Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Jennifer Mascia]

Daily Bulletin: Walmart Steps Back From the Gun Business

Good morning, Bulletin readers. With a possible debate over expanding gun background checks looming on Capitol Hill, the Odessa shooting has just provided an example of what can happen when people denied by licensed dealers turn to the unregulated market to buy guns. That story leads your mid-week roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: The Odessa shooting is a textbook case of the risk of private gun sales. When the man who would go on to commit Saturday’s mass shooting went to a gun dealer and tried to buy a firearm in 2014, the system worked as designed: His gun background check indicated he was barred from gun ownership because of a serious mental health issue, and he was turned away. But Texas is among 29 states that don’t require any background checks for private sales, which account for roughly one in five gun transfers in the United States. And law enforcement officials say that’s how the gunman acquired the AR-15-style rifle he used in his rampage. Alain Stephens has the story.

The Senate will only consider gun bills that President Trump says he’ll sign. In an interview on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell singled out a universal background check bill advanced by the House in February, saying there would be no vote in the upper chamber if the measure has no chance of being signed into law. McConnell said that the administration is deciding which reforms to support: “I expect to get an answer to that next week.” Trump has a history of changing his positions on specific gun safety measures.

Walmart will stop selling handgun ammunition and some semi-automatic rifle rounds. In a statement Tuesday, CEO Doug McMillon said the retailer will end “sales of short-barrel rifle ammunition such as the .223 caliber and 5.56 caliber,” which is also used in hunting rifles. In addition, Walmart will end handgun ammo sales in all its stores, and handgun sales in stores in Alaska, the last state where it still sells them. McMillion is “respectfully requesting” that gun owners refrain from the open carry of firearms in states where the practice is legal, citing several instances of open carriers coming to stores following the El Paso shooting. The National Rifle Association responded with a statement intended to deter similar corporate actions.

Shortly after Walmart’s announcement, the supermarket chain Kroger asked customers to refrain from openly carrying guns in its stores. A month after Parkland, Kroger said its Fred Meyer stores would stop selling guns and ammunition.

The Trump administration wants to fast-track executions of mass shooters. The Justice Department has drafted a bill, according to the chief of staff for Vice President Mike Pence. President Trump requested the measure after the El Paso and Dayton shootings. History says the policy would have limited practical use: In the 22 deadliest mass shootings in modern American history, only seven of the killers survived the rampage.

The acting Homeland Security secretary called mass shootings a national security threat. “In our counterterrorism strategy and approach, domestic terrorism has taken a front line focus for us,” Kevin McAleenan said on “Meet the Press.” He added that a new office was created in April to tackle racially motivated extremist violence.

More than 40 people who threatened a mass shooting have been arrested in the past month. That’s according to a tally from HuffPost, which includes cases ranging from social media threats to people with developed plans who had access to weapons. Roughly a dozen of the suspects espoused far-right views.

The FBI used Oregon’s new red flag law to seize guns from an ex-Marine who said he’d “slaughter” anti-fascists. The licensed concealed carrier was also committed to a Veterans Administration hospital for 20 days. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force opened an investigation after he made the comments outside the Portland mayor’s house in July.

Three people were shot outside the Minnesota State Fair. The incident occurred in the waning hours of the annual festival on Labor Day. “It’s so shocking and brazen because we have so many officers on site,” a police spokesperson said.

A 14-year-old in Alabama fatally shot five members of his family. The teen called police in Elkmont on Monday night and confessed to killing his father, stepmother, and young siblings with an illegally owned 9mm handgun.

New York’s governor signed a law strengthening background checks for handgun licenses. Law enforcement will now be able to access applicants’ mental health records from other states when running a gun background check.

A high school teacher warned students that in the event of a mass shooting, “some of us might not make it out alive.” In an open letter to incoming freshmen, Stephen Lane, who’s been teaching social studies in the Boston area for 18 years, wrote “there’s no failsafe plan” to prevent school shootings. “Our administrators will tell you” that ‘our best hope is pre-emption and prevention,’” which “seems like a wish more than a plan.”

ONE LAST THING

A D.C. youth football coach had 19 players on his championship team in 2001. Today, nearly half have been killed by guns. Steve Zanders has coached the Woodland Tigers youth football team in southeast Washington for the past 35 years. He says seven kids from his award-winning 2001 team have since died in shootings. This summer, Zanders’s assistant coach was killed in a drive-by shooting. Zanders, who works as a federal government employee when not volunteering as a coach, says he’s “tired” of going to funerals, and worries that lawmakers on nearby Capitol Hill aren’t considering communities like his when debating gun policy. “Gun violence is in their backyard, but not at their doorstep,” Zanders told ABC News.