Good morning, Bulletin readers. A Trace exclusive leads today’s briefing: As the NRA navigates serious financial straits, it has entrusted its operations to a would-be catalogue king who attracted a mountain of lawsuits in his former career. Plus, the Trump administration shares a progress report on its efforts toward a federal bump stock ban.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: The NRA entrusted a top position to a failed mail-order mogul with a history of business flops and unpaid debts. In May 2016, when the National Rifle Association hired Joshua Powell as its director of operations, he was a virtual unknown at its Virginia HQ. Within a year, he was named the NRA’s executive director of general operations, and his sudden ascent sparked rumors that he was being groomed to one day lead the organization. But Powell’s tenure has been rocky, to say the least: The NRA posted a deficit of nearly $32 million in 2017, finishing in the red for the second year in a row as membership revenues tumbled by 22 percent. And the Carry Guard liability insurance program – “Josh’s baby,” says a source close to the NRA — has drawn regulatory actions in multiple states, threatened the NRA’s access to essential business services, and cost the organization “tens of millions.” Mike Spies and John Cook dug through more than a thousand pages of court records and interviewed a dozen of Powell’s former associates to reveal why his travails at the NRA are no surprise to those who know him from his former career. Read their investigation here.
President Trump said a federal bump stock ban is “two or three weeks” away. On Monday, the one-year anniversary of the deadliest shooting in modern American history, the president gave a progress report on the Justice Department’s effort to regulate the devices. “In order to eliminate — terminate — bump stocks, we have to go through procedure,” he said at a news conference in the Rose Garden. “We are now at the final stages of that procedure.” But the Justice Department offered a different timeline, confirming that a proposed ban was sent to the Office of Management and Budget last week for a review that could last as long as three months, after which the measure will be subjected to another public comment period. One notable detail in the DOJ’s announcement: Once the rule becomes effective, anyone who possesses a bump stock would be required to destroy it.
Meanwhile, states aren’t wasting any time. On Monday, bump stock bans took effect in Connecticut and Vermont. Nine other states and several cities have passed bans or restrictions on bump stocks since last year’s shooting.
Thieves driving a U-Haul stole roughly 400 guns from a UPS facility in Memphis. ATF officials say it’s one of the biggest gun heists the agency has ever investigated. Previously, on The Trace: Until two years ago, gun stores didn’t have to report guns stolen in transit. Shipping companies still don’t. And ATF records show that from 2010 to 2014, at least 6,600 crime guns were pilfered en route to dealers.
An Illinois school superintendent became a cop just so she could carry a gun at school. Julie Kraemer, who’s been an educator for 20 years, underwent nine months of police academy training — which included a 40-hour shooting course — after she realized there was no money for a full-time school resource officer in her tiny school district near the Indiana border. Related: An analysis by a multi-state gun violence consortium reveals why armed teachers probably won’t stop school shooters: If trained officers hit their target only 20 to 30 percent of the time, civilians aren’t likely to do better.
A Louisiana State University basketball player was killed in a shooting on Friday. Wayde Sims, 20, was killed during a fight outside a fraternity party near the school’s Baton Rouge campus shortly after midnight. Players and spectators honored his life at a football game the following evening by wearing his number, 44. A man was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
ONE LAST THING
What a mass shooting taught Capital Gazette reporters about covering gun violence. In a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Monday, three reporters from the Annapolis, Maryland, newspaper where a gunman killed five people in June fielded questions from the public. Selene San Felice, who firmly rejected “thoughts and prayers” after the rampage, said the publication is now more sensitive about boosting a gunman’s notoriety. “Editors need to understand how traumatic it is for gun violence victims to see photos of shooters,” she said. “When those photos are used as featured images and randomly pop up on our feeds, or are the first thing we see on their site or in the paper, it’s awful.” Read highlights from the Q&A here.