Hello, readers. In today’s briefing: Politico finds problems in a prominent Florida politician’s handling of an investigation into errors in its system for vetting gun owners who want to carry concealed weapons. And lots of observers are worried about the message sent by President Trump’s latest pardon. Those stories and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
More details have emerged in Florida’s gun permit background check scandal. The office of Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, a front-runner in Florida’s gubernatorial race, mischaracterized aspects of the internal review on mishandled background checks and withheld information from the media, Politico reports. Two of the interviews conducted as part of the internal review were not sworn under oath or recorded, but were described as such in the department’s reports. Putnam’s office also failed to respond to requests from the media for records of that investigation.
Expert sees legal threat to red flag laws with Kavanaugh on the court. Hannah Shearer, an attorney at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, spoke to The Guardian on Tuesday about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s record on guns. She sees Kavanaugh’s interpretation of the Second Amendment as putting a number of gun laws at risk, including extreme-risk protection order laws, or red flag laws, which allow law enforcement and family members to petition for the removal of guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others. Since Parkland, seven states have passed extreme-risk protection order laws.
The Parkland suspect’s mother interfered with efforts to get her son help, a county sheriff told members of an investigatory commission on Tuesday. The gunman’s mother also went against the advice of mental health counselors in allowing the 19-year-old to purchase a weapon, the sheriff said. “If he wants to have a gun, he could have a gun,” his mother allegedly told the counselors. School and mental health counselors had tried dozens of times over the years to get him treatment, but his mother was uncooperative, the sheriff said.
Hawaii gets a bump stock ban. The measure was one of two new gun laws signed by Governor David Ige on Monday. The other bill shortens the amount of time a person has to surrender their firearm after they are disqualified from ownership. “I’m proud that Hawaii has one of the lowest rates of gun violence in the nation thanks to our strict gun laws,” Ige said at the signing. Seven other governors have signed bump stock bans into law since the Las Vegas shooting in 2017.
Augusta, Georgia, tries out focused deterrence. As part of a new program, the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has reached out to 29 individuals who have been identified as at risk of committing violence in order to provide them with the resources they need to get their lives back on track. Similar programs across the country have proven to significantly reduce gun violence.
A school safety initiative in Indiana puts millions toward security. On Monday, six weeks after an Indiana middle school student opened fire in class, wounding a student and a teacher, Governor Eric Holcomb announced a statewide school safety program. The initiative will provide more than $14 million to Indiana schools for school resource officers, threat assessments, and security equipment. As part of the program, every school in the state will have access to free, handheld metal detectors.
A Chicago police officer took his own life with a service weapon on Sunday. Officials confirmed the 36-year-old man’s death on Monday. “We’ve made awareness about suicide a priority because we know we’re one of the departments with the highest rates of suicide,” a spokesman for the Chicago Police Department said.
Three young children and their parents were found dead in a murder-suicide. Police say a 42-year-old man in Delaware killed his wife and their three children, all under age 8, before killing himself on Monday. A neighbor told reporters that he had consoled the man the day before when he became emotional about his work and marriage. Meanwhile, a 27-year-old Oregon woman fatally shot her 8-year-old son before taking her own life.
A 4-year-old boy unintentionally shot himself with a gun he found under a couch. Police say the child found the gun hidden in his home in Augusta, Georgia. His father was arrested on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Reminder: Roughly 4.6 million American kids live in homes with unlocked, loaded guns.
ONE LAST THING
Why President Trump’s latest pardon renews concerns about armed anti-government extremists. On Tuesday, President Trump pardoned two members of the Hammond family, whose conviction for setting fire to federally owned land led to a 41-day-long occupation at an Oregon wildlife refuge. That insurrection would never have been possible if the group hadn’t been well-armed: Ammon Bundy, who helped lead the anti-government takeover, said as much to reporters in a jailhouse interview.
Bundy and his followers held the FBI and other law enforcement agencies at bay for more than a month. After the standoff ended, authorities seized more than 50 guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition. The militia’s snipers aimed at officers, who were ordered to stay back and avoid bloodshed. “That’s exactly why we had guns there,” Bundy told the PBS news program Frontline. “They would respect us and allow us to speak.”