Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Democrats Flip Virginia’s Legislature, Putting Gun Reform on the Agenda

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Democrats in Virginia highlighted Republicans’ obstruction on gun reform. Last night, they won big in an election seen as holding signs for 2020. That story leads your mid-week roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Democrats take control in Virginia, putting gun reform on the agenda. The party will hold majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, as well as the governor’s office, after wins in key races last night. Last month, a poll found that gun violence was the top issue for the commonwealth’s voters, with 75 percent saying it was “very important.” Following the May mass shooting at a municipal center in Virginia Beach, Democratic Governor Ralph Northam recalled lawmakers for a special session on gun safety, calling for passage of expanded background checks, bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines, and a one-per-month limit on handgun purchases. Republican lawmakers adjourned the session after just 90 minutes. Democrats seized on that inaction during the campaign, and gun safety groups vastly outspent the National Rifle Association in its home state. Now that Democrats are taking charge, they’re promising to break the logjam: “I can assure you we’ll get universal background checks,” said re-elected delegate Danica Roem.

The Supreme Court will decide on Friday whether to hear a challenge to gun makers’ legal immunity. The case concerns a lawsuit brought by Sandy Hook families against Remington, which they say violated Connecticut law by recklessly marketing a military rifle to civilians. From The Trace archives: What SCOTUS’s decision could mean for the federal law that shields gun makers and sellers from lawsuits in most circumstances.

NEW from THE TRACE: Fresh data shows how focused deterrence can keep at-risk people from crime. Extensive research already demonstrates the crime-prevention strategy’s ability to curb community gun violence. The new study, looking at a focused deterrence initiative in Detroit, found the intervention had a particularly strong effect on violent offenders it reached, who were roughly 47 percent less likely to be re-arrested for violent crime. Champe Barton has the story.

Two American gun violence researchers won a prestigious criminology prize. Duke University’s Philip Cook and the University of California’s Franklin Zimring were awarded the Stockholm Prize in Criminology. The jury said Cook and Zimring’s “innovations have helped to produce a wide body of evidence that falsifies the claim that gun availability is irrelevant to the volume of gun injuries.” The Trace archives: After a survey estimated that 22 percent of guns are sold in the United States without a background check, Cook argued that the figure bolstered the case for a federal fix.

A majority of Texans want stricter gun laws. The results came from the latest University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll, which has shown that support for stricter gun laws in the state has outpaced support for looser gun laws since at least February 2015. Among Republicans, 24 percent favored stricter gun laws, up five percentage points from February. The most popular gun reform among GOP respondents was universal background checks, with 74 percent support.

Nine American citizens were brutally killed in northern Mexico. The three women and six children were members of an extended Mormon family with joint U.S.-Mexican citizenship. Authorities suspect that drug traffickers were involved in the slaying, in which some victims were shot at close range and others were burned in their vehicles. As Alex Yablon reported last month, the cartel-led criminal insurgency raging in Mexico is often carried out with American guns.

The new NYPD police commissioner pledged to tackle a shooting uptick. Dermot Shea, who will succeed James O’Neill in the position later this month, said in an interview that he will target the violent hotspots that have contributed to a 5 percent year-over-year jump in shootings in New York City.

Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang proposed ending lockdown drills in schools. “We are terrorizing our children unnecessarily,” the entrepreneur announced on his campaign website Monday. “There is no evidence that these active shooter drills proportionally help prepare students for an actual shooter.”

DATA POINT

Last year, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced 217 guns to people under 18 in Missouri, up 40 percent from 2012. —Columbia Missourian