Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Deaf to Protests, Ohio Weighs ‘Stand Your Ground’ Bill

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Momentum is growing for removing police officers and armed guards from public schools. The Board of Education in Prince George’s County, Maryland, which has a majority-Black population, advanced a plan to terminate its contract with the local police department and discontinue the use of school resource officers. “We think that that money can be better served supporting our students with more social workers, more mental health professionals, more academic interventionists,” one board member said. Officials in Denver and Madison, Wisconsin, have launched similar efforts. In Minneapolis and Portland, Oregon, school boards have already voted to sever ties with their cities’ police departments. The police reform bill proposed by congressional Democrats would require the attorney general to create national standards for school resource officers, which are employed by nearly 60 percent of U.S. schools.

With racial justice protests still going strong, Ohio lawmakers are considering expanding “stand your ground.” A Republican-led state House committee held a hearing on a measure that would remove the duty to retreat in public places before opening fire in self-defense. The timing “tells the thousands of Ohioans who have flooded the streets in towns and cities all over the state that their voices do not matter,” the Democratic House minority leader said. More: Responding to the vigilante shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black-led gun violence prevention group is mounting a challenge to self-defense laws that critics have called a “low-cost license to kill.”

Arbery’s mother is pushing Georgia to pass a hate crime law. The state is one of only four without one. In a New York Times video op-ed, Wanda Cooper-Jones pleads with legislators to bring a stalled hate crime bill up for a vote when they reconvene on June 15: “If Georgia had a hate crime law, Ahmaud’s killers could face additional sentencing for murdering my son because of the color of his skin.”

Chicago wants to use a slice of its coronavirus relief funds to shore up violence prevention. “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on residents throughout the city, and it has caused even greater, disproportionate damage to the many communities that are already struggling from historic disinvestment,” said Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is asking the city council to earmark $10 million of Chicago’s $1.1 billion in federal CARES Act assistance to fund violence prevention work. Other elements of Lightfoot’s proposed allocations would address housing and workforce assistance. The city is projecting a budget shortfall of $700 million due to the pandemic.

George Floyd’s family appeals to the UN to support police de-escalation. In a letter to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Floyd’s relatives and attorney Ben Crump asked for support to end the use of military-grade weapons and training by local police departments, as well as independent prosecutions and autopsies for deadly use-of-force incidents.

An armed Black store owner reported a robbery in Alabama. Responding officers punched him instead. Kevin Penn called the Decatur police in March to report being the victim of an attempted robbery at his liquor store. According to surveillance video posted on social media over the weekend, an officer walked into the shop and immediately swung at Penn, breaking his jaw. The police department has claimed that Penn refused to put his gun down and that the officer mistook him for the robber. Penn has filed an internal affairs complaint.

NRA settles on a date and venue for its postponed membership meeting. The gun group’s annual convention and trade show was scheduled for April but cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the National Rifle Association’s bylaws, the organization must still hold a membership meeting for electing board members and decide on policy issues. That’s now set for September 5 in Springfield, Missouri.

DATA POINT

Facebook ads featuring armed Georgia Congressional candidates threatening violence against protesters and looters have been viewed more than 100,000 times. The platform has since removed both ads. Popular Information