What To Know Today
“We must end this uncivil war.” In a somber but resolute inaugural address that referenced the Capitol attack, President Joseph R. Biden Jr. called for unity in facing the “rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism.” Those threats were cause for warnings of armed marches and more political violence, but Inauguration Day ended largely without incident. An executive in action. During his first hours in the Oval Office, Biden issued a flurry of presidential orders on immigration, climate change, and the economy. Here’s our look at seven ways he can use executive actions to advance gun reforms. A politician’s evolution on gun policy: As we chronicled last fall, Biden opposed gun restrictions as a young senator; championed a ban on assault-style weapons and penalties for illegal gun possession in the early 1990s as part of a broader crime crackdown; led the Obama administration’s efforts to expand gun safety measures after the Sandy Hook school shooting; and ran for president on the most aggressive reform platform in memory.
NEW from THE TRACE: Gun groups went all in on Trump. They got a lot less than he promised. During his first run for president, Trump pledged a firearm owners’ utopia: Concealed carry licensees would be able to carry nationwide. Gun-free zones were to be abolished immediately. Trump even sent his son Donald Trump Jr. to liaise with a silencer company, stirring notions that he might reverse regulations on suppressors. The National Rifle Association gave Trump an unprecedentedly early endorsement and was a leading financial backer of his 2016 run. But once in office, Trump proved a fickle ally whose most direct impact on federal gun policy was arguably the federal ban on bump stocks. Trump’s three pro-gun Supreme Court appointees may eventually deliver the gun rights expansions he himself did not, but as of now, “it’s been a very mixed legacy, and overall, potentially a great disappointment for gun rights advocates,” said gun politics expert Adam Winkler.
Trump’s far-right following splinters as its fantasy of four more years collides with reality. Some Proud Boys, once willing “to serve as Trump’s private militia,” now call him “a total failure,” reports The New York Times, which adds that members of the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters are also criticizing the ex-president in their Telegram channels. QAnon believers, who up to the last moment clung to the unhinged hope that mass arrests would prevent Biden’s swearing in, are now realizing “we’ve been had,” while one of the conspiracy theory’s top boosters says it’s time to move on: “We have a new president sworn in and it is our responsibility as citizens to respect the Constitution… Please remember all the friends and happy memories we made together over the past few years.”
- Signs that the fever is breaking: The Times argues that the Proud Boys’ disenchantment “raises questions about the strength of the support for Mr. Trump and suggests that pockets of his fan base are fracturing.”
- Reasons for ongoing concern: “I don’t want to be overly alarmist about this, but I am concerned that some people… will react to seeing Trump actually leave the White House and Biden actually being president as a kind of a break that motivates them to be more violent,” national security expert Nicholas Grossman told us. In Telegram chats, some QAnon followers are indicating they now believe they need to act on their own; one called for “invoking the 2nd Amendment.” — Chip Brownlee, investigative fellow
Man charged over Capitol attack arrested in New York City with shotgun, ammo cache. Samuel Fisher had been staying in an Upper East Side apartment where FBI agents also found a Glock pistol and assault-style rifle. In charging documents, federal prosecutors say he unlawfully entered the Capitol complex on January 6 and participated in disorderly conduct with an intent to disrupt the election certification. An FBI affidavit alleges Fisher came to D.C. with a rifle and made a number of violent and gun-related threats around the insurrection. Related: Our running list of gun arrests tied to the Capitol attack.
As a gun violence surge continues, prevention workers seek resources. To fight the uptick that has spilled into 2021, a coalition of violence prevention organizations in Los Angeles is calling for more funding to increase pay and hire more workers. There are about 120 street outreach workers operating every day in the city, and the Urban Peace Institute wants to increase that to 500 trained specialists, plus 250 community leaders to assist with conflict mediation. “While the city has been asking gang interventionists to step up, gang intervention has been diluted over the years. And now [intervention workers] are burnt out from multiple crises,” Fernando Rejón, the institute’s executive director, told LAist.
135 — the number of U.S. civil rights organizations publicly opposing the creation of a new domestic terrorism statute to fight violent far-right extremism, citing the potential for civil liberties abuses. [The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights]