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News and notes on guns in America

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Daily Bulletin: Bill Requiring Social Media Review for Gun Permit Applicants Has a Conspicuous Omission

Good morning, Bulletin readers. A police department takes immediate action in response to the latest installment of our investigation into the link between gun theft and violent crime. A New York bill that would require authorities to review the social media accounts of pistol permit applicants has a conspicuous omission. And a Florida sheriff has a change of heart about arming teachers. Those stories and more, below.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: After we inquired about its gun storage policy, the Atlanta Police Department said it would sanction officers who leave guns in unattended cars. Police Chief Erika Shields said last month that cops who violate the department’s gun storage policy could be hit with a three-day suspension and a $500 fine. The announcement came after The Trace asked the department about its gun storage policy as part of our investigation into missing police weapons, which found that nearly 1,800 guns were reported lost or stolen from more than 100 law enforcement agencies in the last decade. In 2016, Brian Freskos reported that more guns were stolen from cars and trucks in Atlanta than in any other major city he surveyed. Read more about this latest impact from his series here.

Under a proposed bill, authorities in New York would investigate social media accounts like Instagram and Snapchat before granting pistol permits — but not Gab. The proposal, filed by State Senator Kevin Parker on November 14, omits sites that attract extremists, like Gab, which the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter used to vent his anti-Semitic hatred. The bill also requires a review of an applicant’s internet search engine history, but limits that to Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Prosecutors in Washington want the state’s “red flag” law to apply to minors. The law, approved by Washington state voters in 2016, doesn’t say whether extreme risk protection orders apply to children and young teens, and a legislative task force asked state lawmakers for clarification earlier this month. If the law does apply to juveniles, parents and guardians of kids served with one would be required to prove to police that their guns are inaccessible to children.

A Florida sheriff serving on the Parkland shooting commission now supports arming teachers. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who opposed giving guns to civilian staffers after the February massacre, now says one or two school resource officers in each school isn’t enough to keep students safe. Gualtieri said his change of heart came after he learned that the Parkland gunman paused to reload five times — moments he says could have been used by staffers to neutralize the shooter, had they been armed.

California gun owners are stockpiling ammunition before background checks for bullet sales begin in July. The sales director of a San Diego gun range says it sold 600,000 rounds of ammo on Black Friday and credits the impending regulations with driving sales. Starting in July, ammunition sales will require a background check, and purchases will be logged in a database and sent to the Department of Justice.

A Missouri man charged with fatally shooting a woman in a Catholic supply store railed against gun control on social media. A week before Thomas Bruce was arrested for raping two women at gunpoint and killing a third woman, he wrote in a social media post obtained by USA Today: “We should stop expecting criminals to follow the rules. I’m hoping we end gun-free zones and put the criminals on notice that they will be stopped.” Bruce, an avowed Trump supporter who served in the Navy in the 1980s, had no prior criminal record.

ONE LAST THING

Six months after she was wounded in a school shooting, an Indiana teen got to be an NFL cheerleader for a day. Ella Whistler was shot seven times by a fellow student during science class at Noblesville West Middle School on May 25, and endured a six-hour surgery afterward. On Sunday, she sang the national anthem at the Indianapolis Colts game along with the school choir, and performed at halftime with the Colts’ cheerleading squad, which made her its honorary captain for the day. Though her recovery has been difficult — she may never regain the full use of her right arm — Whistler prefers to see the bright side: “I get to do a lot of different things now because of this, and I think it’s really cool to have this experience.”