Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. Legislators in Illinois are preparing to take action days after a deadly workplace rampage by a shooter able to keep his firearms despite losing his gun license.
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NEW from THE TRACE: After the Aurora workplace shooting, Illinois lawmakers are reviving a proposal to disarm unlawful gun owners. State legislators are fashioning a bill to ensure that law enforcement does a better job of seizing firearms from people whose state gun licenses have been revoked. As its contours are hammered out, Kathleen Willis, a Democrat who represents several Chicago suburbs, told The Trace that the proposal would likely include funding to hire extra officers to track down the thousands of invalidated license holders who fail to turn over guns each year. Gary Martin, the fired employee who killed five co-workers at an Illinois manufacturing firm last week, was able to keep his gun even though his Firearm Owners Identification card had been revoked. Read Brian Freskos’s report here.
Meanwhile, a California program offers one blueprint for removing guns from people no longer allowed to possess them. The number of names in the state’s Armed and Prohibited Persons System database has been cut in half in the last six years, from nearly 20,000 to 9,000. More personnel could help drive the number even lower, but state funding hasn’t matched the need: Agents are working 30 hours of overtime each month to keep up with the people being added to the gun seizure list, a California Justice Department union official says.
Extreme risk protection orders are pending in at least 20 states. That’s according to a periodic roundup of state-level gun safety bills published by the Giffords Law Center. Universal background check legislation is pending in 23 states; 18 states have bills that would close loopholes in laws that address gun possession for domestic abusers; and eight states are weighing proposals that would fund community-based urban violence reduction strategies that focus on likely gun offenders. On the gun rights side, nine state legislatures are considering bills that would eliminate permit and training requirements to carry concealed guns, and 26 states have measures pending that would let people carry guns in schools.
A Democratic congressman says he has enough votes to pass a bill that would give gun background checkers more time to block high-risk buyers. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn said Thursday that the bill to close the “default proceed” loophole should pass the chamber “within the next several days.” Under current law, gun dealers can sell firearms to people whose background checks take longer than three days. Tens of thousands of prohibited persons – including the Charleston church gunman – have acquired guns that way in just the past five years.
A “stand your ground” bill failed in North Dakota. The legislation, which would have removed the requirement that someone must retreat before exercising deadly force in public, fell by an eight-vote margin in the House on Wednesday. “What you have here is basically a bill where you have the right to shoot first and ask questions second,” a Republican lawmaker said while urging her colleagues to vote “no.”
A white man who brandished a gun while yelling racial slurs at a group of black teenagers in Florida has been charged with a hate crime. Mark Bartlett, 51, was captured on video pointing a gun at the teens during a “Bikes Up, Guns Down” event in Miami on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. He had already been charged with carrying a concealed firearm. Context: By one count, between 2010 and 2015, guns — or threats made with guns — were a factor in more than 46,000 hate crimes.
A former NFL player was fatally shot during a parking dispute in Colorado. Anthony “T.J.” Cunningham, who used to play on the Seattle Seahawks, was shot on Sunday after an angry text exchange with a neighbor regarding an ongoing feud over a parking spot. Cunningham, who was an assistant principal at a high school, died the next day. “He had this contagious, positive energy that carried this building,” a school employee said. The neighbor was charged with first-degree murder.
ONE LAST THING
A violence interruption program in the nation’s homicide capital claims to have successfully prevented gun violence in 93 percent of the conflicts it has mediated. Better Family Life in St. Louis has intervened in 60 gun-fueled conflicts in the last two years and calmed 56 of them, according to James Clark, the nonprofit group’s president. The organization, launched in 2016, has four “de-escalation centers” headquartered in churches and staffed with conflict mediators, many of whom have criminal records. The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri has invited Clark to give a presentation to federal prosecutors next month.
As The Trace has reported, St. Louis has the highest homicide rate in the country, with more murders per capita than Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit. Research on violence de-escalation programs, like the Cure Violence model, has shown they have promise in reducing shootings, but as Ann Givens reported in 2017, some local branches are hampered by underfunding.