3-D Gun Maker Accused of Sex Assault, Leaves U.S.

Cody Wilson, a Texas man who got national attention for his push to make blueprints for 3-D-printed guns publicly available on the internet, has been charged with sexually assaulting an underage girl. Authorities are trying to bring him back from Taiwan.

Cody Wilson, a Texas man who got national attention for his push to make blueprints for 3-D-printed guns publicly available on the internet, has been charged with sexually assaulting an underage girl, the Texas Tribune reports. An arrest affidavit in Austin said Wilson, 30, had sex with a girl under the age of 17 and paid her $500. Wilson was reported to be in Taiwan. The girl told authorities she created an account on SugarDaddyMeet.com and began talking to a man who used the screen name “Sanjuro.” “Sanjuro” eventually identified himself as “Cody Wilson” and told the girl he was a “big deal.”

Officers said Wilson left the U.S. before police could schedule an interview with him and then missed a scheduled flight back. Authorities are working with international law enforcement agencies to bring him in to custody. Wilson is the founder and director of Defense Distributed, a nonprofit that publishes open-source gun designs. He made national headlines when he announced plans to publish gun blueprints on Defense Distributed’s website. Attorneys general from 19 states filed a lawsuit to block that from happening, saying 3-D-printed guns are dangerous because they are hard to detect. A federal judge blocked Wilson from publishing the blueprints online. He then said he would mail blueprints to customers using flash drives.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Gun Violence Restraining Orders Rarely Used in CA

In 2016, California became the first state to allow judges to block individuals believed to be dangerous from having firearms for up to a year. The law has been invoked fewer than 200 times in two years.

Two weeks after a gunman in Parkland, Fl., killed 17 people in his former high school, a Beverly Hills, Ca. high school employee dialed 911 to report a stranger mumbling to himself and following her as she left campus. Police confiscated a loaded handgun in the man’s glove box and arrested him. Officers tried something they’d never done before and persuaded a judge to bar the man temporarily from having guns, the Los Angeles Times reports. It was a successful use of a legal tool that proponents believe will help reduce gun violence as more members of the public and law enforcement learn about it. In 2016, California became the first state to allow family members, roommates and police officers to ask a judge to block individuals believed to be dangerous from having firearms for up to a year. The legislation was prompted by a 2014 mass shooting in Isla Vista, Ca. Relatives of gunman Elliot Rodger had alerted authorities to his potential danger.

The gun violence restraining orders have been rarely used. Fewer than 200 were issued across the state during the law’s first two years on the books. Gun rights advocates say there are other ways to flag unstable individuals to the police and argue the law violates the Second Amendment and due process rights. With so few orders issued, supporters recognize an urgency to promote the law if it is to have a wide-scale effect. Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who held a news conference in 2016 touting the measure as a life-saving tool and vowing to fight for its success, acknowledged the low numbers. His office has led two educational sessions about the tool and helped with a website that offers instructions on how to obtain a restraining order.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Gun-Control Group Backing Candidates in Four States

The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is spending up to $10 million to back candidates in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. The group’s president, John Feinblatt, says it is moving beyond blue states to promote gun safety.

The Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund is spending millions to support candidates in four states, indicating that gun control is shaping up to be an issue in the November elections, the Washington Post reports. The political arm of the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety plans to spend up to $10 million in Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. It will include contributions to candidates, as well as independent expenditures such as mail, television, radio and digital ads. “This is not a movement of blue states. This is a movement of Americans,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “The old third-rail warnings are out the window and you can … work on gun safety virtually anywhere in this country.” He called the initial sum is a “curtain raiser” on what will come between now and the election.

In Georgia, the group is backing Democrat Stacey Abrams’s gubernatorial race. Abrams has called for universal background checks for firearms sales and repealing a state law that allows permit holders to carry guns on college campuses. The group is also working to elect Lucy McBath in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Her 17-year-old son, Jordan Davis, was fatally shot in 2012 in a dispute about loud music in Jacksonville, Fl. In Michigan, it supports Democrat Gretchen Whitmer for governor and Democrat Dana Nessel for attorney general. Nevada, it is attempting to defeat Republican Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who is running for governor. Laxalt opposed a 2016 ballot initiative approved by voters that expanded background checks. The group is backing Democrat Steve Sisolak. In New Mexico, Everytown’s action fund is backing the gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Health Workers, Gun Industry Partner on Anti-Suicide Drive

Gun dealers, range owners and firearms instructors have found that suicide prevention fits into their mission to promote the safe use of guns. Hundreds around the U.S. share suicide-prevention literature, emphasize prevention techniques in concealed-carry classes, teach workers to recognize distress among customers and welcome prevention advocates to firearm trade shows.

A 2014 suicide at a Utah gun range led the three co-owners to join a growing movement that aims to reduce gun suicides by spreading prevention techniques among firearm owners and sellers. It’s an effort that is slowly sweeping through gun country ─ states with high rates of firearm ownership, like Utah, that have shouldered a disproportionate weight of America’s rise in suicides, NBC News reports. The effort has brought together longtime adversaries: the medical community, which sees guns as a public health threat, and the firearms industry, which distrusts most efforts to restrict access to guns. Gun dealers, range owners and firearms instructors have found that suicide prevention fits into their mission to promote the safe use of guns. Hundreds around the U.S. share suicide-prevention literature, emphasize prevention techniques in concealed-carry classes, teach workers to recognize distress among customers and welcome prevention advocates to firearm trade shows.

The partnership has unfolded quietly, in contrast to the public divisiveness that characterizes the debate over gun violence. It originated from mental health researchers and advocates, who see curbing firearm suicides ─ which make up more than half of all U.S. suicides, nearly 23,000 in 2016 ─ as integral to reducing the number of firearm deaths. “This is a new way to go about reducing suicidal persons’ access to guns ─ not by promoting an anti-gun agenda but by asking gun owners to be part of the solution,” said Catherine Barber, who directs the Means Matter Campaign to prevent suicide at the Harvard School of Public Health’s Injury Control Research Center. “Vilifying them isn’t going to work.” The public-health emphasis on gun suicides is driven in part by statistics showing that they are far more prevalent than homicides committed with a firearm.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Panel Won’t Back Change in Gun-Sales Law

The school safety commission established by President Trump after the Parkland, Fl., high school shooting will not recommend new age restrictions for the purchase of firearms. The president briefly supported raising the minimum age to buy a firearm but then backtracked.

The school safety commission established by President Trump after the Parkland, Fl., high school shooting will not recommend new age restrictions for the purchase of firearms, reports the Washington Post. The commission concluded there is no evidence that age restrictions reduce the likelihood of school shootings and instead will recommend that states increase safety training for gun owners. The findings are expected to be included in a report by the Federal Commission on School Safety. The commission is headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, though the section about gun restrictions was handled by the Justice Department.

The commission was the White House’s effort to show it was responding to the national outrage over Parkland. At one point, Trump himself suggested he would take on the National Rifle Association and might back new age limits. He quickly reversed course and, six months later, his commission is echoing the mainstream Republican view that no new laws are needed. The Trump panel was controversial  because it excluded most proposals for expanded gun restrictions. Rather, its mandate centered on areas such as mental health, youth consumption of violent entertainment and media coverage of mass shootings. It also looked at arming school personnel to bolster security. The White House directed the commission to consider one possible gun restriction: whether age limits should be raised for firearm purchases. Such a policy would require congressional action. Under federal law, a licensed dealer cannot sell a handgun to anyone under 21, and cannot sell a long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun, to anyone under 18. Some states have more restrictive rules. After the Parkland shooting, Florida raised the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Panel Won’t Back Change in Gun-Sales Law

The school safety commission established by President Trump after the Parkland, Fl., high school shooting will not recommend new age restrictions for the purchase of firearms. The president briefly supported raising the minimum age to buy a firearm but then backtracked.

The school safety commission established by President Trump after the Parkland, Fl., high school shooting will not recommend new age restrictions for the purchase of firearms, reports the Washington Post. The commission concluded there is no evidence that age restrictions reduce the likelihood of school shootings and instead will recommend that states increase safety training for gun owners. The findings are expected to be included in a report by the Federal Commission on School Safety. The commission is headed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, though the section about gun restrictions was handled by the Justice Department.

The commission was the White House’s effort to show it was responding to the national outrage over Parkland. At one point, Trump himself suggested he would take on the National Rifle Association and might back new age limits. He quickly reversed course and, six months later, his commission is echoing the mainstream Republican view that no new laws are needed. The Trump panel was controversial  because it excluded most proposals for expanded gun restrictions. Rather, its mandate centered on areas such as mental health, youth consumption of violent entertainment and media coverage of mass shootings. It also looked at arming school personnel to bolster security. The White House directed the commission to consider one possible gun restriction: whether age limits should be raised for firearm purchases. Such a policy would require congressional action. Under federal law, a licensed dealer cannot sell a handgun to anyone under 21, and cannot sell a long gun, such as a rifle or shotgun, to anyone under 18. Some states have more restrictive rules. After the Parkland shooting, Florida raised the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Gun Use in Self-Defense is Minimal, Study Says

The Violence Policy Center said a review of federal data showed said that in 2015 there were only 265 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the FBI. That same year, there were 9,027 criminal firearm homicides around the nation.

Private citizens rarely use guns to kill criminals or stop crimes, contends a new study from the Violence Policy Center, an advocacy group. The center cites recent federal data showing that private citizens use guns to harm themselves or others far more often than to kill in self-defense. The study said that in 2015 there were only 265 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the FBI. Seventeen states reported zero justifiable homicides in 2015. That year, there were 9,027 criminal firearm homicides.

In 2015, for every justifiable homicide in the U.S. involving a gun, guns were used in 34 criminal homicides. This ratio does not even take into account the tens of thousands of lives lost in gun suicides and unintentional shootings that year. The study found that only a tiny fraction of the intended victims of violent crime or property crime employed guns for self-defense. From 2014 to 2016, only 1.1 percent of victims of attempted or completed violent crimes used a firearm, and only 0.3 percent of victims of attempted or completed property crimes used a firearm. “The myth of the self-defense gun lives on in firearms industry ads, NRA dogma, and self-serving political rhetoric. The reality is that guns don’t save lives, they end them,” said the center’s director, Josh Sugarmann.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Semiautomatic Rifles Bring Higher Death Risk

Although 44 percent of people wounded in active shooter incidents died of their injuries, more people were wounded and killed in incidents where semiautomatic rifles were used compared with incidents involving other firearms, a newly published study says.

While semiautomatic rifles killed fewer people in U.S. mass shootings than handguns or rifles in the last 17 years, a new study shows they bring a higher risk of injury or death in those shootings, reports Courthouse News Service. Researchers at Harvard University compared the number of people wounded and killed by semiautomatic weapons between 2000 and 2017 with the number of people killed where a semiautomatic weapon was not used. The study found semiautomatic weapons were used in about 25 percent of the 248 active shooter incidents; the remaining 75 percent of incidents involved handguns, shotguns or rifles, according to the study. In those shootings, 898 people were wounded and 718 were killed.

Sales of semiautomatic rifles, which fire a round each time a shooter pulls the trigger and reloads after each shot, were banned in 1994. Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004. Although 44 percent of people wounded in active shooter incidents died of their injuries, more people were wounded and killed in incidents where semiautomatic rifles were used compared with incidents involving other firearms. The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

from https://thecrimereport.org

California Enacts New Curbs on Ammunition Sales

In many areas, ammunition is easier to buy than cold medicine. California has gone farther than most states in regarding gun violence as a “bullet control” problem.

Ammunition, which is sold from vending machines in Pennsylvania, feed depots in Nevada, pharmacies in Georgia and jewelry stores in Texas, may be easier to buy than cold medicine. In California, which already enforces some of the nation’s most restrictive gun laws, there is a movement underway against the unfettered sale of bullets, the New York Times reports. Gun control advocates have pushed to limit internet sales, ban large-capacity magazines, require sellers to have licenses, raise taxes on bullets, and mandate serial numbers or other traceable markings on ammunition. Such regulations, several of which take effect this year and next, are inspired by the view that the best way to limit gun violence is to approach it as a “bullet control” problem.

In general, bullets remain subject to far fewer federal restrictions than the weapons that fire them. Purchasing ammunition typically requires no form of identification, is handed over with no questions asked and usually can be ordered online and delivered to doorsteps. Gun dealers must keep detailed sales records of firearms and generally have to be licensed. In Sacramento and Los Angeles, elected officials long ago passed local laws requiring ammunition dealers to keep detailed logs of sales. Detectives comb through lists of people who have recently bought bullets, looking for anyone who is prohibited from owning firearms or ammunition. In recent years, these records have led to the seizure of hundreds of illegal guns and to the arrests of dozens of gang members, parolees, registered sex offenders and others. Beginning next year, ammunition dealers across the state will be required to maintain logs of all sales. The efforts come as Congress declines to pass major gun control measures, despite a groundswell from students after massacres on high school and college campuses.

from https://thecrimereport.org

NY Says It’s Not Violating NRA’s Freedom of Speech

A federal judge on Monday will consider the National Rifle Association’s complaint that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying too bankrupt the organization by urging banks and regulators not to deal with the NRA because of widespread gun violence.

Fending off claims that it tried to bankrupt the National Rifle Association, New York state attorneys are asking a federal judge Monday to dismiss the gun lobby’s free-speech suit, reports Courthouse News Service. The NRA accuses the state agency that regulates New York’s banks and insurers of using selective enforcement to harm the NRA’s longstanding corporate relationships. “Defendants’ abuses will imminently deprive the NRA of basic bank-depository services, corporate insurance coverage, and other financial services essential to the NRA’s corporate existence and its advocacy mission,” the gun lobby says.

New York says its use of enforcement actions to punish violations “do not … implicate the NRA’s First Amendment rights.” The state argues that guidance letters it sends to banks and insurers qualify as protected government speech. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Texas Public Policy Foundation, groups on opposite ends of the constitutional rights spectrum, both urged Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas McAvoy in amicus briefs to advance the NRA’s case. The Texas foundation stated bluntly in its brief: “The government may not bully its citizens into not doing business with organizations with whom it disagrees politically.” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Maria Vullo, who heads the state’s Department of Financial Services, urged banks and insurers to weigh their “reputational risk” in doing business with the NRA and similar groups. The guidance letter pointed to “several recent horrific shootings” at schools, clubs and music festivals nationwide. The NRA complaint alleges a “political vendetta” by Cuomo, calling the governor “a political opportunist who has consistently sought to gain political capital by attacking the NRA.”

from https://thecrimereport.org