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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Leaked Emails Throw Doubt on NRA’s Claims About Russia Trip

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing, two pushes for gun reform from deep in the heart of gun county. Plus, the NRA’s claims about an episode at the center of its Russia intrigue are complicated by new leaks.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Leaked emails contradict NRA’s claims about a Moscow trip. Earlier this week, an attorney for the gun group told The New York Times that Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s chief executive, forbade staffers from joining a delegation of NRA board members and major donors to Russia in 2015: “Wayne was opposed to the trip.” Nonetheless, internal emails reviewed by ABC News show that an assistant to the NRA’s board president corresponded directly with Maria Butina, who in December pleaded guilty to acting as a covert Russian agent, about arrangements for the trip. Other emails indicate that the NRA paid for the delegation’s gifts to its Russian hosts. Emails from the probes of the NRA’s Russia ties have made it to the Daily Beast, as well. Here’s an excerpt from one: “…Russia believes that high level contacts with the NRA might be the BEST means of neutral introduction to either the next American President OR to a meaningful re-set in relations with the Congress under a (God forbid) President Clinton.”

A Florida student was arrested with a modified, fully automatic rifle in his dorm. Police say the 19-year-old confessed to using a device called a drop-in auto sear to convert an AR-15 to fire many rounds consecutively with a single trigger pull. Investigators confirmed that the converted gun qualified as a machine gun. According to the arrest affidavit, the engineering student admitted that he knew the device was illegal, “but said he does not like laws.”

A Texas Democrat introduced a measure to require background checks on private sales at gun shows. The proposal would make it a misdemeanor to sell a firearm at a gun show without a background check. Three similar bills have failed in the Texas Legislature in the past six years.

A bill in Illinois would implement social media screenings for gun purchases. The measure introduced in the Illinois House would require state police to search a prospective gun owner’s social media accounts before issuing a Firearm Owner’s ID Card, which allows residents to buy and possess guns.

South Dakota could be the next state to allow residents to carry concealed guns in public without a permit or training. Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, has pledged to sign the permitless carry bill. Most South Dakotans — 84 percent, according to a recent poll by a gun safety group — support the current permitting process for concealed carry.

An Arkansas man shot his parents and himself. Police say the suspect, a man in his mid-30s, was still alive when officers arrived at the home in Little Rock on Tuesday evening, but was suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He later died at the hospital. His parents also died.

ONE LAST THING

Houston’s police chief is calling for gun reform after a shooting that wounded four cops. On Monday, Houston police officers were met with a hail of gunfire while serving a narcotics warrant, leaving four of them injured. At a news conference the following day, Chief Art Acevedo called for tighter gun restrictions to reduce future tragedies. “I would express my personal frustration at lawmakers that know we have a public health epidemic in this country we call gun violence, he said. It doesn’t just impact law enforcement. It crushes communities, tears apart families, cuts lives short every single day. Acevedo gave similar remarks after the Santa Fe school shooting last year.