Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: Poll Shows Guns Remain a Top Issue for Voters

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Last night’s Democratic presidential debate didn’t yield any questions about gun violence, but voters continue to consider it a top issue, according to a new survey. Read on for the numbers — and a new push to improve data about gun violence itself.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Gun violence is a top issue for American voters. A new Gallup poll found that 74 percent of respondents see gun policy as being either “extremely important” or “very important” to their vote for president in 2020, making it the third most important issue after healthcare (81 percent) and terrorism/national security (80 percent). The moderators at last night’s Democratic primary debate again didn’t broach the subject. To catch up on Democratic presidential candidates’ proposals, check out our updated guide.

Experts called for improving gun data. The first of three panels of experts in public health, medicine, criminal justice, and data infrastructure convened by the research organization NORC at the University of Chicago identified gaps in “high-quality, transparent, and objective firearms data” around gun sales, injuries, and deaths; crime guns, and criminal justice. These gaps pose “a substantial roadblock to the development of a comprehensive feedback mechanism to inform policymaking intended to reduce and prevent firearms violence and misuse,” the group argued. Related: Even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s gun injury estimates are unreliable, and after The Trace and FiveThirtyEight revealed serious issues with its methodology, the agency pulled some of the numbers from its site while promising to come up with bigger fixes.

NEW from THE TRACE: Second Amendment sanctuaries, explained. In the span of two months, more than 120 towns, cities, and counties in Virginia have adopted resolutions saying they won’t enforce gun laws passed by the state’s new Democratic government. But Virginia is hardly alone. Since 2018, more than 400 municipalities in 20 states have vowed to defy new firearm restrictions or safety measures. Jennifer Mascia unpacks this aggressive iteration of gun rights activism, its legal force (or lack thereof), and its grassroots fervor, which one conservative congressman has said exceeds the intensity of the Tea Party’s initial backlash to Obamacare in 2009.

Austin Police think stolen guns are causing an uptick in violent gun crimes. In a new report, the Texas capital’s Police Department revealed that serious gun-related crimes — including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — rose 58 percent between 2014 and 2018, while the share of homicides committed with guns also rose. During the same period, more than 4,200 guns were reported lost or stolen, many of them from cars. The department recommended a public education campaign to encourage gun owners to securely store their weapons, particularly in unattended vehicles. Read more: In 2017, we published a yearlong investigation into gun theft from legal owners, collecting nearly one million police records to connect stolen guns to their later use in crimes around the country.

Half of California gun owners support amnesty for high-capacity magazine owners and restrictions for alcohol abusers. Those findings come from a new survey  by the publicly funded UC Davis Violence Prevention Research Program. It found that 51 percent of gun owners supported a program to hand over ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 bullets, which are heavily restricted in the state. Additionally, 50 percent of gun owners support a five-year gun ban for people who get two DUIs within a five-year period. “Agreement between firearm owners and non-owners on many firearm violence prevention proposals is more common than typically recognized,” the researchers wrote. The findings were published in JAMA Network Open.

A 19-year old was fatally shot at a Houston-area high school. Police said the victim was killed Tuesday by a fellow classmate at Bellaire High School just as school let out. The suspect and another person were later arrested, authorities said. “It’s utterly shocking in a community like ours,” said the mayor of the small city. “We enjoy the safety that comes with living here. We’re very family-oriented.”

DATA POINT

In the first two weeks of 2020, more than 500 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded by guns in America. Gun Violence Archive