Gun Violence in America: The Story of 2018, By the Numbers

The Trace’s data-driven year-end recap explains “13 statistics that tell the story of gun violence in 2018,” including an alarming gap in what’s known about nonfatal injuries and insight into a financially weakened NRA that got outspent in the midterm election cycle.

The last 12 months have presented a wealth of new knowledge and data about guns in America, The Trace reports in its year-end recap of “13 statistics that tell the story of gun violence in 2018.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figured in two of the data points: the 2017 tally of gun deaths showing the highest total in nearly half a century, and a “seriously flawed” CDC method of estimating nonfatal injuries that casts uncertainty on whether the numbers have gone up or down since the early 2000s. A key driver of those death statistics is suicide, a feature of American exceptionalism that produces a third of the people worldwide who die by gun suicide each year in a country with only 4 percent of the world’s population.

Other gun-violence data compiled by The Trace covered public policy and National Rifle Association finances. Before the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in February, only five states had some type of “red flag” laws meant to keep deadly weapons away from volatile people. In the coming months, eight more states passed such laws. Meanwhile, the NRA’s clout as an opponent of tighter gun restrictions shrank, thanks in part to financial troubles that put its 2017 year-end deficit at $31 million. The NRA spent $9.7 million on the midterm elections, one-third of its 2014 midterm tally, while gun violence prevention groups spent $11 million and helped their candidates rack up wins even in red states.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Could Bank Tracking Prevent Some Mass Shootings?

In eight shootings that kiilled 217 people, investigations uncovered a trove of information about the killers’ spending. There were red flags, if only someone were able to look for them, experts say.

Mass shootings set off debates on guns focused on regulating firearms and on troubled youths. Little attention is paid to the financial industry. A New York Times examination of mass shootings shows credit cards have become crucial in the planning. There have been 13 shootings that killed 10 or more people in the last decade. In at least eight, killers financed attacks using credit cards. Those eight shootings killed 217 people. Investigations uncovered a trove of information about the killers’ spending. There were red flags, if only someone were able to look for them, experts say. “Banks will complain this is the government’s job and it’s not our job, but you know what? They are the only ones with the ability to do this,” said Kevin Sullivan, a former New York Police fraud investigator, now president of the Anti-Money Laundering Training Academy.

Banks and credit-card networks say it is not their responsibility to track gun purchases. “We do not believe Visa should be in the position of setting restrictions on the sale of lawful goods or services,” said a spokeswoman. A Mastercard spokesman fagreed, emphasizing protection of “cardholders’ independence” and the “privacy of their own purchasing decisions.”  Before James Holmes killed 12 people and injured 70 others at an Aurora, Co., movie theater in 2012, he used a new Mastercard to help buy more than $11,000 in weapons and military gear. “This was a civilian making these orders, not the police and not the military,” said Sandy Phillips, whose daughter, Jessica, died in the attack. “Someone should have noticed.” Banks are required to report transactions of $10,000 by a single person, even if those transactions are legal. Banks also must file reports for transactions of more than $5,000 that the financial institution “has reason to suspect” are part of a plan to “violate or evade any federal law.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Gun Rights Leader Predicts ‘Civil War’ Over Bump Stock Ban

Don Spencer, Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association president, warns an ATF regulation published Friday mandating the surrender or destruction of bump stocks by March, 2019 raises the “possibility for civil war” by gun owners. The regulation is already facing legal challenges.

Don’t look for a rush to the door of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after this week’s announcement that bump stocks must be surrendered or destroyed, the Tulsa World reports.

The regulation, to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, gives owners of the devices until March 21, 2019, to act. A lawsuit challenging the regulation has been filed, and many gun owners are not interested in turning over anything to the federal government.

“I think the president made the wrong decision,” said Don Spencer, Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association president. “I think it’s something that opens up the possibility for civil war. People are not willing to give up their guns just because it has a certain kind of stock attached to it. This is an attack on Second Amendment rights.”

The new regulation follows a promise from President Trump to review the devices after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017 in which the killer sprayed bullets from above into a crowd of concert-goers, killing 58, wounding 400 and resulting in many more injured in the ensuing panic.

Bump stocks actually are not particularly popular and are seen by most gun owners as a gimmick.In fact, “bump firing” is a technique that can be used with any semi-automatic rifle that is simply made easier using the special stock attachment.

David Reeh of the  Shooting Academy in Tulsa said the devices simply aren’t very safe and added that he doesn’t have a problem with the ban. “I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “If you’re firing one of those you lose too much control. It’s bumping back and forth and if it’s moving that much you’re losing control.”

Some critics note that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has beeen surprisingly “muted” in its approach to the ban.

On Tuesday, NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker expressed mild concern, called the final rule “disappointing” and suggesting the administration should have carved out an “amnesty” for “law-abiding Americans who relied on prior ATF determinations” that the devices were legal to buy, reported Rolling Stone.

The new rule is already facing legal challenges, Rolling Stone added. A lawsuit brought by the Firearms Policy Coalition argues that bump stock owners must be compensated for devices that ATF had previously ruled legal.

“ATF’s abrupt about-face on this issue..smacks of agency abuse or dereliction of duty in following the law,” the suit alleged.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Critic Predicts ‘Civil War’ Over Bump Stock Ban

Don’t look for a rush to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after the announcement that bump stocks must be surrendered or destroyed. The regulation, to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, gives owners of the devices until March 21, 2019, to act.

Don’t look for a rush to the door of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after this week’s announcement that bump stocks must be surrendered or destroyed, the Tulsa World reports. The regulation, to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, gives owners of the devices until March 21, 2019, to act. A lawsuit challenging the regulation has been filed, and many gun owners are not interested in turning over anything to the federal government. “I think the president made the wrong decision,” said Don Spencer, Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association president. “I think it’s something that opens up the possibility for civil war. People are not willing to give up their guns just because it has a certain kind of stock attached to it. This is an attack on Second Amendment rights.” The new regulation follows a promise from President Trump to review the devices after the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October 2017 in which the killer sprayed bullets from above into a crowd of concert-goers, killing 58, wounding 400 and resulting in many more injured in the ensuing panic.

Bump stocks actually are not particularly popular and are seen by most gun owners as a gimmick. In fact, “bump firing” is a technique that can be used with any semi-automatic rifle that is simply made easier using the special stock attachment. David Reeh of the  Shooting Academy in Tulsa said the devices simply aren’t very safe and added that he doesn’t have a problem with the ban. “I think it’s a good idea,” he said. “If you’re firing one of those you lose too much control. It’s bumping back and forth and if it’s moving that much you’re losing control.”

from https://thecrimereport.org

Brady Center Suing U.S. Over Allowing 3-D Gun Blueprints

The gun violence prevention group Brady Center is suing the Trump administration over its decision to allow blueprints for 3-D guns to be uploaded and shared online. The organization wants the Department of State to show documents explaining why it cleared the distribution of blueprints to create 3-D guns.

The gun violence prevention group Brady Center is suing the Trump administration over its decision to allow blueprints for 3-D guns to be uploaded and shared online, reports USA Today. The organization said it wants the Department of State to show documents explaining why it cleared the distribution of blueprints to create 3-D guns. The center says the Department of State has not presented any documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed more than five months ago. “The Trump Administration must explain to the public why it chose to reverse longstanding State Department policy opposing publication of blueprints, and decide to allow terrorists and other dangerous people to make undetectable, untraceable guns with 3-D printers in complete anonymity,” said Brady president Kris Brown.

In July, the Department of State settled a lawsuit with Defense Distributed that would allow the Texas-based non-profit organization to offer 3-D gun blueprints online. The settlement prompted a lawsuit by 19 states and the District of Columbia seeking a permanent ban on distributing blueprints. In August, a federal judge ruled the president or Congress should make the decision on their approval.  If approved, the blueprints would allow anyone with the correct equipment and materials to 3-D-print a gun. The Brady Center and other critics of 3-D guns say they can’t be traced, and don’t require a background check to obtain.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Can Doctors Prevent Firearm Suicides by the Elderly?

Physicians should routinely check whether older patients suffering from dementia and related illnesses have access to guns, says an expert in geriatrics.

Doctors should make gun safety a “routine” part of their health care for older adults suffering from dementia and related illnesses, according to an expert in geriatrics.

Writing in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, Katherine Galluzzi, a geriatrics professor at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, warned that the lack of regulations allowing the removal of firearms from vulnerable populations has made gun-related suicides a persistent threat to the elderly.

“Until those laws are enacted, the responsibility to address gun safety in this at-risk population of older adults must fall to their physicians,” Galluzzi and co-author Ilene Warner-Maron wrote.

“Thus, discussions regarding gun safety must be viewed by physicians as a routine part of health care for vulnerable populations.”

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  older adults commit suicide at a disproportionately higher rate compared to the general population. Men aged 65 and over are more likely to commit suicide than Americans of all other age groups, and three-quarters of them use a gun.

The researchers noted that the absence of a clear legal framework for removing access to firearms owned by older adults with dementia, disability, or psychiatric illness adds to the danger.

They recommended that physicians use a screening tool such as the proposed gun safety checklist for clinicians on a daily basis for at-risk patients. The checklist assesses for “red flags” and gun ownership.

Tara Sklar, a health law professor at the University of Arizona, proposed using “red flag” laws as a solution to suicide among older adults. Also known as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, these laws allow law enforcement and, in eight states, family or household members to file a petition for a court order to temporarily remove a person’s access to guns when they show “red flags” in exhibiting dangerous behavior.

More than 30 states have introduced or plan to introduce red flag laws, This year, a study found red flag laws in Connecticut and Indiana have helped prevent gun-involved suicides among older adults. The authors specifically found a nearly 14 percent reduction in suicides with a gun in Connecticut since 2007.

The full report of the current article can be found here.

J. Gabriel Ware is a contributing writer for The Crime Report

from https://thecrimereport.org

Trump Administration Moves to Ban Bump Stocks

The devices came under scrutiny when they were used by the gunman who killed 58 concertgoers last year in Las Vegas. Gun Owners of America vows to challenge the ban in a lawsuit.

The Trump administration is banning bump stocks, the attachment that allows a semiautomatic weapon to shoot almost as fast as a machine gun, NPR reports. The devices, also known as slide fires, came under scrutiny after they were used by the gunman who opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas last year, killing 58 people. The massacre touched off a public outcry for the accessories to be banned. Under a new federal rule announced Tuesday by the Justice Department, bump stocks will be redefined as “machine guns” and outlawed under existing law.
The new regulations, signed by acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, will take effect 90 days after being published in the Federal Register.

Current bump stock owners will have the 90 days before the new rule takes effect to either destroy the devices they own or turn them in to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Justice Department officials don’t know how many bump stocks are privately owned, but they estimate the number in the tens of thousands. The move met with mixed reactions from gun rights groups. The National Rifle Association said it was “disappointed” that the new rule doesn’t include an amnesty, which would have allowed people who bought the attachments when they were still considered legal to keep them. Gun Owners of America  promised a lawsuit, calling the administration’s move “arbitrary,” and an unacceptable reinterpretation of the federal laws against machine guns. The group  has said banning bump stock attachments could lead to the banning of semi-automatic rifles.

from https://thecrimereport.org

House Democrats to Push Gun-Research Legislation

House Democrats are planning to vote next year on bills that address gun violence as a public health concern. Legislation to fund more research on gun injuries and death faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Senate.

House Democrats are planning to vote next year on bills that address gun violence as a public health concern, The Hill reports. The move will mark the party’s first steps back into a divisive debate after being in the minority for eight years. Energized by their midterm victories and a focus on gunshot victims highlighted by a growing chorus of medical professionals, Democrats will push for legislation to fund research on gun injuries and deaths. Making gun violence a public health issue is seen as unlikely to cause divisions between liberal and centrist Democrats, some of whom are wary about moving too far to the left ahead of their 2020 reelection bids. Democratic leaders will have to tamp down expectations for achieving their gun-related legislative goals because their bills will be landing in a GOP-led Senate.

Most legislation around gun violence was off the table for eight years of Republican rule in the House, as GOP leaders sided with the powerful gun lobby against any new firearm restrictions, including federal funding for research. Now, Democrats are united around making gun violence about public health, with some looking toward background checks as well. “We have an opportunity to pass background checks for every firearm purchase,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), who is considering a 2020 presidential bid. “We have an opportunity to finally study gun violence in America to see what we can do.” As mass shootings have become more common, public opinion has evolved. Many newly elected Democrats from conservative districts embraced new restrictions on gun purchases while on the campaign trail without facing the previously feared backlash on Election Day. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA) backs universal background checks, and Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL), a member of the moderate Blue Dog Coalition, co-sponsored universal background check legislation this year.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Butina Plea Focuses Attention on NRA Role

Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina pleaded guilty to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Russia, admitting she worked for more than two years to forge relationships with conservative activists and leading U.S. Republicans. The National Rifle Association was one of her leading targets.

Russian gun rights activist Maria Butina pleaded guilty in Washington, D.C., to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of Russia, admitting she worked for more than two years to forge relationships with conservative activists and leading Republicans in the U.S., the Washington Post reports. The plea thrust the National Rifle Association into an uncomfortable spotlight as it appears to be facing declining donations and signs its political influence may be waning. The NRA was a principal Butina target. In 2015, she said it “had influence over” the Republican Party. Her relationships with the group, she wrote in a memo, could be used as the groundwork for an unofficial channel of communication to the next presidential administration.

Butina and Alexander Torshin, a former Russian government official who helped direct her activities, used their NRA connections to get access to GOP presidential candidates, according. The case showed how Russia saw the NRA as a key pathway to influencing U.S. politics to the Kremlin’s benefit. It has intensified questions about what the gun rights group knew of the Russian effort to shape U.S. policy and whether it faces ongoing legal scrutiny. The 30-year-old — the first Russian national convicted of seeking to influence U.S. policy as a foreign agent before the 2016 election — agreed to cooperate with U.S. investigators in exchange for less prison time. “Who at the NRA knew Butina’s agenda, and what did they get in return?” asked Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Or.). Wyden, who has sought to learn more about the NRA’s Russia ties as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said the NRA has turned over documents related to Butina but has not provided financial records he has requested. NRA officials have repeatedly refused to answer questions about Butina or its interactions with Russian activists.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Split Federal Panel Upholds NJ Ammunition Limit

A law passed this year limits most gun owners to magazines that hold 10 rounds of ammunition instead of the 15-round limit in place since 1990. The court majority said the law balances the state’s interest in public safety with the rights of individuals to defend their homes.

A split U.S. appeals court panel upheld a New Jersey law that limits the amount of ammunition a single gun magazine can hold, the Associated Press reports. A law passed this year limits most gun owners to magazines that hold 10 rounds of ammunition instead of the 15-round limit in place since 1990. U.S. Circuit Judge Patty Shwartz wrote that the law balances the state’s interest in public safety with the rights of individuals to defend their homes. The 2-1 ruling denied a motion by a gun-rights group for a temporary injunction to stop the law from taking effect. New Jersey officials hope the ban on large capacity magazines could thwart mass shooters if they have to stop to reload. About seven other states, the District of Columbia and several cities have similar limits.

Shwartz said National Rifle Association affiliates challenging the law downplayed “the significant increase in the frequency and lethality” of mass shootings and active shooter situations. She said the state effort doesn’t violate the Second Amendment because “it imposes no limit on the number of firearms or magazines or amount of ammunition a person may lawfully possess.” Judge Stephanos Bibas, in dissent, pointed to that fact in questioning evidence the law will reduce gun violence. The law is one of six gun control measures signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in June. New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, called the ruling “a big win for public safety and law enforcement safety.” The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, which vowed to appeal, attacked the ruling as “plainly wrong,” and said it was “turning one million honest citizens into felons” for taking steps to defend their homes.

from https://thecrimereport.org