Hello, readers. In a rare use of federal dollars, the National Institutes of Health will fund research on reducing child gun deaths. Two new polls, meanwhile, show just how much young people fear shootings, and how strongly they favor stricter firearm laws. Those stories and more, below.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
57 percent of American teens are worried that a shooting will take place at their schools. The percentages are even higher for students of color, according to a survey released yesterday by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. A separate new poll by Harvard’s Institute of Politics found that almost two-thirds of young voters support stricter gun laws, with 58 percent in favor of banning assault-style weapons. Both numbers are up significantly (15 percentage points and 17 percentage points, respectively) from those captured by pollsters in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting in 2012.
New from The Trace: With $5 million from the National Institutes of Health, a team of researchers will study ways to reduce gun deaths among American kids. The funding is the federal agency’s largest commitment to firearms research in 20 years. As Trace contributor Janine Weisman lays out, it will go to a multidisciplinary group of 20 researchers at 12 universities and health systems, run out of the University of Michigan and operating under the name of the Firearm-safety Among Children & Teens Consortium, or FACTS. Speaking of facts: Nearly 20 American children are shot every day, making gun violence the second leading cause of fatalities in children.
Ahead of the 19th anniversary of Columbine, students “Vote for Our Lives.” Survivors of mass shootings at Columbine, Parkland, Aurora, and Arapahoe will speak at a rally and voter-registration drive today in Littleton, Colorado. Organizers moved the date up a day from Friday after Columbine High School officials asked that people mark the April 20 anniversary of that school shooting with public service, rather than political action. Other Vote for Our Lives events are planned in at least 30 cities across the country between today and November.
A Parkland survivor has filed the first lawsuit stemming from the shooting. Anthony Borges, who was shot five times while protecting his classmates from gunfire, is suing the gunman, his guardians, and the mental health facilities that treated him. The Borges family said it also plans to sue the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Broward School District, and the FBI, according to the family’s attorney.
Meanwhile, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High will receive $3 million worth of bulletproof safe rooms. The donation comes from Shelter-in-Place, a Utah-based company that builds bulletproof and tornado-resistant classrooms. Some Parkland students took issue with the donation on Twitter, calling it “just a Band-Aid,” and not a solution to the threat of gun violence itself.
Virginians will no longer be able to carry concealed guns in Pennsylvania. Josh Shapiro, the Keystone State’s attorney general, announced the change on Monday, after judging Virginia’s screening process insufficiently thorough. The change will go into effect next month.
Ohio lawmakers are seeking to expand the state’s pre-emption laws. A bill in the Legislature would expand an existing provision that prevents local governments from enforcing gun regulations stricter than the state standard. Earlier this month, 10 Florida cities sued the state over a similar law.
Gun groups are suing the state of Vermont over its new firearms laws. A week after Governor Phil Scott signed a package of gun reforms into law, a coalition of gun rights groups filed suit against the state, arguing that new limits on magazine capacity violate the state constitution. The new regulations limit magazine sizes to 10 rounds for rifles and 15 rounds for handguns.
A toddler shot her pregnant mother. A 3-year-old Indiana girl was playing with her father’s loaded handgun in the backseat of their car when she shot her pregnant mother on Tuesday. The woman was rushed to a local hospital for treatment. Police took the father into custody.
FROM THE TRACE ARCHIVES
Who’s afraid of “ghost guns”? Police, for starters. A bill advancing in the New Jersey Legislature would make it a crime to buy kits used to make untraceable homemade guns. The measure was approved by the state Senate, along with six other gun bills. The bills now await approval in the state Assembly.
Back in 2015, The Trace’s Elizabeth Van Brocklin wrote about how challenging it is for law enforcement to trace homemade weapons, and how difficult it has been for states to regulate them. “The fact that they’re being sold without background checks or any of the normal documentation that’s used in lawful transactions — it’s a recipe for disaster,” said Graham Barlowe, the resident agent in charge at the Sacramento Field Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Since then, Barlowe’s state has failed to close a loophole that allows Californians to buy firearms kits and individual parts online without a background check. In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill that would have listed homemade guns as firearms, thus requiring a background check. In November 2017, a California man who was prohibited from owning firearms used two homemade rifles to commit a mass shooting, killing five.
New Jersey legislators said the California rampage was one impetus for their bill.