What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE. The way we think about mass shootings ignores many Black victims. In the days following the incidents in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta, media organizations, politicians, and online commentators bemoaned the reappearance of mass violence in America that purportedly vanished during the pandemic. But mass shootings only slowed under a commonly used but restrictive definition that leaves out most mass-casualty incidents. When defined as incidents in which four or more people were shot in a public or private space, there were actually more mass shootings in 2020 than in any of the previous years for which data is kept, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Last year saw more than 600 mass shootings, almost double the average of the previous five years. The trend has continued into 2021, with more than 100 such shootings before the end of March. You can read Champe Barton’s story here.
President Joe Biden: “It’s a matter of timing” for action on gun reform. The brief comments came in his first full news conference as president, an event largely devoted to other topics. Earlier this week, Biden pressed Congress to advance two House-backed background check bills, as well as renew an assault weapons ban. Advocate pressure: The president’s latest comments came as three dozen gun violence prevention organizations called on him to release a comprehensive plan including executive actions, federal investments in community violence prevention, and aggressive legislative outreach.
Biden’s narrow political window for legislation. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin’s opposition this week to a House-passed universal background check bill shows just how difficult it could be to pass any gun reform bills. Manchin says he still supports his own previous — and more narrow — background check bill, but his comments show that even if Democrats were able to get the entire caucus to support ending the filibuster, they may still have trouble passing legislation with a simple majority. Looming executive action? The Wall Street Journal reports on a meeting happening later today between officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and firearm manufacturers about ghost gun parts.
The judge handling the NRA’s bankruptcy postponed hearings to make room for settlement talks. New York Attorney General Letitia James and other parties to the dispute allege that the National Rifle Association filed for bankruptcy in bad faith in order to evade a reckoning in New York over legal claims that James brought against the group in August. The allegations of malfeasance James has leveled against the NRA and its executives are central to the hearings on whether to dismiss the bankruptcy as a bad faith filing. Those hearings were to begin Monday, but the judge moved the start date to April 5 after the NRA argued that progress on the bankruptcy dispute had been made in talks with James’ office. “It sort of feels like we are engaged in nuclear negotiations,” an attorney for the NRA told the judge, “and that we have to tread lightly.” The attorney said nobody should hold their breath in anticipation of a settlement, “but I do think the parties are acting in good faith and trying to see if there is middle ground as it relates to our dispute.” — Will Van Sant, staff writer
Supreme Court rules in favor of New Mexico woman shot by the police. In a 5-3 decision in Torres v. Madrid, the court said that a lawsuit from Roxanne Torres could proceed against the two officers with the New Mexico State Police who shot at her 13 times, hitting her twice, in 2014 before she was able to drive away. She accused them of using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which bars unreasonable search and seizures. Courts have long considered excessive force by police as a form of seizure. Yesterday, the Supreme Court rejected a lower court’s ruling against Torres, affirming that the attempt to seize her qualifies under the Fourth Amendment even though she got away.
Alleged Boulder shooter makes first court appearance. The judge agreed to the public defender’s request to delay the next hearing to provide time to assess the defendant’s mental condition. The alleged perpetrator will enter a plea at a later date, and the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office said it would file new charges on top of the existing 10 counts of murder in the case.
$39 million — the available reserves for the Peace Officers Research Association of California’s legal defense fund, the nation’s largest, which pays legal costs for officers facing misconduct cases across the country. The fund has more than doubled since 2015 and draws money from the fees of more than 135,000 law enforcement members. [Mother Jones]