Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Scott Stedman]

Daily Bulletin: The NRA Says Russia Junket Proceeded Without OK From HQ

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Months of study by agents and behavioral specialists has turned up no explanation for the deadliest mass shooting in American history, the FBI says. Meanwhile, an anonymous tech executive purchased the gunman’s $62,000 arsenal with the intent to destroy it.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

The NRA is trying to distance itself from a 2015 trip to Russia. The junket, which brought National Rifle Association board members and high-dollar donors to Moscow, was arranged with the help of Maria Butina, who pleaded guilty to being a covert Russian agent in December. Now an outside lawyer for the gun group is telling The New York Times  that NRA boss Wayne LaPierre forbade staff members from joining the delegation. He did not explain how or why the trip proceeded despite LaPierre’s opposition. The Times notes that five separate government inquiries either have or are currently probing the NRA’s Russia ties.

The New York Legislature passed several bills to tighten the state’s gun laws. A package of gun reform legislation is headed to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk. The measures approved Tuesday include a “red flag” law, a bump stock ban, and legislation to prohibit districts from allowing school employees to carry guns in schools. ​Cuomo has promised to sign the bills into law.

The FBI has concluded its investigation into the Las Vegas massacre. The agency found no central motive for the worst mass shooting in American history, beyond the gunman’s desire for notoriety. “It wasn’t about MGM, Mandalay Bay, or a specific casino or venue,” said the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Las Vegas office. “It was all about doing the maximum amount of damage and him obtaining some form of infamy.”

An anonymous donor bought the Las Vegas gunman’s weapons in order to destroy them. After hearing about the debate over whether to sell the guns to raise money for the victims or have them destroyed, an anonymous businessman donated $62,500 — the cost of the arsenal — to destroy them. That plan is on hold for now, though, because one of the victim’s families may use the guns as evidence to sue the manufacturer. “I just don’t want them back on the streets,” the buyer said.

The Pittsburgh synagogue gunman is facing additional charges. A federal grand jury yesterday charged the suspect in the October shooting with additional federal hate crimes and firearms offenses.

Stephon Clark’s family is suing the police who shot him in his grandmother’s backyard. Clark, 22, was shot seven times in 2018 by police who claimed they believed the cell phone he was holding was a gun. The wrongful death lawsuit filed Monday alleges that the Sacramento Police racially profiled Clark and used excessive force. It also alleges that the officers did not attempt to get Clark medical treatment after he was struck at least seven times by police bullets.

The SunTrust Bank gunman bought guns and ammo just days before the shooting. Police confirmed that the 21-year-old accused of killing five people inside a Florida bank last week recently purchased a 9mm handgun and bullets in a legal sale. Investigators are working to determine whether the weapon he recently bought was the same one used to kill five women in the bank.  

A 27-year-old medical resident in Utah was shot by her boyfriend in a murder-suicide. Sarah Hawley and her 30-year-old boyfriend were found dead in a Salt Lake City apartment on Sunday night. The woman, who had recently graduated from medical school in California, was committed to helping women and children in underserved communities.

ONE LAST THING

Policymakers have failed to understand Chicago’s changing gang culture, argues a new report from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Shootings in the city are no longer fueled by the large-scale territory disputes often associated with gangs and the drug trade. Instead, the researchers say, violence is concentrated in largely African-American communities with a historic lack of opportunity and economic resources. The report calls for reinvestment in these areas, and community intervention strategies that enlist people who have done harm to help stop cycles of violence. “Chicago is a city of neighborhoods,” said one of the report’s authors. “Why are we neglecting these neighborhoods? Let’s talk about hope and security and safety in these neighborhoods.”