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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Virginia Governor Orders Lawmakers Back to Capitol to Weigh Gun Reforms

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Virginia lawmakers have been called back for a special session gun violence prevention. The Parkland school resource was arrested for his conduct during last February’s school shooting. And a state earned a dubious repeat honor for highest rate of black homicide. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

The governor of Virginia called a special legislative session on gun reform. Democrat Ralph Northam said he will summon the Republican-controlled General Assembly back to the Capitol to consider a raft of gun measures, including bans on suppressors and high-capacity magazines. His stated goal is to have every lawmaker go on record with their support or opposition. As Alex Yablon reported Monday, GOP lawmakers stymied a bill to limit magazine capacity in January. Data shows a former federal ban was linked to fewer of the devices at crime scenes in the state.

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The school resource officer who failed to enter Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as gunfire erupted last February was charged with felony child neglect. Scot Peterson was arrested on Tuesday and slapped with 11 criminal charges, including seven felony counts of child neglect, three misdemeanor counts of culpable negligence, and one misdemeanor count of perjury. The charges come after a 15-month investigation found that Peterson failed to investigate the origin of the gunshots and directed officers to stay away from the school. He faces a maximum of 97 years in prison.

For the third year in a row, Missouri had the highest rate of black homicide victims. That’s according to an analysis of 2016 FBI data by the Violence Policy Center. The average age of the victims was 31, and 94 percent of them were killed with guns. Rounding out the top five were Wisconsin, West Virginia, Illinois, and Indiana.

Oregon is closing a potentially deadly domestic violence loophole. Governor Kate Brown on Tuesday signed HB 2013, which implements a gun ban for people subject to restraining orders, even if they skip their court hearing.

Labor union members joined a mobilization effort against gun reform bills in Delaware. A multi-pronged attack from gun rights activists, gun sellers, and union members helped stall a proposed assault weapons ban, high-capacity magazine ban, and gun licensing system in Delaware this session, The Salisbury Daily Times reported. Without union support, Democratic lawmakers’ support for the measures quickly faded.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg got choked up by a second-grader’s question about mass shootings. The query came during a campaign stop on Sunday. Buttigieg replied that he wanted to “make it harder for somebody who is dangerous to get a gun.” His voice faltered when he added, “We cannot let you down.” Last month, a middle school student tearfully told another Democratic hopeful, Beto O’Rourke, “I’m afraid that one day I’ll go to school and I’ll never come out.”

For the second time this year in a single Texas county, the young child of a law enforcement officer was wounded in an unintentional shooting. On Saturday, the 3-year-old son of a Montgomery County state trooper shot himself in the stomach. The incident comes six months after the 2-year-old child of a Montgomery County sheriff’s deputy was injured by an unintentional shooting.

China warned its citizens about to traveling to the U.S. because of gun violence. The advisory from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism citied recent “shootings, robberies, and thefts” that have “occurred frequently” in the United States. The guidance came on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, and amid an ongoing trade war between Beijing and Washington.

ONE LAST THING

A new project explores a dramatic decline in Bay Area gun homicides. The Guardian on Tuesday debuted the first pieces in a yearlong series, Guns and Lies in America, which aims to examine the reasons behind a 30 percent drop in fatal shootings in the San Francisco Bay Area from 2007 to 2017. During that same period, gun homicides nationwide stayed roughly the same. Some takeaways: Even though people of color are still disproportionately impacted by gun violence, the biggest decrease in fatal shootings was recorded in black communities; cities that have been radically reshaped by gentrification saw the biggest drops in gun homicides, but outlying suburbs that absorbed displaced residents did not see a corresponding increase; and the decline happened against a backdrop of de-incarceration, suggesting that it’s possible to lower gun violence without contributing to mass incarceration. While it’s hard to pinpoint a single reason for the decrease, investment in local violence prevention strategies in Oakland, Richmond, and San Francisco was singled out as a major contributor.