Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[The New York Times]

Daily Bulletin: The U.S. Murder Rate Is On Pace For a Notable Decrease This Year

Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. To report his latest investigation into the National Rifle Association, Mike Spies dug through more than 1,000 FCC and FEC documents. The story those records reveal leads your end-of-week briefing.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: Documents point to illegal campaign coordination between the Trump campaign and the NRA. Trump’s campaign and the gun group employed the same operation — at times, even the exact same people — to craft and execute their television advertising blitzes at the height of the 2016 presidential election. Experts say the apparent coordination is the most glaring they’ve ever seen. “This is very strong evidence, if not proof, of illegal coordination,” a former general counsel for the Federal Election Commission said when presented with Mike Spies’s reporting. Read the story here.

Newly empowered House Democrats are targeting a rule allowing guns in the Capitol. A decades-old Capitol Hill regulation allows members of Congress to keep guns in their office and carry them around the grounds. Now House Democrats want to do away with it. “Our political climate is too volatile,” said Representative Jared Huffman of California, who is spearheading the effort.

The mayor of Pittsburgh is urging other mayors to adopt local gun ordinances. Five weeks after a mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue, Mayor Bill Peduto emailed dozens of his counterparts across the country and urged them to introduce local gun legislation — even if it attracts lawsuits from gun rights groups. Days after the attack, Pittsburgh leaders vowed to pass local gun laws despite NRA-backed state pre-emption statutes.

Ohio lawmakers removed the “stand your ground” provision from a self-defense bill. The measure, which in previous versions would have eliminated the “duty to retreat” in self-defense shootings, now focuses on shifting the burden of proof in such cases to the prosecution. Democrats unsuccessfully tried to add a “red flag” provision to the measure, which will now move through the state House. From The Trace archives: When Florida added similar terms to its self-defense law last year, a law professor told us she feared the shift would lead to more bloodshed: “It’s essentially stacking the deck repeatedly in favor of people shooting other people.”

The family of a school shooting survivor is suing the shooter’s parents. The lawsuit filed last month alleges that the couple failed to properly store the weapon used by their 13-year-old son to shoot Ella Whistler seven times at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana in May. According to the lawsuit, the eighth-grader still has multiple bullets lodged in her body and will almost certainly never recover fully.

The group behind Washington State’s successful gun initiative is looking ahead to 2019. Following the passage of gun control legislation I-1639, which created new requirements for safe gun storage and age limits for purchasing assault-style rifles, the Alliance for Gun Responsibility is hoping to expand on its success in the coming year. The advocacy group’s 2019 legislative agenda includes limiting open carry, restricting access to high-capacity magazines, and expanding extreme risk protection orders to include “hate-based threats.”

The NRA removed an image of “The Bean” from one of its ads, following a copyright infringement lawsuit from the artist Anish Kapoor earlier this year. “I am disgusted to see my work — in truth the sculpture of the people of Chicago — used by the NRA to promote their vile message,” he said.

A man who escaped from prison was shot by an armed homeowner. After escaping from a South Carolina prison on Tuesday, the man kicked in the door of a nearby home where a woman was sleeping alone. When she woke up, police say, the woman shot the escaped felon once in the head, killing him. The sheriff, Rick Clark, said he told the woman he was “proud” of her: “This is the shining example of what this lady did, took the time to get her [concealed weapons permit] and set herself up to be able to protect herself and not be harmed, killed or raped or whatever.”

ONE LAST THING

The U.S. murder rate is on pace for a notable decrease this year, based on preliminary homicide data from a set of large cities. Numbers from the sample cities show the murder rate down about 7 percent on average in 2018 compared to this time last year, when the homicide rate held steady after a large jump from 2014 to 2016. From that city-level data, crime analyst Jeff Asher projects murders to fall about 4.5 percent nationally, which would be the largest single-year drop in five years. What’s behind the drop? No one is sure, but theories include better crime-fighting technology, more community intervention —and even colder weather.