Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[AP/Eric Gay]

Daily Bulletin: The Protesters Were Armed. The Chamber Was Empty.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Another armed protest in Michigan — but no standoff. Militia members carrying rifles were among the 300 demonstrators gathered in the rain for the latest protest of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s shutdown order. There were fewer fireworks than during a larger April 30 demonstration, when participants openly carried guns into the Capitol building and confronted lawmakers: Taking no chances, state officials had quietly adjourned the Republican-led Legislature for the week and closed the Capitol ahead of yesterday’s rally. A commission has been slow-walking a decision on banning guns from the facility. Some of Thursday’s protestors objected to the gun carriers in their ranks.

NEW from THE TRACE: Activists mobilize to repeal ‘stand your ground’ laws. Nearly three months after 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery was gunned down while jogging in Georgia, the men alleged to have ended his life now face murder charges. As the case sparks outrage and protests, a cadre of gun violence prevention activists are assembling a multistate effort to take on what they call an overlooked culprit: the “stand your ground” laws that endanger people of color. J. Brian Charles’ has the news.

Democratic senators introduce bill to regulate ghost guns. The Untraceable Firearms Act would require every firearm sold in the U.S. to have a serial number — including kits that can be used to build guns at home. Buyers of the kits would be subject to background checks. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives does not consider the parts used to assemble homemade, untraceable weapons to be guns and therefore does not regulate them. Gun reform groups Giffords and Everytown for Gun Safety both released new reports this week building on evidence linking ghost guns to crime and white supremacists. (Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.)

State-funded anti-violence program spared from the COVID axe. With is state facing a projected $54 billion deficit, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a slimmed down 2020 budget that would preserve $9 million for the California Violence Intervention and Prevention (CalVIP). The program, which the Trace has reported on previously, supports organizations that seek to reduce violence among black youth through mentoring, education, job training, and therapy. State legislators have until June 15 to pass a final budget.

Supreme Court watch. Eleven gun-related cases will be under consideration at the high court’s morning conference later this morning. A decision to hear one could come as early as Monday. Among the issues the justices could take up are a public right to carry, bans on assault-style weapons, and a federal ban on out-of-state gun purchases.

Virginia reverses course on reopening indoor gun ranges. Governor Ralph Northam issued an executive order last week that allowed certain businesses to reopen, including gun ranges. Yesterday, at the request of local officials, he amended the order to allow portions of Northern Virginia to once again shutter those venues.

FBI asks public to report mass shooting tips ahead of mass shooting anniversaries.  A bureau field office in Texas warned of an increase in threats as we approach the first anniversary of the deadly El Paso and Midlands-Odessa gun rampages in August. “Add to that, the COVID-19 pandemic and add to that the confinement of people in their homes, I would say it is a breeding ground where we are going to see levels unprecedented before of more threats like this,” an agent said.

DATA POINT

Just 31 percent of mental health patients who reported suicidal thoughts said physicians had asked them about access to firearms, according to a study by physicians at Kaiser Permanente Colorado. — Archives of Suicide Research