Featured Story

A recent 4th Circuit opinion criticized the practice of contradictory prosecutions, in which prosecutors offer opposing versions of the truth while trying different, but related, cases. Often, these cases involve a gun: After Keyon Paylor’s arrest in 2014, for example, prosecutors argued in one case that Paylor hid a gun that police found, and in another that police planted the gun and framed Paylor. [ProPublica]

Background Checks

Tomorrow marks 30 years since the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act took effect and established a nationwide system for background checks on gun sales. The law, known as the Brady Bill, requires gun stores and other federally licensed firearms dealers to contact the FBI to check a gun buyer’s background, drug use, and criminal history.

But, crucially, it doesn’t apply to firearm sales that don’t go through a licensed dealer, like deals arranged at gun shows and yard sales, between friends and strangers, or through online listing sites. That gap, sometimes called the “gun show loophole,” has led to tragedy linked to high-profile mass shootings like Columbine as well as everyday community violence.

In retrospect, the gap in federal law seems like a glaring oversight. Was Congress aware of it then? To explain how the private sales loophole came to be, The Trace spoke to several people who were on Capitol Hill during the bill’s passage and in the years after, as lawmakers tried in vain to expand it. 

Read more from The Trace →

What to Know Today

The Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled more than 120,000 biometric gun safes produced by several brands after 91 reports that they could be opened without authorization. [NBC]

Colorado launched an online firearms data dashboard that tracks information on gun violence, safe storage practices, and extreme risk protection order use, among other topics. The dashboard is part of a larger push in the state to approach gun violence prevention from a public health framework. [CPR

New research shows that Black people in Chicago experienced significant increases in suicide between 2015 and 2021, and more than half of Black men who died by suicide used a firearm. In the same period, suicide among white Chicagoans decreased overall. [American Journal of Public Health

As campaign season continues, gun regulation is playing a role in two Texas lawmakers’ bids for office: State Senator Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat who represents Uvalde, has made reform a central tenet of his bid to challenge U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in November. And U.S. Representative Tony Gonzales, a centrist Republican, faces primary challenges from far-right candidates unhappy with his support for gun safety legislation and his history of working with Democratic colleagues. [Texas Monthly/The Texas Tribune

A North Dakota judge dismissed a challenge, filed by the city of Fargo, to a new state law that restricts local governments’ authority to regulate guns and ammunition. North Dakota’s measure is among a wave of recent preemption laws that have targeted local authority over gun regulations, criminal prosecutions, and police budgets. [Associated Press/Slate

Who has legal liability for the February 14 mass shooting at the Super Bowl victory rally in Kansas City, Missouri? One criminal defense attorney, working off a tip that one of the guns had been modified with a switch, pondered a tactic to hold gunmakers accountable without running into the firearms industry’s special legal protections: “One way to get around that is if the weapon has a defect, and I think it is worth exploring the argument that if a gun can be converted like that, it constitutes a defect.” [The Kansas City Star]


He Tracked Terrorists for the FBI. Now His Job Is to Stop School Shooters and Teen Suicides: Even in small-town Ohio, keeping students safe requires constant vigilance — and special attention to the risks posed by firearms. (March 2020)