What to Know Today

California law enforcement agencies spend millions on firearms from lawbreaking dealers. A new Brady analysis reveals that, between 2015 and 2021, at least 90 state police agencies purchased more than $20 million in guns and other gear from federal firearms licensees that have been cited by the ATF for violating federal gun regulations. The bill, The Intercept reports, is mostly footed by taxpayers — and because the analysis didn’t cover all of California’s 531 law enforcement agencies, the cost might be higher. One of the dealers, LC Action, has been cited for more than 40 violations since 1995; after a 2005 inspection, an agent recommended its license be revoked. ICYMI: The ATF’s inspections program has long been lenient and conciliatory toward gun dealers. Read our investigation with USA TODAY

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The return of the “JR-15.” The Junior 15, an AR-style rifle sized for and marketed toward children, was the subject of heated criticism when it was unveiled at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual trade show last year. Now, The New Republic reports, its manufacturer is back at this year’s convention, taking place now in Las Vegas, advertising the weapon that “operates just like Mom and Dad’s gun.” 

Federal government won’t seek death penalty for accused El Paso, Texas, shooter. The decision is in keeping with the Justice Department’s stance since Merrick Garland took over as attorney general, El Paso Matters reports; the DOJ hasn’t sought the death penalty in any case since Garland took office in 2021. The alleged shooter faces hate crime charges and related counts for the murder of 23 people at an El Paso Walmart in 2018.

Department of Veterans Affairs launches free emergency mental health care program. Veterans in “acute suicidal crisis” can receive treatment at any health care facility even if they’re not enrolled in the VA system, CNN reports. The program covers inpatient treatment for one month and outpatient treatment for three months. According to a 2022 VA report, veterans are at much higher risk of suicide than nonveterans.

Challenges to Illinois assault weapons ban start rolling in. The Illinois State Rifle Association filed what appears to be the first federal suit against the law, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, joining a number of other challenges in lower courts. The ban, which was signed into law last week, could be blocked as soon as tomorrow.

Data Point

31.7 — the unadjusted veteran suicide rate per 100,000 in 2020, the most recent year with available data. The rate for nonveterans was 16.1 per 100,000. [Department of Veteran Affairs]