Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

Daily Bulletin: Federal Background Checks on Pace for Record High This Year

Good morning, Bulletin readers. Less than two weeks after the deadly shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, California, Los Angeles County authorities say they’ve disrupted two school shooting plots. More on those cases, and other news of note, in your Monday briefing.

Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.

WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Federal gun background checks have surged in 2019. The FBI is processing so many requests to vet gun buyers that it may break the single-year record of 27.5 million federal gun background checks set in 2016, USA Today reports. Because the government does not track individual gun sales, background check requests are used as a proxy for demand in the firearms market. Experts attribute the rise to calls for gun restrictions that have followed a series of high-profile mass shootings this year. “How far you can go in that direction is yet to be determined, but it does suggest how flexible the market is for gun sales,” said Robert Spitzer, a professor at the State University of New York, Cortland.

Two mass shooting threats were foiled in Los Angeles County, the sheriff there said. In the first case, a 13-year-old was arrested on Thursday. A police search of the teen’s home yielded an assault-style rifle with a high-capacity ammo magazine, officers said, along with a hand-drawn map of his South Los Angeles middle school and a list with the names of fellow students and school staff. In a second Thursday incident, this one in Palmdale, officers were notified of threats posted to social media following an on-campus fight. Each school is less than 50 miles away from the city of Santa Clarita, where a 16-year-old armed with a ghost gun killed two fellow students on November 14. “We’ve received a series of threats from the Saugus shooting forward to today and we’ve acted on all of them,” said Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva during a press conference.

Two boys were fatally shot in a van in Northern California. The killings happened early Saturday morning in an elementary school parking lot in the town of Union City, about 20 miles from Oakland. The victims were aged 11 and 14. “The Union City Police Department is diligently looking into the motive for this tragic incident,” the department said in a statement.

“Second Amendment sanctuaries” take root in Virginia. With this month’s elections giving Democrats unified power, the state is poised to consider a raft of gun reforms. Adopting the stance of pro-gun rural officials elsewhere, at least nine Virginia counties have now passed resolutions to defy any new firearm laws that make it onto the books. A member of the Virginia Citizens Defense League, a gun rights group, told The Washington Post his organization had drafted sanctuary resolution language for roughly two dozen additional counties.

A police shooting of a fellow officer has revealed the racial divide among St. Louis cops. The New York Times looked at the case of black officer Milton Green, who was shot while off duty by a white colleague pursuing an armed suspect. The accounts of what happened are disputed, but the larger divides are clear. “There is still quite a bit of racial tension in the department,” said Col. John W. Hayden Jr., the city’s black police commissioner. “The tension continues because people are expecting more out of each other and they’re not tolerant, nor should they be, of things that are insensitive.”

A suspect in Alabama is in custody after a manhunt following the fatal shooting of a sheriff. Lowndes County Sheriff John Williams was killed in the line of duty Saturday night in a small town near Montgomery. The 18-year-old suspect was apprehended hours later. Williams was the fifth police officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty in the state this year, according to the Alabama attorney general.

DATA POINT

So far this year, there have been 45 shootings on school property that have injured or killed at least one victim. [CNN]