Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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New York State Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a news conference. [AP Photo/Richard Drew]

Daily Bulletin: New York Puts the Kibosh on ‘Ghost Gun’ Sales

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

One-third of caregivers report dementia patients have access to firearms. That’s one of the key findings of a new study of gun access among adults with cognitive decline. “Alzheimer’s and other kinds of dementia can cause changes in thinking and memory that could make someone unsafe to handle a gun – even if that person has a lifetime of experience,” said Emmy Betz, a professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and lead researcher of the study. Meanwhile, only 5 percent of caregivers said a healthcare professional had ever spoken to them about gun safety and storage.

“Ghost gun” makers will stop selling to New Yorkers. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced Wednesday that 17 websites will stop selling partially built firearms to state residents. James’s office sent cease-and-desist letters to the same companies in September, arguing that their products violate the state’s assault weapons ban. Ghost gun kits allow buyers to create functional, unserialized firearms at home, making them impossible for law enforcement to trace. “Ghost guns are built, marketed, and sold for one reason and one reason alone — to evade detection of dangerous weapons,” James said.

Missouri governor: Trump is “getting involved” in the case of St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters. Governor Mike Parson said he spoke with the president and that Trump objects to the treatment of Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who could face charges for aiming weapons at demonstrators marching past their mansion last month. Parsons has also defended the couple, saying they had “every right to protect their property.” The St. Louis prosecutor weighing charges in the case accused the governor and the president of “playing politics” and “spreading misinformation.” As The Trace reported, any charges would have to surmount a high bar given Missouri’s expansive self-defense laws.

Gun culture on the rise in more liberal, heavily regulated states. A new Boston University study found that a strain of gun culture that centers on the idea that the Second Amendment is necessary to preserve freedom — as opposed to hunting and self-defense — is growing in California, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, and Washington State, all of which have relatively strict gun laws. Researchers analyzed 11 gun-related behaviors between 1998 and 2016, including recreational hunting, National Rifle Association membership, and gun purchases. “The NRA has been spreading insurrectionist rhetoric for the past few decades,” said the study’s lead author. “The result is a few million people who are convinced that any genuine firearm violence prevention effort is the first step in a scheme to take away all of their rights and disenfranchise them.”

A Breonna Taylor protest outside the home of Kentucky’s AG yielded felony charges for almost 90 demonstrators. The protesters were demanding charges for the three officers who fatally shot the EMT during a no-knock raid in Louisville in March. Police said they refused to leave the front yard of Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s home. A total of 87 people were charged with “intimidating a participant in a legal process,” a felony that can carry a prison term of one to five years, as well as misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and trespassing. The state ACLU chapter said the penalties were “overblown, outrageous, and inappropriate.”

NRA board member fined in nondisclosure case. Paul Babaz, a stockbroker, has agreed to pay Oklahoma $500 for failing to disclose his 2019 departure from Morgan Stanley following allegations of misconduct in handling customer accounts. Babaz, a former president of Safari Club International, a hunting rights organization and NRA ally, allegedly made trades that clients had not authorized. He resigned from Morgan Stanley on October 4, 2019, according to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority disclosures. Four days later, when Babaz applied to register as a broker in Oklahoma, he made no mention of his departure from Morgan Stanley, as required by the state. The NRA recently announced that Babaz had won a two-year term on its board. — Will Van Sant, staff writer 

64-year-old motorist in Illinois fatally shot by toddler. Marita Hile was driving in Tilton this past weekend when a 4-year-old riding in the back of her car found a gun and fired it. The bullet pierced Hile’s seat and she crashed into a stop sign. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. So far this year, 102 kids under 13 have picked up a gun and unintentionally fired it, killing or injuring themselves or someone else, according to an analysis of Gun Violence Archive data. As Trace contributor Monica Potts reported in 2015, children who accidentally shoot people have long-lasting psychological trauma.

DATA POINT

The use of an assault weapon in a mass shooting (defined as four or more people shot) makes such incidents four times more lethal, according to an analysis of Gun Violence Archive data from 2013 through 2019. [GVPedia]