Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Trump Likely to Punt on Announcing Gun Plan, Source Says

Good morning, Bulletin readers. There was talk of President Trump releasing his gun plan today. But one news outlet is reporting that the wait will probably stretch at least another week. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

No imminent announcement by Trump on guns, source says. CBS News is reporting that the president likely will not make clear his position until he returns from the UN General Assembly meetings in New York next week. What’s still on the table? Attorney General William Barr has circulated a one-page blueprint, first obtained by The Daily Caller, for extending background checks to “all advertised commercial sales.” That’s consistent with the Manchin-Toomey background check legislation in the Senate but does not go as far as a bill passed by House Democrats, which would require checks on sales between private parties. The DOJ plan would also create a new category of “transfer agents” who would not have licenses to sell guns but could conduct checks on buyers. The head of the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm called Barr’s outline a “nonstarter.” Trump has not “signed off on anything yet,” a White House spokesperson told Axios.

Fewer than 10 percent of online gun listings advertise background checks. In findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers at several universities analyzed nearly 5 million ads over the last decade from the online gun marketplace Armslist. “Individuals who would fail a background check and would be prevented from buying a firearm from a federally licensed firearm dealer would potentially find it easy to buy one in a private sale facilitated by an online marketplace like Armslist.com,” said one of the authors.

NEW from THE TRACE: A bipartisan bill targets would-be gun buyers who ‘lie and try’ on background checks. The legislation is reportedly under consideration by the White House, and versions in the House and Senate have several Republican co-sponsors. The NICS Denial Notification Act would require the FBI to alert state and local law enforcement within 24 hours of a prohibited person’s failed attempt to buy a gun. Lying on a background check form is against federal law, and research suggests a significant share of people denied a legal gun purchase go on to commit a further crime. But currently the FBI is under no obligation to notify the local law enforcement agencies best equipped to investigate persons rejected by background checks. Alex Yablon breaks it all down.

The NRA’s top outside counsel has a history of running up bills on clients, former colleagues say. The Washington Post spoke to ex-employees of William A. Brewer III, the lawyer hired by the NRA last year to audit the group’s finances and vendor contracts in preparation for an investigation by New York State officials. Ten of them said Brewer pushed them to generate big bills with “make-work” tasks. In July, The Trace and ProPublica reported on a written statement a former NRA executive sent to the board alleging that Brewer obstructed the work of NRA accountants and vastly exacerbated the organization’s financial woes as he charged it hefty legal fees. The gun group paid Brewer’s firm $24 million over a 13-month span.

A South Carolina man is suing Sig Sauer after his handgun unintentionally fired. Former police officer Thomas Frankenberry wants $10 million from the German gunmaker after his P320 handgun went off in 2016 “without the trigger or gun being touched,” according to the lawsuit. He was shot in the leg. This isn’t the first complaint regarding the P320: Three police officers have sued Sig Sauer after being accidentally shot by the weapons.

An admitted white supremacist who pleaded guilty to a federal gun charge will be released from prison. Jeffrey Clark was arrested in November after family members told the FBI that he considered the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter a “hero” and fantasized about killing Jews and blacks. On Friday, he was sentenced to time served and was released after 10 months behind bars.

An Oklahoma teen was arrested after threatening to shoot up her high school. The suspect, 18, allegedly showed a co-worker a video of her firing her new AK-47, and said she wanted to go to her old high school and “shoot 400 people for fun.” Her manager called police, who found the AK-47 and a shotgun in her bedroom.

At least 15 trans people have been fatally shot in the United States this year. The most recent victim is Ja’leyah-Jamar, 30, who was killed in Kansas City, Kansas, last Friday. Of the 19 trans people killed so far this year, all but four died by gun. All were trans women of color.

ONE LAST THING

A New York State sheriff built an untraceable handgun from a kit he bought online. Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple bought a DIY pistol kit online for $700 in bitcoin and assembled the .40-caliber pistol, which lacks a serial number, in about an hour. ”It undermines everything legal gun owners stand for,” he said. The Trace’s Alain Stephens reported in May that a third of guns seized at California crime scenes are “ghost guns” that were assembled from parts and lack serial numbers, making them untraceable.