Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: A new tally of school shootings in the United States. New NRA grades are out in hotly contested races. And fresh numbers show progress — and the obstacles that remain — in disarming prohibited gun owners in California. All of that and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The Department of Homeland Security just launched a comprehensive school shootings tracker. The database, created by a couple of post-doctoral students working under DHS, defines school shootings as any time “a gun is brandished, is fired, or a bullet hits school property, for any reason” at a K-12 campus and culls its incidents from a variety of government and media sources. By its criteria, the database counts more than 1,300 school shootings since 1970, which can be sorted by casualty counts, type of firearm used, state, and the shooter’s relationship to the school.
Gun reform advocates are suing the ATF and DOJ. On Tuesday, the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence filed a lawsuit to compel the government to release any communications between Justice Department employees and the National Rifle Association or other gun groups. The complaint follows a FOIA request filed in response to a 2017 memo in which the deputy director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives suggests easing certain firearms regulations. Giffords is also opposing a Trump judicial nominee over his position on 3-D printed guns. Chad Readler is up for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. As a top Justice Department lawyer, he oversaw the Trump administration’s decision to abruptly withdraw the federal government’s objections to downloadable guns over the summer.
The NRA dropped a six-figure campaign ad in Indiana. On Wednesday, the NRA spent $766,115 opposing Senator Joe Donnelly, a Democrat seeking re-election. The gun group used the firm Starboard Strategic to launch the campaign ad, titled “DC Joe.” The ad depicts the senator as siding with “liberal anti-gun elites” after he voted against Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation.
Florida Governor Rick Scott lost his A+ rating over the post-Parkland gun reforms he signed. Scott was downgraded to a C after backing a raft of gun legislation in March. Scott, a Republican running for Senate, is locked in tight race with incumbent Bill Nelson.
A Democratic senator’s grade took a bigger hit for his vote against
Kavanaugh. Montana Senator Jon Tester went from A- rating from the NRA to a D after his “no” vote. Context: The NRA began grading senators’ Supreme Court votes in 2009, when President Obama made his first appointment.
California officers have taken more than 18,000 illegal guns from formerly lawful owners in the last 5 years. The state goes farther than others by sending agents to disarm gun owners who acquired their guns legally but were later barred from possessing firearms because of disqualifying behavior. But officials say there’s still a backlog of more than 10,000 prohibited gun owners to check on — and the list keeps growing.
A 7-year-old girl was killed by a bullet meant for her 16-year-old uncle. Dashay Z’naiah Burns was fatally shot in Flint, Michigan, on Tuesday night when shots were fired into a home from across an adjacent field. Police are searching for the suspects.
Two people were killed and one other injured in a shooting at a Florida shopping center. During a birthday celebration at the Bell Tower shops in Fort Myers, a woman says a gunman shot her husband. When her son tried to flee, she says the shooter then shot and killed him, too. Another woman was shot and taken to the hospital in critical condition. Police say the victims and the suspect knew each other and the shooting was “targeted.”
ONE LAST THING
A Michigan mother is suing the cops who refused to disarm her daughter’s killer. In 2016, Rosemarie Reilly, 21, was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend, against whom she had a permanent protective order. Despite the fact that Reilly had repeatedly reported the abuse, including previous violations of the order, the man was never taken into custody and was able to keep his guns. His father, also a cop, is among those named in the lawsuit filed Friday.
Federal law prohibits someone from possessing guns if they are under a final protective order for domestic abuse or have been convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. But it doesn’t specify how to take away the guns already in the possession of alleged abusers, and for practical purposes, the job of removing firearms falls to local law enforcement.
As Alex Yablon wrote last week, tougher state laws can significantly reduce rates of intimate partner homicide. Several studies have found that state laws mandating the removal of guns from domestic abusers may save significant numbers of lives.