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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Authorities Investigate Private Seller Linked to Odessa Shooting

Good morning, Bulletin readers. President Donald Trump touted gun reforms after the Odessa shooting, then ran Facebook ads falsely accusing Democrats of trying to repeal the Second Amendment. That story and more in your end-of-week roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Law enforcement officials are investigating a man who they suspect made and sold the gun used by the Odessa gunman. Authorities identified a man in Lubbock, Texas, who they believe sold the AR-style rifle used in the August 31 spree shooting, The Wall Street Journal reported. Officials suggested that the private seller may have made the gun himself from parts he procured, potentially resulting in an untraceable weapon with no serial number.

President Trump ran Facebook ads falsely accusing Democrats of working to repeal the Second Amendment. The ads, which debuted Monday, were a sharp contrast to his comments from just one day earlier, touting a package of reforms. “The messaging [of the ads] is straight from the NRA playbook,” gun researcher Robert Spitzer told The Washington Post.

The Department of Justice sent a package of gun reforms to Trump two weeks ago. That’s per a Fox News report, which says it’s not clear what’s in the package. But several outlets reported earlier this week that the DOJ has prepared a measure that would expedite the death penalty for mass shooters.

Three more big retailers asked customers not to carry guns in their stores. Days after Walmart and Kroger asked shoppers to stop openly carrying guns in their stores, CVS, Walgreens, and Wegmans followed suit. The requests do not constitute an outright ban on the practice. All but three states allow some form of open carry, though many impose restrictions on who can carry firearms in public and where they can be carried.

The gun industry’s trade group announced a $250K ad buy. The National Shooting Sports Foundation spent the money on digital, print, and radio ads aimed at Capitol Hill lawmakers returning from summer recess. The purpose of the ad buy, the group told The Daily Beast, is to ensure that gunmakers have a seat at the table amid the intensifying debate over expanding background checks.

Texas’s Republican governor issued eight executive orders in response to recent mass shootings. Most of the directives crafted by Governor Greg Abbott in response to the El Paso and Odessa shootings aim to close gaps in the state’s Suspicious Activity Reporting Network, which solicits tips from the public. None of the executive orders address guns. Abbott said he’s releasing additional recommendations next week from a commission he formed after the El Paso shooting.

The NRA is putting big money behind the GOP leader of the Virginia House. The National Rifle Association gave $200,000 to the political action fund of House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert, who in July adjourned a special legislative session after only 90 minutes that was convened after May’s mass shooting in Virginia Beach.

Nearly 350 children unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else every year. That’s from a new report on safe gun storage by Everytown For Gun Safety. The report also found that 590 children under 18 die by gun suicide each year, most often with firearms belonging to a family member. (Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.)

Police used Florida’s red flag law to disarm a diagnosed schizophrenic who threatened to “kill everyone around him” at an Orlando hotel. The man told police that voices in his head were telling him to shoot people, and that he carried a handgun and 115 bullets for protection. He was committed to a mental health facility.

A sergeant with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections was gunned down in an act of road rage. Tracey Smith, 46, was giving her teenage son a driving lesson in Milwaukee when her car was hit by another motorist. When she got out, he shot her in the chest. The suspect fled the scene and was later arrested. Smith was a 23-year veteran of the department.

ONE LAST THING

Two former educators in Florida launched a mass shooting prep business for teachers. Julie Johnson started teaching in 1999, the year of the Columbine High School massacre. “The horror struck me — ‘what would I do?’” she recalled. In 2017, one of her students threatened to shoot up her classroom, but was intercepted by a school resource officer. Johnson quit her teaching job the next year and joined forces with a fellow educator and a martial arts instructor to launch Teachers Not Targets. The business helps educators prepare for and survive a mass shooting, providing training on everything from self-defense tactics and trauma counseling in the aftermath of an event. She’s now fielding offers from out-of-state school districts who want to prepare for the worst. “When stuff goes down at a school, law enforcement isn’t there yet, so then what do you do?” one of her business partners told the Panama City News Herald.