What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: In Brooklyn, Black gun owners find community. Like many other Black women who have sought out a new way to protect themselves during the past few years, Stephanie Williams decided to buy a firearm. In an effort to learn how to handle her weapon, and to find a community, Williams joined the Downstate New York Diasporans Firearm Club, a chapter of the National African American Gun Association. Williams is one of a growing number of Black New Yorkers taking up legal arms both to protect themselves and to exercise a right that has not been equally assured for people of color. Several Black firearms clubs and gun owners in New York form the basis of the third installment of The Damage Done, a series of documentaries exploring the nuances of gun violence in New York produced by BRIC TV in partnership with The Trace. You can watch it here.

NEW from THE TRACE: Illinois becomes first state in the Midwest to ban ghost guns. We covered the story in yesterday’s newsletter, but we now have re-published a piece on our site about the law from The Chicago-Sun Times. Check it out here.

Buffalo suspect indicted as investigators continue to pore over his online trail. The 18-year-old’s exact charges are not yet public, but he is scheduled to be officially arraigned on June 9. During Thursday’s short hearing announcing the indictment, a person in the gallery yelled: “You’re a coward!” Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that shortly before the shooting, 15 people accepted invitations from the suspect and reportedly signed onto his private chatroom on an online server. When they accepted, they would have been able to scroll back through months of his plans and racist screeds and access an online video stream on which he broadcast footage of the attack. Listen: Jennifer Mascia appeared on CNN’s “Early Start” to talk about the Buffalo shooting, how New York’s red flag law failed to disarm the shooter, and Governor Kathy Hochul’s new executive order to strengthen it. 

Federal hate crimes charges announced against man accused of plotting racist shooting. Prosecutors say the Georgia man fired repeatedly into two convenience stores in Jonesboro, Georgia, on July 30, 2021. The indictment says the white shooter was motivated by the background of the people in the store. “Hate-fueled violence has no place in a civilized society,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Thankfully, no one was injured by the conduct alleged in this case.”

Advancing bipartisan Senate bill would train officers in deescalation for people in crisis. The Law Enforcement De-Escalation Training Act seeks to provide alternatives to the use of force through training, especially in confronting mental and behavioral health crises. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and John Cornyn introduced the bill in April, and it advanced out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The bill would require the Department of Justice to develop curricula for officer training on mental health, authorize $124 million in annual grant funding for training programs through 2026, and require government impact evaluations of any new training, among other programs and partnerships. Fifteen senators — seven Republicans and eight Democrats — joined in co-sponsoring.

One of the Senate’s stalwart gun reformers on the current state of play. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, of Connecticut, told The New York Times that he thinks gun reform is still a winning issue politically, but also acknowledged the difficult reality in Congress on the issue right now. He said that efforts to resuscitate any part of universal background check legislation still lacks the necessary filibuster-proof votes, and echoed criticism he’s made about President Biden’s slow pace on guns: “The administration could have moved faster on executive actions and the appointment of a new ATF director. I want them to keep going.”

Data Point

More than 50 — the number of clips and online links of the Christchurch, New Zealand, gunman’s live-stream of his 2019 attack that The New York Times found in one 24-hour search period this week. The footage was on at least nine platforms and sites, including Twitter and 4chan. Despite regular efforts to restrict such footage, as in the Buffalo attack, platforms regularly fail to keep the content off for long. [The New York Times]