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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: How Hardline Local Gun Groups Produce Extreme State Laws

Good morning, Bulletin readers. One of the most underappreciated fissures in the fraught gun issue is the rivalry between the NRA and the local groups vying to outflank it to the right. Reuters is out with a smart report on the upstarts and the extreme legislation they have pushed through in some states. We’ve got a summary in “One Last Thing.” The rest of your news sweep begins below.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

President Trump prescribed “stop and frisk” as a fix for Chicago gun violence. Trump made the remarks during a speech at a convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police in Orlando, Florida. “It works, and it was meant for problems like Chicago,” he said. The practice, pioneered by New York City police in the 1990s, resulted in the arrests of a disproportionate number of blacks and Hispanics. It was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in 2013.

The NRA cheered the Supreme Court confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh… Chris Cox, who heads the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm, said the new justice “respects our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense” and “will interpret the Constitution as the framers intended.” Gun violence prevention groups are dissenting. The Brady Campaign called Kavanaugh a “Second Amendment extremist,” while Giffords Law Center said “his views on gun policy do not reflect the values and priorities of the American people.”

…whose first SCOTUS hearing concerns gun crimes. Kavanaugh will be on the bench today as the Court hears arguments in a trio of challenges to the Armed Career Criminal Act. The law imposes harsh mandatory minimum sentences on federal firearms offenders with three or more prior convictions for “serious” drug offenses or “violent” felonies, but does not spell out the thresholds for crimes that meet those criteria, resulting in contrasting interpretations by lower courts.

Carry Guard, the NRA’s self-defense insurance, is a “rip off,” warns a state regulator. In a news release, Mike Kreidler, the insurance commissioner for Washington State, heaped fresh criticism on the troubled policies, calling them “highly suspect.” “The primary beneficiary of these seems to be nothing other than the bank account of the NRA,” he added. In August, Kreidler launched an official investigation into Carry Guard.

An armed white supremacist got 14 years in federal prison for deploying the emergency brake on an Amtrak train to “save” it from “black people.” After arguing with a black passenger as a Chicago-bound train hurtled through Nebraska last year, Taylor Michael Wilson, 26, disabled the engine and tried to pull a gun from his waistband before he was stopped by a conductor. Police found a cache of guns at Wilson’s Missouri home. He pleaded guilty to terrorism and weapons charges in July.

A Missouri fire captain was charged with selling guns to convicted felons. Federal prosecutors say James Samuels, 52, bought 47 guns over the last five years and sold them without a license. At least eight of those guns were sold to straw purchasers who bought them on behalf of convicted felons. Six of the guns were then used in crimes, including a murder. Samuels, who was arrested last week, has been with the Kansas City Fire Department for more than two decades.

A 2-year-old was killed by a stray bullet in Chicago. Julien Gonzalez, the youngest gun violence victim in Chicago so far this year, was struck in the neck in an alley in the city’s Hermosa neighborhood on Saturday night. The shots were fired during an argument outside a party a block over. No arrests have been made. Also killed in Chicago last weekend: A college-bound high school senior, fatally shot while attending a vigil for a car crash victim.

ONE LAST THING

A look at how hardline local gun groups produce extreme gun rights laws. “It’s always kind of interesting when you see a lot of people in the gun control community talk about how radical the NRA is,” Greg Pruett, president of the Idaho Second Amendment Alliance, told Reuters. “There’s an entire movement on the other side of the NRA. We’re done compromising.” The in-depth article details how another group, the Missouri Firearms Coalition, spearheaded the takeover of a modest bill capping concealed-carry fees, morphing it into sweeping legislation that established permitless carry and “stand your ground” in the state. Local pro-gun politicians and activists say the NRA didn’t throw its weight behind the bill until passage was assured. But a spokesman for the establishment gun lobby returned fire, saying that the local groups make a lot of noise, but “are largely fund-raising operations.”