What To Know Today
Why we’re suing the ATF and DOJ. The Trace’s Will Van Sant submitted eight different Freedom of Information Act requests to the ATF and the Department of Justice between April and October 2021. By March 2022, the agencies acknowledged receiving the requests that covered a slew of different records, including communications between government officials at both agencies and a prominent gun lobbyist. But Will received a determination in response to just one of his requests, where the DOJ said it could not locate the records in question. In no cases did he receive any record. On July 27, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press filed a FOIA suit in U.S. District Court on behalf of Will and The Trace, saying that the DOJ and ATF failed to comply with deadlines and violated public records law. New requests, old problem: As we reported last summer, the ATF’s slow and inconsistent production of documents related to FOIA requests is consistent with what activists, lawyers, and former employees say are widespread problems with the ATF’s FOIA program. And the agency has one of the worst track records among federal agencies when it comes to producing public information.
Another newsroom lawsuit — this one over the Uvalde shooting. More than a dozen state and national newsrooms including The Texas Tribune, ProPublica and Gannett filed a lawsuit accusing the Texas Department of Public Safety of violating the Texas Public Information Act by withholding information about the law enforcement response to the shooting. As the consortium of newsrooms say DPS refused to release records, the agency at the same time disclosed information in various testimonies, press conferences, or other forums. For its part, The Texas Tribune said its staff had filed more than 70 records requests with the state and that almost none had been fulfilled.
Texas man convicted of storming the U.S. Capitol with a gun sentenced to 87 months. The sentence for Guy Reffitt was the longest to date in any of the cases related to the events of January 6, 2021. Reffitt had a holstered handgun, helmet, zip ties, and body armor during the insurrection, and prosecutors allege that he was a recruiter for the Texas Three Percenters militia group. During the trial, Reffitt’s 19-year-old son testified that his father had told him and his sister that “traitors get shot” while warning them not to report him to authorities after the events of January 6. The sentence was less than half of the 15-year term prosecutors called for as they labelled Reffitt a domestic terrorist.
Sandy Hook families suing Alex Jones for defamation accused him of diverting funds before bankruptcy. Last week, the far-right conspiracy theorist’s primary company, Free Speech Systems — the parent company of InfoWars — declared bankruptcy amid the first of three trials to determine how much Jones owes to families of Sandy Hook victims after losing defamation trials. On Monday, a lawyer representing nine families said Jones “has been systematically siphoning large amounts of money” — more than $62 million — out of Free Speech Systems since they sued him in 2018 for saying the 2012 shooting was a hoax.
Americans bought an estimated 1.4 million guns last month, according to our tracker that analyzes FBI data. This seasonally adjusted figure includes about 840,000 handguns and 550,000 long guns (rifles and shotguns). The total figure was down 7 percent from the previous July and compares to 1.5 million gun purchases in June of this year, which was the highest monthly tally since last September.
At least 29 — the number of states that allow non-police school employees to carry guns on school grounds.
45 out of 74 — the share of school districts in Florida with school staff members participating as armed guardians on campus under a program the state rolled out after Parkland, according to state officials. That comes out to more than 1,300 such armed officials in the state.
About one-third — the share of Texas school districts (402 in total) participating in a state program allowing designated people including school staff to be armed, according to state data.
2.6 percent — the share of public schools that had at least one faculty member armed on campus, according to the most recent 2018 federal survey data. The toll is likely now higher. [The New York Times]