Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Red Flag Laws Disarmed 1,700+ High-Risk Gun Owners Last Year

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A joint investigation by The Trace and BuzzFeed News into unsolved shootings in Baltimore prompted local lawmakers to put pressure on police. Meanwhile, courts across the country have issued more than 1,700 gun seizure orders in the year since the Parkland massacre, most of them in Florida.

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NEW from THE TRACE: After our investigation into unsolved shootings, leaders in Baltimore are demanding answers. At a public safety hearing last week, Baltimore city councilors asked the Police Department to provide statistics on detective staffing and clearance rates. The request comes after our investigation last month with BuzzFeed News that highlighted how strained detectives in Baltimore and more than 20 other major cities are allowing many shooters to walk free. A member of the Maryland House of Delegates said she may introduce some reform measures during the next legislative session; another said she’s setting up a town hall on the city’s crime epidemic that will address the failure to arrest shooters. Read more about the developments here.

Guns were temporarily taken from at least 1,700 potentially dangerous people last year as red flag laws gained traction. More than 1,000 of the gun removal orders were issued by courts in Florida, according to an AP analysis. In the wake of the Parkland massacre, Florida was one of nine states to  pass new red flaglaws, which allow law enforcement and other designated parties to petition a court to temporarily seize the firearms from owners who pose a specific danger to themselves or others.

A Republican senator who co-sponsored a major gun background check expansion says a new push could pressure his chamber to act. “There is a distinct possibility that we could have enough Republicans to get to 60, but that’s still an open question,” Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told Reuters. Pro-reform Democrats are working to push a universal background check bill through the House.

An appeals court will take up a potentially significant case about guns carried openly in public. On Friday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals announced that it will rehear a case brought by a Hawaii man denied a permit to openly carry a loaded gun. Whether the Second Amendment extends to guns carried outside the home is one of the key questions that the Supreme Court’s new 5-4 conservative majority could resolve in upcoming terms.

A man walked into a Baltimore high school and shot and wounded the hall monitor who confronted him. Michael Marks, 56, a special education assistant, was seriously injured after stopping the 25-year-old man in the lobby of Frederick Douglass High School on Friday. The alleged gunman, who was taken into custody, is reportedly related to someone who attends the school. The sound of gunfire rattled students, some of whom started screaming and climbing out of windows.

A white nationalist in Vermont was investigated for harassing a black legislator. Now he’s been charged with illegally possessing large-capacity ammunition magazines. Max Misch has been accused of the online harassment of Kiah Morris, a member of the Vermont House of Representatives who was the state’s only black legislator when she assumed office in 2015. Police declined to press charges against him, citing First Amendment protections, and Morris later resigned because of death threats. In January, the Vermont State Police got a tip that Misch had purchased an AK-47 and several 30-round magazines, which are illegal in the state under a new law passed last year. He pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

ONE LAST THING

Over the weekend, The New Yorker Radio Hour asked: “Is the tide turning on gun reform?” Invited on the show to tease out some of the answers to a question with big implications for public safety and politics was The Trace’s Mike Spies. In one segment, Mike parsed the power of the NRA’s “good guys with guns” narrative and its checkered alliance with the Republican Party. In another, he interviewed domestic violence expert April Zeoli, who explained the bipartisan momentum for state laws that limit gun access for abusive partners and dug into the research on their life-saving potential. The episode is worth a listen.