What To Know Today

Biden set to unveil a flurry of executive actions on gun violence. The president is scheduled to appear later today alongside Attorney General Merrick Garland to announce the following steps:

  • Direct the Department of Justice within 30 days to issue a regulation for ghost guns. Since unserialized, DIY firearms are outside the normal supply chain, the action may involve how the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) classifies 80 percent lower receivers, partially finished gun components that are one of the most common ways to build a ghost gun and can be freely purchased without a background check. 
  • Direct the DOJ within 60 days to propose a rule for regulating so-called stabilizing braces, popular accessories intended to increase the accuracy of AR-15-style pistols and allow users to fire them much like their rifle counterparts. As we reported, the devices have been implicated in at least two mass shootings — including a recent attack in Boulder, Colorado — and allows a category of firearms to evade strict federal regulations.
  • Issue annual reports on gun trafficking, something the DOJ hasn’t done in two decades.
  • Within 60 days, create a model legislation for red flag laws, measures which allow law enforcement and family members to remove firearms from at-risk people.  
  • Make changes to 26 federal grant programs across five different agencies to prioritize funding for community violence interventions. That announcement is in addition to the $5 billion in funding for community-based gun violence prevention the White House proposed in its jobs and infrastructure bill last week.

“These critical investments did not just happen overnight and are proof that there is no power greater than the power of people organizing for their communities,” said Pastor Michael McBride, director of Faith In Action’s Urban Strategies & LIVE FREE Campaign, about the inclusion of actions targeting community violence.

The president also plans to announce a gun reform advocate to lead the ATF. David Chipman, a former ATF special agent who is currently a senior policy adviser at the gun reform group Giffords, will be tasked with leading the DOJ agency that plays a key role in regulating firearms, and advocates have targeted it as one of the key areas where Biden can advance his agenda absent legislation. Currently led by acting chief Regina Lombardo, the ATF has not had a Senate-confirmed head since 2015.

Wayne LaPierre admitted that he and his family enjoyed summer and winter getaways in the Bahamas aboard a yacht owned by an NRA vendor. The comments came as the National Rifle Association’s CEO took the stand for the first time in the gun group’s Texas bankruptcy case. We reported yesterday that documents introduced in the case showed that the NRA had paid companies linked to the vendor, a Hollywood producer, $800,000 a month more than the maximum stipulated in contracts. LaPierre testified that from 2013 to 2020, he had not reported the trips, and others he’d taken in Europe on another of the producer’s yachts, as required by the NRA’s conflict-of-interest policy. “I believe now that it should have been disclosed,” he said. “It was one of the mistakes that I made.” LaPierre indicated that he had withheld the information for security reasons, saying, “I was living under incredible threat at the time.” In 2018, as part of a push to strengthen legal and regulatory compliance, the NRA held seminars for employees. LaPierre testified that he had not attended, but had reviewed the material taught in the seminars. “Looking back,” he said, “I wish that I had attended.” LaPierre repeatedly digressed in his responses, leading the judge to urge direct answers. “Mr. LaPierre, please don’t do that again, all right?”  he said at one point. “There wasn’t a pending question.” — Will Van Sant, staff writer 

New York State budget would include violence intervention funding. A $212 billion budget deal announced Tuesday would designate gun violence a public health crisis and invest $10 million in community-focused anti-violence and hospital-based intervention programs. The budget would also commit 10 percent of the state’s allotment of federal Victims of Crime Act funding to the efforts. State Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie first proposed these gun violence prevention efforts in legislation that we wrote about in our weekly newsletter earlier this year. “New York continues to face enormous challenges: a global pandemic and its resulting economic hardship, an epidemic of gun violence, and a reckoning with decades of disinvestment and racial inequality,” Myrie said in a press release, adding that the budget “sets the stage for an equitable recovery by providing relief to those who need it most.”

City Council in Portland, Oregon, approves $6 million in funding to fight gun violence. The proposal includes additional money for the city’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention to disburse to community-led groups. It would also prioritize gun violence investigations in the Police Department, but assign no new money to the agency. The move comes as the city faces a steep rise in gun violence, with nearly 300 shootings this year compared to just 100 at the same time last year, while homicides are on pace to reach an all-time record. Related from The Trace: Last year, we reported on the city’s move to disband the police gun violence reduction team that critics said unfairly targeted the city’s Black communities, and the effort to reimagine public safety in its wake.

Data Point

Three — the number of states that have now ended qualified immunity after New Mexico this week passed a law barring the legal shield protecting police from being sued for their actions on the job. It joins Colorado and Connecticut in making it easier for people to sue law enforcement agencies for civil rights violations. [The Wall Street Journal]