Good morning, Bulletin readers. Zero Republicans have signed on to support re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act since Democrats added a provision meant to protect victims of stalking and violent dating relationships from armed abusers. Now, the NRA is weighing in.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The NRA will urge members of Congress to vote against the Violence Against Women Act. The gun group will reportedly designate lawmakers’ positions on reauthorizing the act a “key vote” that will impact the grades they receive from the National Rifle Association when running for re-election next year. The group came out in opposition to the legislation after a Monday conference call in which Republicans reportedly asked for political cover to vote against the bill. A spokesperson for the NRA told National Journal that its opposition comes from provisions that would extend gun bans to cover people convicted of misdemeanor stalking and domestic violence occurring in dating relationships. Get the facts: Domestic violence victims are five times more likely to end up dead if their abuser has access to a gun.
Meanwhile, emails show an NRA official floating a Parkland conspiracy theory. In correspondence obtained by HuffPost, an NRA training instructor and program coordinator contacted an infamous Sandy Hook hoaxer. “There is so much more to this story,” reads the email, which was sent from his official NRA email address. “[The Parkland shooter] was not alone.” The email’s recipient was Wolfgang Halbig, an InfoWars contributor who has harassed families of Sandy Hook victims.
Pittsburgh’s assault weapon ban passed its first hurdle. With a 6-3 initial vote yesterday, the City Council brought Pittsburgh one step closer to outlawing the use of certain high-powered rifles and firearm accessories. The ordinance was introduced following the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in October. Gun rights advocates are poised to launch a legal challenge if it passes. City Council members are thinking two steps ahead. The bill restricts the use of AR-15s and high-capacity magazines, as opposed to their ownership or possession, in a bid to get around the state law barring cities from regulating guns.
Utah’s governor signed a “stand your ground” expansion. The measure signed into law on Tuesday eliminates the duty to retreat in self-defense shootings. The state already recognizes the right to self-defense under “reasonable” circumstances. The law expands the scope of what is considered reasonable to include the use of lethal force even when there might be a safer alternative.
A college student is facing deportation after attempting to buy a gun. The owner of an upstate New York gun store says the 19-year-old student from Shanghai walked into his store in early March with his passport and student visa to ask whether he could buy a high-end rifle. The owner then called federal authorities to ask about regulations. When FBI agents arrived a half hour later, they turned the student in to his college dean, who immediately expelled him, invalidating the student’s visa.
A 25-year-old was killed in front of his children during a road rage shooting. Philadelphia police are still searching for the driver of a black Chrysler who almost collided with another car on Friday, prompting a heated argument that ended with the Chrysler driver pulling out his weapon and firing at the other driver. Law enforcement officials say Shaquil Mack, 25, was fatally shot while his children, their mother, and their cousin watched from inside the vehicle. A bill in Pennsylvania would ban loaded guns in vehicles. “Bianca’s Law” was inspired by the fatal shooting of a college-bound 18 year old in a 2017 road rage incident outside of Philly.
ONE LAST THING
A new look at how bigger bullets may be driving up city homicide rates. A study last year found that people shot with higher-caliber weapons were more likely to die than those hit with smaller bullets. Recently, the researchers calculated the effect that the proliferation of large bullets has had on the homicide rate. If every shot fired in Boston between 2010 and 2015 had come from a gun using large-caliber ammunition, they found, the city’s homicide rate could have been 43 percent higher. As one of the study’s authors told The Trace last year: “There are two fundamental empirical issues in the debate over gun control: Does the type of weapon matter to lethality, and does the general availability of guns increase crime? If you believe those things matter, then you can make policy to save lives.” Here’s our own 2016 investigation into how American’s obsession with powerful handguns is giving criminals deadlier tools.