Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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A memorial at the site where 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins and her father Jonathan were shot on the South Side of Chicago in 2013. Jonylah later died of her wounds. [Ralf-Finn Hestoft/Corbis via Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: Chicago’s Violent Weekend Is a Stark Reminder of ‘Murder Inequality’

Hello, readers. In today’s briefing: A protest over a stand your ground killing in Florida, a possible plot to train school shooters in the New Mexico desert, and a shadow federal report on the role of guns in campus violence.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

The family of Markeis McGlockton led a rally against Florida’s “stand your ground” law. The Florida man was gunned down in a parking lot last month while defending his partner and their young children during an argument over a handicapped parking space. The sheriff’s office declined to arrest the gunman, citing Florida’s “stand your ground” law. On Wednesday, McGlockton’s family joined lawyers and faith leaders in a sit-in protest at Governor Rick Scott’s Tallahassee office, following a rally at a nearby church.

Federal agents raided a compound where a man was reportedly training kids to become school shooters. Prosecutors say the Federal Bureau of Investigation discovered 11 neglected children between the ages of 1 and 15 and the remains of another child when they raided the New Mexico compound last week. They also found a cache of weapons, including an AR-15, five loaded 30-round magazines, and four loaded pistols. The suspect stated repeatedly that he had a concealed carry license from his home state of Georgia and that the guns were his property.

Alex Jones’s lawyer tries to compel Sandy Hook parents to make their addresses public. As part of their defamation suit against the InfoWars host, Leonard Pozner and Veronique De La Rosa filed a document detailing the emotional distress caused by Jones’s claims that the shooting was a government plot and the security measures they have had to pay for as protection from the hoaxers who have harassed them. They left off their addresses, as a safety precaution; based on that purposeful omission, Jones’s lawyer asked the court to toss out the document. Retorts a lawyer for the couple: “They’re using an old, outdated law to intimidate these people and it’s just sick.”

An assault weapons ban in Cook County, Illinois, can stay on the books. Last week, a federal judge struck down a legal challenge brought by two gun owners over the county’s ban on certain assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

The newspaper that published an unredacted Parkland school shooting report could face charges. On Monday, the Broward County School Board asked a judge to hold the Sun Sentinel and two of its reporters in contempt. The paper insists that the previously redacted information they published, which regarded the district’s handling of the gunman’s mental health needs, is in the public interest.

Betsy DeVos won’t study the role of guns in school safety. So two U.S. lawmakers commissioned their own study and sent it to her. Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Katherine Clark of Massachusetts implored the secretary of education to have her Federal Commission on School Safety consider the merits of certain gun reform measures. Warren and Clark’s offices surveyed education professionals, who support universal background checks, extreme risk protection order laws, and bump stock bans as policies that would “help reduce the risk of gun violence in schools.”

Mental health professionals in New Jersey are worried about a new state gun law. Some say they are concerned that the amended “Duty to Warn Law” — which requires them to alert police about patients who threaten to harm themselves or others — could deter people in crisis from seeking treatment. New Jersey law previously required mental health professionals to warn potential targets only.

Charleston, South Carolina, is considering a bump stock ban. At today’s meeting, the city’s Public Safety Committee will take up an ordinance banning firearm enhancements that allow semiautomatic guns to mimic the rate of fire of fully-automatic weapons. ICYMI: Last week’s police report is the first to detail the extent of the Las Vegas gunman’s use of bump stocks in October’s catastrophic shooting. With the aid of the devices, the gunman unleashed 1,049 rounds in 11 minutes.

A man killed a woman and himself at a suburban New York hospital. The Westchester Medical Center went on lockdown Wednesday morning after a man in his 70s fatally shot his wife in her hospital bed before shooting himself. Doctors attempted to save the couple, but they died.

A 10-year-old boy in Texas was shot in the leg by a teenager showing off his gun. The two boys were admiring the teen’s firearm early Wednesday when the gun unintentionally discharged, hitting the 10-year-old in the leg. The boy was taken to the hospital and is in stable condition. A 20-year-old Indiana man unintentionally shot his teenage friend in the face. According to court documents, he jokingly held a gun to his 18-year-old friend’s head and threatened to shoot him if he did not change the music. When he pulled the trigger, the gun went off, killing his friend. The man says he had removed the magazine and thought the gun would not fire.

A man threatened to shoot a group of teens for playing hip-hop. Police say three teenagers were listening to music in an Oregon parking lot when a drunk man approached and asked them to “play some good music.” When the teens refused, the man pulled out a pistol and loaded it, causing the teenagers to flee and call the police, who arrested the man.

ONE LAST THING

Chicago’s violent weekend shows the perniciousness of “murder inequality.” After at least 74 people were shot in the city, 12 of them fatally, from Friday through early Monday, a teary-eyed Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed a press conference. “What happened this weekend didn’t happen in every neighborhood of Chicago, but it is unacceptable to happen in any neighborhood of Chicago.”

As The Trace’s reporting has made clear, Chicago’s violence problem is “a tale of two cities.” Some communities in Chicago can go for years without a fatal shooting. In others, crime rates approach those of some of the world’s most violent countries. Unsurprisingly, the neighborhoods that took the biggest hit in last weekend’s surge are those that suffer the highest ongoing rates of fatal and nonfatal shootings.

The idea that aggregate rates of violent crime hide the disparate harms borne by a few under-served communities is known as “murder inequality.” As the sociologist Daniel Kay Hertz, who coined the term, explained in a 2016 article for The Trace:  “Just like income, education, and other metrics of social advantage, violent gun crime varies even more within American cities than between them.”