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When video of the racist massacre at a Tops supermarket in Buffalo, New York, made its way to the anonymous imageboard 4chan, most commenters on the site’s “politically incorrect” board reacted with agitations for more violence; appreciation for the shooter’s manifesto, wherein he credited 4chan for his radicalization into a violent white supremacist; and declarations that the shooting was a “false flag” operation. One user, however, publicly blamed the website for enabling the killings; the comment was quickly deleted, and resulted in a ban on the user’s account for violating 4chan’s rule against “complaining about 4chan.”

In theory, 4chan’s moderation decisions are guided by 17 rules, which include bans on content that violates U.S. law and, except on one board, racism. In practice, however, moderators are free to make arbitrary decisions, and foster a website where hateful vitriol and calls for violence are the norm. Internal documents obtained by WIRED detail how decisions are made within the site’s team of moderators — and, as writer Justin Ling puts it, depict “the degree to which 4chan’s toxic influence is a design, not a bug.” Read WIRED’s investigation →

What to Know Today

Reminder: The Trace’s reporters and editors compiled a list of 25 books that shaped our understanding of American gun violence. Did we leave out one you think is important? Send us your suggestion, and we’ll consider including it in an upcoming edition of the Bulletin. Share your recommendation →

Hawaii has new gun regulations on the books: Governor Josh Green signed legislation — passed in response to Bruen — easing concealed carry permitting requirements and, at the same time, prohibiting people from carrying guns in a wide array of places, including beaches. [Associated Press] Context: Hawaii has long had some of the strictest gun safety measures in the country. 

Following recent mass shootings that targeted children, an Atlanta-area gun store owner decided to close his business because he worried any weapon he sold could end up in the wrong hands. “If it can happen,” he said, “it’s only a matter of time until it does happen.” [NBC]

Republican members of the Ohio House are backing a bill to exempt guns and ammunition from sales taxes and offer firearm manufacturers a tax credit. A House Democrat introduced a similar bill that would exempt gun safety products from sales taxes. [The New Republic/Ohio Capital Journal]

A police officer in Indianola, Mississippi, shot and wounded an 11-year-old boy after the child called 911 for help late last month. Now, the child’s mother is seeking $5 million in damages, on behalf of herself and her son, for violating the boy’s Fourth Amendment right to be “free from excessive force,” among other allegations. [VICE]

Stewart Rhodes, the founder and leader of the Oath Keepers militia, called himself “a political prisoner” during the sentencing hearing for his seditious conspiracy conviction, handed down over his role in the Capitol insurrection. Republican presidential candidates appear to agree. [The Intercept]

Amid the effort to get the Tennessee Legislature to pass gun safety legislation earlier this year, GOP Governor Bill Lee’s administration accused the NRA of wanting to use involuntary commitment laws “to round up mentally ill people and deprive them of other liberties,” according to memos drafted by staffers and obtained via public records request. [Associated Press]

The assumption that most firearm owners are responsible stewards of their weapons often guides the gun lobby’s arguments for a broad reading of the Second Amendment. But while there are plenty of conscientious gun owners, a shocking number don’t have adequate training, fail to report stolen weapons, and leave their arms unsecured. [Washington Monthly]

Colorado’s ghost gun ban went into effect last week; manufacturing, possessing, and selling unserialized firearms in the state is now a Class 1 misdemeanor. Meanwhile, New York lawmakers say they’ll propose legislation that would criminalize manufacturing a 3D-printed gun at home and intentionally sharing instructions to print such weapons. [The Colorado Sun/ABC]

Vermont Governor Phil Scott declined to veto a gun safety bill that broadens the state’s extreme risk protection order laws, mandates a 72-hour waiting period for firearm purchases, and requires safe storage practices, allowing it to become law without his signature. The bill was framed as a suicide prevention measure — but some parents and school leaders say policymakers could have done more to help young people struggling with their mental health. [Vermont Public/VTDigger]


What Makes a Gun a Ghost Gun?: Everything you need to know about the homemade, untraceable firearms that are increasingly turning up at crime scenes. (December 2019)