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FEBRUARY 6, 2020


Good morning, Bulletin readers. In the latest salvo between the NRA and New York officials, the state has charged the gun group with using its insurance products to deceptively cash in on members. More on that as your Thursday briefing continues below. —Jennifer Mascia, engagement writer




NEW from THE TRACE: The NRA faces millions in potential fines. New York regulators have brought civil charges against the gun group for illegally selling insurance products and deceptively marketing those products to its members. The Trace was the first to report on one of those insurance offerings, Carry Guard, which provided potential reimbursement for legal costs incurred by gun owners after shooting another person while claiming self-defense. But New York’s Department of Financial Services found other problems: The NRA pitched its insurance products as having been designed to ensure members got the best deal possible, when as much as 22 percent of the premiums went to the group. This latest legal blow to the NRA could carry fines of up to $42 million. Will Van Sant has the story.

Six months after the Dayton shooting, Ohio lawmakers are still divided on legislative remedies. In the aftermath of the August gun rampage, Republican Governor Mike DeWine introduced a 17-point plan for reducing gun violence. He later pared down his proposals — but even the more modest package is encountering resistance from lawmakers in his own party, the Dayton Daily News reports. On Wednesday, DeWine again urged lawmakers to pass the measures, which include increasing penalties for certain gun crimes and voluntary background checks on private gun sales. Democratic Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley is decrying the lack of action: “That’s been really painful for me, someone who believes in our democracy, to see it be so ineffective,” she told local outlet WDTN.

Suspected neo-Nazi pleads guilty to drug and gun charges. Aiden Bruce-Umbaugh, alleged member of the Atomwaffen Division, was arrested at a traffic stop in Texas last November. He pleaded guilty this week to smoking marijuana while owning guns, a violation of federal law, and faces up to 10 years in prison. “Bruce-Umbaugh’s case is yet another example of how federal prosecutors, in the absence of a domestic terror statute, have to stress the potential dangerousness of a neo-Nazi defendant, even if they’ve only been arrested for minor crimes,” writes Vice’s Tess Owen. Bruce-Umbaugh’s passenger, Kaleb Cole, believed to head the group’s Washington state chapter, was disarmed under that state’s red flag law in October. He was later charged with violating his extreme risk protection order by possessing a firearm.

Red flag bills stall in Republican strongholds. GOP-sponsored emergency risk protection order legislation was defeated by a state Senate committee in South Dakota on Tuesday. And Utah state Representative Steve Handy said he’s withdrawing his own measure amid resistance from other Republicans. “At this point they’re getting a lot of pushback from gun rights folks and that makes them nervous,” he told Desert News. Thirteen states are currently weighing similar bills.

Washington lawmaker wants to ban guns at the state Capitol. State Representative Tana Senn filed the bill following an armed protest by gun activists last week. Senn said the demonstration created an “unsafe work environment.” A spokesperson for Governor Jay Inslee says his office has been considering new gun restrictions for the Capitol grounds.

Pennsylvania governor presses for action on gun violence. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, used his annual budget speech to step up his calls for universal background checks, a red flag law, and requiring gun owners to report lost and stolen guns. “It was unusual for a governor to devote a lengthy section of the address to a single policy issue,” the Associated Press noted. The GOP-controlled legislature hasn’t embraced his proposals.

San Diego used California’s red flag law to remove guns from 200 people last year. City Attorney Mara Elliott said it represents a twofold increase over 2018. Go deeper:  The Trace has reported that San Diego County is issuing more gun violence restraining orders than any other in the state due in large part to Elliot’s efforts.

Alabama judge rejects “stand your ground” defense from woman who fatally shot her alleged rapist. Brittany Smith will now stand trial for murder over the 2018 incident and faces life in prison if convicted. The case highlights the difficulty faced by many women who strike against an abuser, as courts frequently discount evidence of abuse when weighing their fates, The New Yorker reported last month.




Amid the prospect of gun reform legislation passing the Virginia legislature, gun background checks in the state last month were up 80 percent over January 2019, indicating a sharp spike in firearm sales. [Federal Bureau of Investigation]



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The Daily Bulletin is compiled by Jennifer Mascia.

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