What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: The return of the machine gun. For decades, fully automatic weapons were expensive and rarely used in crimes. Auto sears, which can cost less than $20 online, have changed that. From 2017 to 2021, the number of federal prosecutions involving the conversion devices jumped from 10 to 83, according to our exclusive analysis of court filings. Our investigation with VICE News found over 260 cases filed in the last five years, including robberies, assaults, and murders, with over 1,000 auto sears recovered, data not previously compiled by the government. “They’re one of the scariest things we’ve dealt with since I became an agent,” one ATF veteran told Alain Stephens, The Trace’s West Coast Correspondent. You can read more of his investigation here.
Stay tuned to our site or Twitter for a companion video report on auto sears produced with Vice News.
Gun violence protest near the Capitol greets members of Congress with body bags. Activists with March for Our Lives placed 1,100 empty body bags on the National Mall, a symbol of the 170,000 lives lost to gun violence in the four years since its inaugural march. The gun reform group grew out of the 2018 march organized by survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed. The body bags spelled out “thoughts and prayers,” an effort to spotlight congressional (and President Joe Biden’s) inaction on gun reform. — Chip Brownlee, reporter
Washington enacts a package of gun reforms, including a ban on high-capacity magazines. Democratic Governor Jay Inslee signed a bill into law on Wednesday barring the manufacture, distribution, and sale — though not possession — of high-capacity magazines. At least one gun rights group, the California-based Firearms Policy Coalition, pledged to challenge the law in court. The full panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction in Washington, recently upheld California’s similar ban as constitutional. Inslee also signed a ghost gun measure that requires DIY firearm builders to serialize their wares and a bill prohibiting the open carry of weapons at city meetings.
South Dakota governor signs bill eliminating fees for concealed carry permits. Kristi Noem, a Republican, signed legislation this week eliminating any state or county fees for the permits, an annual loss estimated at $110,000. “It will not cost you a penny to exercise your Second Amendment rights in South Dakota,” Noem said in a statement. The state will reimburse counties for the revenue they will lose from being unable to collect permit fees.
At least 41 — the number of officers in two Los Angeles County sheriff’s stations who are allegedly members of “gang-like groups,” according to the top watchdog for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. [The Los Angeles Times]