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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: ‘We Should Have Talked About Gun Violence’

Good morning, Bulletin readers. The fifth Democratic debate came and went without a question about gun violence, despite a rash of mass shootings in California last week and the continued churn of urban gun violence in cities across the United States. Below, we get you caught up on other news of note. 

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

“We should have talked about gun violence.” In her closing statement at last night’s Democratic debate, Senator Elizabeth Warren highlighted the absence of questions and remarks around gun violence during the candidates’ latest face off. The omission stood stark against the debate’s setting: Atlanta has one of the country’s 20 highest murder rates, owing mostly to gun homicides.

NEW from THE TRACE: Federal law enforcement officials are investigating whether the Santa Clarita school shooter used a ghost gun. Half a dozen current and former law enforcement sources, some with direct knowledge of the investigation, said that the weapon used in last week’s attack was a home-assembled .45-caliber model 1911 pistol. The 16-year-old shooter was too young to legally purchase a gun in California; a so-called ghost gun would have allowed him to get around the law, by making the weapon himself from parts purchased from gun-component makers. As The Trace reported in May, more and more homemade, unserialized weapons are appearing at crime scenes across California. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says that nearly a third of the guns recovered by the agency in the state are ghost guns. Alain Stephens has the story, in partnership with KPCC and LAist in Los Angeles.

A new study looks at shooting victims’ disparate risk of mental health struggles. A large proportion of gunshot victims experience above-average rates of unemployment, alcohol and drug abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder years after their injuries, researchers found. The effects persisted even for those with minor injuries. Mark Seamon, co-author of the study, which was published in the journal JAMA Surgery, said it’s unclear why gun injuries inflict such lasting harm. “Other traumas may cause greater physical injury,” he said, “but the mental toll from gun shots is deeper for some reason.”

Gunmaker Remington weighs the risks of continuing its court fight. Last week, the Supreme Court declined to hear the North Carolina-based gun manufacturer’s challenge to a suit brought by families of the Sandy Hook shooting victims, allowing the state case to continue. Going to trial has potentially huge implications for the gun industry, which is shielded from most legal claims by a 2005 federal law. An analysis from Bloomberg Opinion argues that the suit presents a thorny legal question for Remington: Should it settle, and risk inviting a slew of copy-cat suits across the country? Or should it push on, and risk a legal precedent undermining the industry’s immunity?

Baltimore’s city solicitor considers its own lawsuit against gun manufacturers. Based on the outcome in the Remington case, the city of Baltimore may bring its own case, according to the city’s solicitor, Andre Davis. “That decision by the court of appeals a couple of weeks ago was a breakthrough because congress has created immunity for these gun manufacturers that, up until now, has been impenetrable,” Davis said. “This recent decision is the first small crack in the wall and we will continue to monitor it.”

“Operation Lipstick” unveiled in Philadelphia to warn against straw purchases. Pennsylvania’s attorney general has partnered with the Philadelphia school district and the gun violence survivors group Mothers in Charge to launch a local chapter of the program. LIPSTICK, an acronym for Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killing, seeks to educate women about the dangers of buying a gun for a prohibited purchaser, one of the most common sources of crime guns.

Virginia counties may refuse to enforce any gun reforms passed by the state’s new Democratic majority. One Virginia county voted Monday to declare itself a Second Amendment sanctuary, and three others held votes Tuesday night to draft resolutions saying the same. Elections earlier this month gave Democrats unified control at the General Assembly for the first time since 1994. Across the country, primarily rural counties have sought to pass ordinances disclaiming stricter state gun laws. On Monday, Montgomery County in Texas, 40 miles north of Houston, became the largest Texas county to do so.

DATA POINT

Black Americans make up about 15 percent of the populations in Michigan and New Jersey. But they account for more than 74 percent of gun homicides victims in those states, according to a new analysis of Pew Research Center data. [Center for American Progress]