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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: ‘Second Amendment Sanctuaries’ Open a New Front in Pro-Gun Extremism

Good morning, Bulletin readers. You probably know the term “sanctuary city” from the immigration debate. Now the idea has been co-opted by pro-gun sheriffs and county officials who are responding to the gun reforms gaining traction in capitals around the country by saying they’ll refuse to enforce new restrictions and safety standards. More on the trend below, along with other stories of note from this weekend.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

“Second Amendment sanctuaries” open a new front in gun rights extremism. As The Wall Street Journal reports, sheriffs or local officials in more than 100 rural counties across the country have now declared that they won’t enforce new statewide gun laws. They include more than 60 in Illinois, several in Washington State, and the majority of counties in New Mexico, where Democrats just made the state the 21st to pass a form of universal background checks. Nine Colorado counties have adopted sanctuary resolutions in just the last two weeks.

Multiple children were killed or injured in accidental shootings this weekend:

  • A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot in Georgia by a 14-year-old friend on Friday. Officials are investigating the incident.
  • A 3-year-old boy in Charlotte, North Carolina, found his teenage brother’s unsecured gun and accidentally fired it, injuring both of them on Friday night. The 19-year-old has been charged with storing a firearm in a manner accessible to a minor.
  • On Saturday afternoon, Deon Williams, 13, was fatally shot by a friend who accidentally fired a gun that he was playing with inside a Chicago home. He is the city’s youngest gun violence fatality so far this year.
  • On Sunday night, a 10-year-old was injured in a shooting in Birmingham, Alabama, that authorities say appeared to be accidental. 

An estimated 4.6 million American kids live in homes where adults keep guns loaded and unlocked.  As our “Since Parkland” documented, gun owners rarely face legal repercussions when a child gets hold of a firearm they’ve left unsecured.

A former soldier trained the secret militia of a polygamous sect. The revelations come from a piece in The Salt Lake Tribune about life inside the Apostolic United Brethren’s Priesthood Protection Team, which functioned like a militia — buying and learning about firearms, led by a former member of the Army Special Forces — but was disbanded after leaders allegedly deemed it “too military.” The militia was meant to provide security for the sect’s leaders, and was trained to protect members during hypothetical disaster scenarios, like attacks on its communities throughout Utah.

The Connecticut Legislature will hold a hearing on multiple gun safety bills today. Among the measures that the Joint Judiciary Committee will consider are a bill to strengthen storage standards; a proposal to require gun carriers to produce their licenses when asked by police; a “ghost gun” ban; and a prohibition on municipalities implementing their own firearms laws. The hearing is expected to draw substantial numbers of gun rights and gun reform activists.

The son of an Oakland city councilwoman was fatally shot yesterday. Victor McElhaney, a 21-year-old student at the University of Southern California, was the victim of what police believe was an attempted robbery early Sunday morning in Los Angeles. His mother Lynette Gibson McElhaney is in her second term as a councilwoman. This isn’t the first time she’s dealt with the shooting death of a loved one: In 2015, a 17-year-old whom McElhaney raised like a grandson was killed in another attempted robbery.

ONE LAST THING

A Washington, D.C.-based public radio program examined gun laws in Colorado. In an effort to include local stories in the national news, WAMU’s “1A” is in the midst of a reporting project called “Across America,” and last week, it partnered up with a northern Colorado radio station to focus on the state’s existing and proposed gun policies. Earlier in the week, the state House passed a “red flag” bill, and conservative sheriffs are already threatening to sue if the measure becomes law. “1A” queried people on both sides of the debate, including the Democratic sponsor of the bill, whose son was killed in the shooting at an Aurora movie theater in 2012.