Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

Daily Bulletin: The Pittsburgh Gunman Pleads Not Guilty

Happy Friday, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: The alleged perpetrators of the shootings in Pittsburgh and Louisville were both indicted on Wednesday, but only one was charged with a hate crime. Plus, children and teens in several American cities were struck by gunfire on Halloween. Those stories and more, below.

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

WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

A quick note before we get to the news: Yesterday morning, MailChimp, our email platform, experienced a wide-scale outage that may have caused some links not to work. Here are (working!) links to two stories related to the Pittsburgh mass shooting, which were included in Thursday’s edition but may have been inaccessible to subscribers while MailChimp was down. We apologize for the inconvenience. 

The Pittsburgh gunman could face the death penalty. On Thursday, the 46-year-old suspect pleaded not guilty to a 44-count hate crime indictment for the murder of nearly a dozen Jewish congregants last weekend. The accused gunman reportedly displayed no reaction when a federal prosecutor announced that the charges carry a possible death sentence.

Meanwhile, the man who allegedly killed two people in a Kentucky Kroger was not charged with a hate crime. Last Wednesday, the suspected gunman, who is white, shot two black patrons in the grocery store in Jeffersontown minutes after trying gain access to a historically black church. Police and prosecutors say the killings were racially motivated. So why no hate crime charge? Because Kentucky’s hate crime statute does not include homicides.

Far-right terrorism remains a low priority for the Department of Homeland Security, department veterans tell The Daily Beast. Even after the Pittsburgh mass shooting, DHS is focusing most of its attention on Central American migrants seeking asylum in the United States. Former officials say the department often punts far-right radicalism to the FBI, which itself has competing priorities.

After mass shootings, blood donations often go for naught. Many Americans rush to donate blood after violent tragedies, but a study published this week in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that some of those donations are never used. That’s because it takes multiple days on average to process a blood donation — and most transfusions for shooting victims occur within hours. “The best thing you can do is donate blood year round,” researchers recommend.

In cities across America, Halloween was marred by shootings. In Chicago, a 21-year-old woman was fatally shot in front of her two children while sitting in their car on Wednesday night. The same evening in Baltimore, a 13-year-old boy was killed by gunfire. In Philadelphia, a 14-year-old girl and her 5-year-old brother were sent to the hospital after they were caught in the crossfire of a shootout. Their spilled candy buckets were spotted at the scene of the crime. In the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, a gunman reportedly wearing a “Scream” mask shot a 21-year-old man and 17-year-old girl.

A Parkland parent unveiled a new gun reform billboard in Boston. The billboard, designed by Manuel Oliver, depicts his son Joaquin, who was killed in the Parkland massacre. “If I had attended high school in Massachusetts instead of Parkland, Florida, I would likely be alive today,” the billboard reads. Oliver says it’s meant to send a message to Floridians by highlighting differences between the state’s lax gun laws and Massachusetts’ famously stringent ones. Meanwhile, in Colorado: Less than two months after a Boulder attorney financed a billboard listing mass shootings committed with AR-15s, she was forced to update it after 11 people were murdered in Pittsburgh.

Jewish teens in Pittsburgh refuse to be cowed. The city’s young Jews say they aren’t backing down. Several of them told BuzzFeed news that although they feel threatened by anti-Semitism for the first time in their lives, they are embracing their Jewish heritage even more deeply. “I’m prouder now to be Jewish than I ever was before,” one 17-year-old said. “And I’m not going to let some guy with a gun shape my identity.”

ONE LAST THING

The midterm elections are just days away, and the NRA’s spending is still lagging. Earlier this month, The Trace’s Daniel Nass highlighted the gun group’s plummeting campaign outlays this election cycle. The trend has continued. With the midterms just four days away, the gun group’s spending looks likely to be equaled or surpassed by the combined efforts of gun reform groups like Giffords and Everytown, which it outspent 19-to-1 in 2016.

We’re keeping a close eye on the National Rifle Association’s activity in the final days before polls open on Tuesday. To follow along, visit our NRA Campaign Spending Tracker.