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News and notes on guns in America

Daily Bulletin: The NRA Has a New Letter Grade For Candidates It REALLY Doesn’t Like

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In every election between 2010 and 2016, the NRA set new federal campaign spending records for itself. This year, it’s a different story. Tipped off to the decline by our NRA Campaign Spending Tracker, Daniel Nass took a closer look at the lagging spending, and what it could mean for the midterm elections next month. That story and more, below.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

New from the Trace: The NRA’s midterm spending is way down. The National Rifle Association has paid out just $4.9 million in the 2018 midterms, less than it had spent at this point in any of the previous four elections. Using our NRA Campaign Spending Tracker, we dug into the numbers. Some things we noticed: The gun group is active in fewer races than in past cycles. And federal campaign spending by pro-gun control organizations is keeping pace with the NRA’s this year. Daniel Nass breaks it all down.

The NRA is still using a possible shell company for election work. On Friday, the group dropped more than $830,000 in support of Missouri GOP Senate candidate Josh Hawley using a mystery firm called Starboard Strategic. Previous reporting by The Trace has shown that Starboard — whose only client is the NRA — appears to be one and the same with OnMessage Inc., a conservative political consulting firm used by Hawley. Campaign finance watchdogs have told us the arrangement could skirt laws against unfair coordination and listing a pass-through, rather than the actual recipient of funds, in filings.

The gun group has introduced a new letter grade for candidates it really doesn’t like. The “Fx” designation is reserved for candidates in the state of Florida “who requested and received the endorsement of Bloomberg’s anti-gun groups, Moms Demand Action & Everytown for Gun Safety.” (Everytown for Gun Safety provides grant funding to The Trace through its 501c3.)

Gun violence reduction efforts may be more effective when paired with anti-poverty measures, forthcoming study in The Journal of Pediatric Surgery suggests. Researchers at the University of Florida noted an increase in young gunshot victims treated by the trauma team at University of Florida Health Jacksonville over a 20-year period, despite anti-gun violence efforts by law enforcement and legislators. Incidents of gunshot injuries seemed to track with poverty rates. “Poverty and disparities go hand in hand with gun violence,” the study’s lead author said. “Solutions require an understanding of the bigger social problems — we need a strategy to address gun violence at its core.”

Fifth Third Bank is cutting ties to the gun industry after a mass shooting hits home. According to the Florida-based gun manufacturer Spike Tactical, representatives from the bank visited its headquarters last Tuesday to warn that it would be “discreetly” ending its business relationships with gun industry clients. Last month, the Fifth Third Bank Center in Cincinnati was the site of a gun rampage that left three dead and two others wounded.

Kanye West will meet with the president to discuss Chicago gun violence. According to the White House press secretary, the rapper is scheduled to have lunch with President Trump on Thursday to discuss a range of issues, including “what can be done to reduce violence in Chicago,” West’s hometown. Related: The mayor of Chicago says stop-and-frisk, which President Trump said would “help straighten out the terrible shooting wave,” would only hurt public trust in police.

A transgender student in Virginia was reportedly excluded from an active-shooter drill. According to a Facebook post from an LGBTQ+ rights group in Stafford, Virginia, the middle school student was left to sit alone in the gym during the drill because teachers could not decide which bathroom she should take shelter in.

A man with a gun to his head prompted a four-hour shutdown of a Utah freeway. During rush hour on Monday evening, both directions of the I-15 freeway were blocked as police negotiated with a 35-year-old man with a gun. Police arrested the man, who did not point the gun at anyone else.

A 7-year-old found a gun near some candy and unintentionally shot his sister. Police say the boy’s grandfather, who got a handgun after several break-ins, had left the firearm in a drawer near a pile of candy in a Virginia home. When the child found the gun on Monday afternoon, he unintentionally fired it, killing his 5-year-old sister.

ONE LAST THING

One Oklahoma school district has lost three students to gun violence in the past 14 months. Kaylen Thomas, 16, was fatally shot on Friday at a home in McLoud, Oklahoma. Two teenagers, including one of her classmates, were arrested in connection with the shooting. Thomas’s death comes just months after another student, 17-year-old Rayden French, was shot to death by his brother in July. Shortly before that, another student took her own life. From The Trace archives: Excel Academy in Baltimore lost five students to gun violence in a single year. In the midst of that deadly streak, the school’s principal told us how she balanced her own grief with trying to rebuild her students’ sense of security.