What To Know Today

New York City defense attorneys invoke Bruen to challenge illegal gun possession cases. Last month, the Supreme Court endorsed a constitutional right to carry a gun in self-defense outside the home in invalidating a provision of New York law that required gun owners to show “proper cause” to carry a concealed gun. Since then, The City reports that public defenders in at least seven cases have asked judges to dismiss illegal gun possession charges against their clients, arguing that the ruling made no distinction between the specific gun permitting rules that were invalidated and broader laws against carrying guns without a permit. Judges have rejected the argument in four cases, while three are still pending. “Failing to seek a license before roaming the streets with a loaded firearm is not abiding by the law, and nothing in the Second Amendment requires that it be tolerated,” a state judge wrote in denying one such appeal. Similarly, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn DA argued, “We do not believe it [the Bruen case] affects those charged with illegal weapon possession who have never applied for a license or were denied under the provision that was struck down.” From The Trace: We addressed questions about how the SCOTUS case will affect New York residents. 

Just nine red flag petitions have been filed under New Mexico’s law since it took effect in July 2020. The state is one of 19 with a law to temporarily remove guns from people who are deemed a risk to themselves or others, but the law is still rarely being used in the state of 2.1 million people. “What we have to worry about is getting officers to understand this, because right now they don’t,” Sheila Lewis, who trains officials on how to petition for an order, told state legislators on Tuesday. The Associated Press reports that state officials are hoping to use new federal funding in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act that includes support for red flag law enforcement in states. Large disparities across states — and within them: State data analyzed by The Wall Street Journal shows that Illinois’ red flag law was invoked 37 times to seize guns in 2021 and 51 times in 2020. By comparison, Florida, California, and New York used the orders far more aggressively — 2,355; 984; and 255 times in 2020, respectively. 

Former Marine and alleged neo-Nazi who plotted mass violence arrested for straw purchases. Mathew Belanger was arrested in New York last month and charged with making false statements to a federally licensed gun dealer to facilitate straw purchases that a New York law enforcement officer made for him. In a July memo revealed by Rolling Stone, federal prosecutors said that, while still a Marine, he plotted violence for a neo-Nazi group and wanted to reduce the number of nonwhite Americans. He was in the Marines from 2019 until May 2021, when he left after receiving a discharge stemming from misconduct. While Belanger wasn’t charged over his alleged extremist plans, prosecutors used those plans to successfully argue that he be held in pretrial detention. 

Sandy Hook families ask for $150M judgment against Alex Jones as defamation trial begins. ​​A 16-person jury in Austin, Texas, will determine how much the far-right conspiracist owes to the families of the victims of the 2012 elementary school massacre after a jury previously found that Jones had defamed them in calling the shooting a hoax. In opening statements, a lawyer for one of the victims’ parents said Jones created a “massive campaign of lies.” At one point, the presiding judge faulted Jones for speaking with reporters within earshot of the jury during a break in proceedings. Jones faces a similar trial in Connecticut in September, where a jury will determine how much he owes other families of Sandy Hook victims. A lawyer for Jones withdrew from the case on Tuesday.

House Oversight Committee holds hearing on gun manufacturers. Alongside testimony from gun control advocates, the hearing will include the CEOs of Sturm, Ruger & Co.; Smith & Wesson; and Daniel Defense, whose companies produced the guns used in the mass shootings in a Boulder, Colorado, supermarket in 2021 and recent incidents in Highland Park, Illinois, and Uvalde, Texas, respectively. You can watch the hearing here, which begins at 10 a.m. EST.

Data Point

26 percent — the share of fatal shootings in Philadelphia that resulted in an arrest in 2021. The share dropped to 14 percent for nonfatal shootings. [Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office]