Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[United States Senate/Wikimedia Commons]

Daily Bulletin: Democrats Take Over Senate Floor to Protest Inaction on Gun Violence

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Today’s forecast for new gun laws in Washington is the same as yesterday’s: uncertain. In two new stories today, we look at how the debate is giving short shrift to the most common type of firearm homicide and assault, and an unexpected step that one city is taking while pursuing its own solutions.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: America is having its most intense gun debate in years. Activists say it’s again bypassing communities of color. The proposals getting the most attention on Capitol Hill focus on vetting gun buyers (universal background checks) and disarming gun owners at risk of committing a mass shooting or dying by suicide (red flag laws). Leaders of black gun violence prevention groups feel that solutions that more directly and immediately address community violence continue to be ignored. “We’re always the secondary or tertiary part of any national conversation around gun violence,” said the Reverend Jeffrey Brown, part of a coalition trying to change that. Champe Barton has the story.

NEW from THE TRACE: Fighting gun violence in Chicago, with trees, rakes, and cleanup crews. This year alone, the city has directed $7.4 million to programs that put high-risk individuals to work greening areas with high rates of shootings. Experts say the effort offers an apolitical option for violence prevention, and a diverse cross-section of the scientific community has coalesced around the notion that beautification presents a low-cost crime-fighting tool, with multiple studies showing that violence declines after blight eradication. In partnership with The Chicago Reporter, Brian Freskos digs in.

The White House says Trump will announce his gun package soon. That’s according Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley. But he didn’t give a specific timeframe, telling Fox News only that Trump is taking his time and doesn’t want to enact “feel-good legislation.” Separately, Attorney General Bill Barr reportedly met with senators on Tuesday to discuss a package of proposals the Department of Justice sent to the White House weeks ago.

Democrats took over the Senate floor to protest inaction on gun legislation. The five-hour session wrapped up late Tuesday night and was organized by Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated that the Senate would remain in a “holding pattern” until Trump signals what bills he’s willing to sign.

The National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm named a permanent chief. Jason Ouimet’s appointment was approved during the gun group’s board meeting on Saturday, The Washington Free Beacon reported. Ouimet was serving in an acting role after Chris Cox resigned as head of the Institute for Legislative Action in June amid an internal power struggle.

Dana Loesch invokes Wounded Knee Massacre to assail Democratic gun policies. “I want to take everyone back to one of the earliest attempts at mass confiscation of firearms in the United States,” the former NRA spokeswoman said in a Fox News appearance last week, referencing the 1890 massacre of Native Americans by U.S. troops. She made the analogy in response to 2020 Democratic primary longshot Beto O’Rourke’s call for a mandatory federal buyback of certain assault-style weapons.

Illinois appoints a bipartisan task force to explore new gun violence prevention measures. The state General Assembly launched the initiative to “review the issue of gun violence and make recommendations designed to reduce violence.” State Representative La Shawn Ford will lead the panel, to be split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. It will consider a number of topics, including the implications of bail reform on gun violence, as well as the prevalence of assault rifles and the state’s concealed carry firearm law.

Police shooting victim in Texas had an airsoft gun. On Saturday, police in Arlington shot and killed a man later discovered to be holding a replica Beretta pistol. On Tuesday night, the city’s police chief, Will Johnson, tweeted a May article from The Trace about the lucrative licensing deals that gun companies strike to allow their products to be reproduced as the nearly identical toy guns.

California police say they stopped a potential mass shooting after arresting three 14-year olds. A girl and two boys were apprehended Sunday after a local school district official tipped off authorities about a planned shooting at Desert Hot Springs High School. Police discovered two handguns and a replica AR-15 at the homes of the three teens.

ONE LAST THING

Nine months in, Illinois’s red flag law has been infrequently used. NPR affiliate WGLT in Illinois looks at the state’s use of Firearms Restraining Orders (FRO), which allow courts to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed to be a social threat. “The law has been used sparingly so far in Illinois, and advocates are going county by county to introduce it to law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges,” reports WGLT’s Ryan Denham. “Many central Illinois communities surveyed by WGLT have yet to see a single case where a FRO was obtained since January 1.” To increase low usage rates, the nonprofit Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence has spearheaded a law enforcement training and publicity campaign.