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News and notes on guns in America

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Michigan Capitol Building [Brian Charles Watson/Wikimedia Commons]

Daily Bulletin: Following Armed Protest, Civilians With Guns Escort State Lawmaker

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After some protestors wielded guns, Michigan lawmaker gets an armed civilian escort. Democratic State Representative Sarah Anthony, who is black, says she was alarmed by lax security during last week’s anti-quarantine protests, when some demonstrators held racist signs and armed protesters joined the throng that entered the Capitol building. Yesterday, at least three black civilians armed with rifles escorted Anthony to work. “We want people to understand that people of color can come out here with guns just the same as anybody else can,” said the local activist and firefighter who organized the security detail. Related: Governor Gretchen Whitmer threw her support behind banning guns inside the Capitol building: “No one should be intimidated by someone who’s bringing in an assault rifle into their workplace.”

State attorneys general ask Senate to extend the Violence Against Women Act. Citing the risk of rising domestic violence during the pandemic, the coalition of 23 state attorneys general called for reauthorizing funding for the federal law, which expired in September 2018. One of the reasons Republican lawmakers have blocked it (and the National Rifle Association lobbied against it): The legislation closes the so-called boyfriend loophole that exempts abusive dating partners from the federal domestic violence offender gun ban. It also bars gun possession for people with stalking convictions. Learn more: Experts warn that social distancing and economic strain pose unique danger for victims hunkered down with their abusers.

Coronavirus researcher killed in murder-suicide. Dr. Bing Liu, 37, a molecular biologist at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was fatally shot over the weekend. Police said the shooting was the result of “a lengthy dispute” involving an intimate partner. According to the university, Liu was “on the verge of making very significant findings toward understanding the cellular mechanisms that underlie SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

Boston’s progressive DA evokes prison coronavirus outbreaks in a warning to illegal gun carriers. Following a triple shooting, prosecutor Rachael Rollins signaled her frustration at persistent gun violence as she cautioned illegal gun carriers: “You are going to be sent to a place where, unfortunately, you have a higher risk of potentially contracting COVID-19. And nobody wants you harmed there, but you will not be able to remain outside in the community.” The message was all the more stark given Rollins’s desire to release some inmates in order to mitigate infection risks. There have been at least 14,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in jails and prisons nationwide.

More evidence that hospital counseling can be an effective tool for youth suicide prevention. For the new study, researchers trained mental health providers in emergency departments to advise parents of distressed teens about safely storing guns and medicines at home. In the course of the two-year study, they found that the number of parents who adopted safe storage practices after hospital counseling more than doubled.

College student who researched mass shootings arrested with a trove of guns. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found the 25-year-old South Carolina man in possession of 23,000 rounds of ammunition; 90 guns, including a machine gun; and bump stocks, according to an affidavit filed this week in federal court. The suspect is a student at a technical college who came under investigation after allegedly defrauding online gun sellers. His internet history reportedly revealed searches about the Charleston church shooting, the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting, and a shooting that killed two South Carolina police officers.

DATA POINT

Milwaukee saw 48 homicides between the start of the year and April 29 — double the number during the same period in 2019. The city was among those we reported on in a new feature on the challenges that the coronavirus is posing to violence prevention workers. The Trace