Hello, readers. We have a pair of new stories from Trace staffers and contributors to share with you today: First, Alex Yablon brings us the latest development in the long campaign to impose state oversight on gun dealers in Illinois, where a few stores sell disproportionate shares of Chicago crime guns. Plus, watch gunshot survivors share their poems about recovery in a new video.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
New from The Trace: Illinois lawmakers force new showdown over gun stores. In quick succession this week, the Illinois House and Senate approved the Firearm Dealer License Certification Act, which would tighten regulations on gun stores in the state. Two months ago, Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a similar measure. The margin for the new House vote puts supporters close to a veto-proof majority this time around. It’s one of two gun-violence-prevention bills headed to Rauner’s desk: Illinois lawmakers have also passed a red-flag bill that would allow courts to temporarily confiscate guns from people who have made violent threats. A third measure, imposing a three-day waiting period on all gun purchases, has also cleared the House. The Illinois Legislature adjourns its regular 2018 session today.
The governor of Texas unveiled his plan to prevent school violence. Presenting the plan yesterday, Republican Greg Abbott touched on its few modest gun safety proposals, including tightening child-access prevention laws, improving mental health reporting for background checks, and mandating reporting of lost or stolen guns. Abbott is also asking the state to study a narrow red flag law, in which gun owners who may be at risk of violence could only be disarmed after a hearing. Most of the blueprint’s 40 planks, outlined here, focused on increased school security. They include lifting limits on the number of armed marshals that can be appointed to individual schools; more funding for the programs that train marshals; and a move to change when marshals can carry their guns. Under current law, marshals must stow their firearms when interacting with students. Abbott’s plan would scrap that requirement.
In California, a city attorney wants law enforcement to take better advantage of the state’s red flag law. As more states pass laws to temporarily disarm potentially dangerous people, Sacramento is beginning a new effort to put theirs to use. “I think we all recognize that there are some people that should not have a gun or access to a gun,” says City Attorney Mara Elliott, who is training law enforcement on the state’s two-year-old gun-violence restraining order law. In March, we reported on San Diego’s efforts to seek gun violence restraining orders more assertively.
Nine students attending Baltimore City schools have been shot and killed since last school year. School officials, classmates, and families gathered on Wednesday at a “Peace and Remembrance Day” to honor the young people lost to gun violence who would not be finishing this academic year. Three of the students were from Excel Academy, an alternative high school. Last year, Excel’s principal spoke with The Trace: “I’ve never experienced a year where I had four funerals in six months,” she said after losing a string of students to shootings. “And at my school, when there is a loss, it’s usually due to gun violence.”
The Baltimore County Council is considering a proposal to keep guns out of teenage hands. It’s currently a misdemeanor in Maryland to leave a firearm where a child under 16 could access it. Council members want to raise that age to 18 locally.
Students at an Indiana middle school rocked by a school shooting last Friday were welcomed back to class with chalk messages of support. Noblesville West students returned to campus yesterday for the first time since a 13-year-old boy opened fire in a science classroom last week. School officials say the 13-year-old girl who was wounded during the shooting is still in the hospital, but making progress in her recovery.
The latest reminder of the threat domestic violence calls pose for law enforcement. Police say a man in Spokane, Washington, violated his domestic violence protection order when he showed up at a home with a gun. When he refused to surrender, a SWAT team was called to the scene. After an hour-long standoff, the man was taken into custody. From The Trace archives: In 2016, a 27-year police veteran shared with us a firsthand account of what it’s like to respond to a domestic violence incident.
A 12-year-old in Washington State died after she was unintentionally shot during a target practice. Police say the girl was target shooting on Monday afternoon with a family friend. As she was walking to check her target, the friend accidentally discharged a gun, which he was attempting to secure. The bullet hit the girl in the head. She was pronounced dead on Tuesday morning.
ONE LAST THING
Six gunshot survivors share their stories of recovery, in verse. At a New York City art gallery last week, six men — all paralyzed by gun violence — performed poetry and spoken word from their wheelchairs. “We all have something inside from all that pain that we went through that stays there,” said one of the performers. Trace contributor Eric Fernandez was there to capture their stories of grief, pain, and resilience on video. Watch it here.