What to Know Today

After putting investigations of police shootings in the state’s hands, California struggles to keep up. As part of a law enacted in July 2021, the state Justice Department was tasked with probing incidents of fatal police shootings of unarmed people and reviewing whether officers should be criminally charged. Since then, CalMatters reports, the department has opened 25 cases — and resolved only one of them. Elsewhere in California, ProPublica found, officials in Vallejo have failed to implement more than 40 state DOJ-endorsed reforms to the city’s exceptionally lethal police force.

Alex Jones ordered to pay an extra $473 million to Sandy Hook families. A Connecticut judge imposed the damages on the Infowars host and his company for promoting false conspiracy theories about the 2012 elementary school massacre, bringing the total judgment in that lawsuit to $1.44 billion, the Associated Press reported. Jones was previously ordered by a Texas court to pay $50 million to the parents of a Sandy Hook victim.

What happened to Lauren Boebert? As votes were counted this week, the gun-toting, high-profile conservative lagged behind her Democratic challenger, Adam Frisch, in a surprisingly tight race to represent Colorado’s 3rd — a congressional district that had been redrawn to solidify a Republican advantage, CPR News reported. The race remained too close to call Friday morning, though Boebert gained a very narrow lead on Thursday night. Since the vocal gun rights activist was elected to Congress in 2020, Boebert, who owned a now-closed firearm-themed restaurant called Shooters Grill in Rifle, has been a contentious figure. Frisch, a former City Council member in Aspen, downplayed that he was running as a Democrat during his campaign, the Associated Press reported last month, and zeroed in on Boebert’s controversial celebrity status, asking voters if they wanted two more years of “angertainment.”

Defense Distributed wants to fight New Jersey’s ghost gun law in a Texas court. The nonprofit, which is headquartered in Texas, teamed up with the Second Amendment Foundation to challenge a 2018 law that makes it a felony to distribute instructions on how to make a firearm to anyone in New Jersey who is not a licensed manufacturer, Courthouse News reports. The groups are in a complex jurisdictional battle involving the Third Circuit, the Fifth Circuit, and a federal judge in Austin. What makes a gun a ghost gun? The term, The Trace’s Alain Stephens explains, describes homemade weapons devoid of serial numbers or other identifying markings that enable them to be tracked to their maker, seller, or original owner. 

Catching up on the tumultuous Oath Keepers trial. The seditious conspiracy case against five Oath Keepers has become mired in turmoil, CNN reports: Defense attorneys have accused each other of unethical conduct, prosecutors are clashing with the Oath Keepers’ attorneys over contacting defense witnesses before they take the stand to warn them against self-incrimination and potential future legal action, and the Justice Department accidentally confirmed that one witness the defense wanted to call was a secret informant against the group. Protected information has also allegedly been leaked to the press.

After home-rule decision, Columbus City Council announces gun restrictions. Leadership in the Ohio city said Wednesday that they would work to pass laws banning possession of high-capacity magazines, prohibiting “straw” purchases, and promoting safe storage, WSYX reported. According to the city attorney, Columbus is allowed to pass firearm regulations because of a recent court ruling that temporarily blocked part of a state law that prevents cities from enacting their gun restrictions.

Data Point

140 — the average number of people shot and killed by California law enforcement officers each year since 2016. [CalMatters]