Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: A New Federal Bill Would Ban Gun Silencers

Good morning, Bulletin readers. There are a lot of Democrats running for president, as you may have noticed. With polls showing gun violence is a top concern for primary voters, we made a guide to bring some clarity to the candidates’ positions.

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NEW FROM THE TRACE

Where the 2020 Democratic candidates stand on guns. The Trace surveyed the 20 contenders who qualified for this week’s debates on a range of firearm policies. Seven have responded, so far. For the rest, we drew on their public statements, campaign websites, and legislative records. You can find the guide here.

The Supreme Court struck down longer prison terms for federal gun crimes. In a 5-4 decision, the high court on Monday invalidated a portion of a federal law that allowed prosecutors to institute harsh penalties for federal defendants who use or possess a gun while committing a “crime of violence or drug trafficking crime.” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion, joining the court’s four liberals in arguing that the vague language of the law makes it unclear which criminal offenses it covers. Alex Yablon has the story.

Also: We’re hiring! The Trace is seeking an investigative journalist to cover the gun lobby and other institutions and people that influence the gun violence debate in America. The deadline to apply is July 10. Read more about the position.

WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

SCOTUS also made it harder to secure illegal gun possession convictions against undocumented immigrants. In a 7-2 decision on Friday, the court tossed an illegal gun possession conviction against an international student who fired guns at a shooting range after he’d been expelled, invalidating his student visa. The court said prosecutors never proved that the student didn’t know he couldn’t possess a gun.

A new federal bill would ban gun silencers. Senator Bob Menendez and Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman, both Democrats from New Jersey, introduced legislation that would ban suppressors and launch a 90-day buyback period for the estimated 1.5 million registered devices currently in circulation in the United States.

Police shootings hit a record high in Phoenix last year. The Arizona Republic analyzed eight years of statewide police shootings data and found that an officer shoots someone every five days in Arizona. Most often the victim is a white or Hispanic man carrying a gun or knife. Law enforcement shootings doubled in Phoenix between 2017 and 2018 and surpassed the numbers in the larger cities of New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

A police standoff in California ended with a quadruple murder-suicide. A man in his 60s fatally shot three women and a man in a San Jose home during a domestic conflict late Sunday night, then killed himself. The man’s wife, who was able to escape, said her brother and sister were among the dead.

An 11-year-old fatally shot herself with an unsecured gun in Mississippi. The girl found a gun at a home in Jackson on Sunday and shot herself in the face. The sheriff urged parents to lock up their firearms and said his department provides free gun locks.

A Baltimore teen who was shot 13 times this spring graduated from high school. Larry White was the victim of an attempted armed robbery in April while walking home. Last week, he graduated, and this fall he will be attending the University of Maryland. “I just want to experience something different, clean my system from what I experienced for so long in Baltimore,” he said.

ONE LAST THING

Gunmakers keep flouting assault weapons bans. The AR-15-style rifle used by the Poway synagogue shooter in April was manufactured specifically to skirt California’s restrictions on assault-style rifles. It’s a familiar pattern: Policymakers ban features that may increase the maneuverability and therefore the lethality of the weapon, like pistol grips, adjustable shoulder stocks, and detachable ammunition magazines. But gun companies continue to find workarounds for the banned features. “They all shoot the same,” one gun seller told the The Wall Street Journal. Gun companies have created special models to circumvent assault weapons bans in a total of seven states.