the hospital after a shooting in a west side neighborhood. Police are still searching for a suspect. On Saturday night, seven people were shot, including a 16-year-old boy, in Memphis, Tennessee. A 26-year-old woman was arrested and charged. And on Easter Sunday in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a quadruple shooting left two men and two teenage girls injured. All of them are expected to survive. The Gun Violence Archive defines a mass shooting as any incident in which four or more people are injured or killed with a gun.

ONE LAST THING

How a D.C. school is using music to help students cope with violence. “I was just confused; all I could do is write,” 16-year-old Christian Carpenter, who lost his father and two friends to gun violence in the span of a year, told The Washington Post. After their deaths, Carpenter immersed himself into his boyhood dreams of becoming a rapper. His Washington, D.C., high school, which draws from some of the poorest neighborhoods in the city, recently opened a recording studio, where a social worker helps students use music to work through pain and loss. The social worker who runs it says the use of music helps students to open up more quickly than in traditional talk therapy. “There’s a permission structure to talk about anything you want in rap,” he said.