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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Gun sales remained at near-historic levels last month. The FBI’s gun background check system completed roughly 2.9 million screenings in April, the fourth-highest month on record and a 25 percent increase over April of last year. The figure marks the continuation of a surge in background checks that began in late February, as the coronavirus pandemic propelled record numbers of Americans to purchase guns. Raw background check numbers are not a perfect proxy for guns sold. According to the consulting firm Small Arms Analytics, the April background check numbers translates to approximately 1.8 million sales.
Mayors plead to Congress: Don’t ignore another public health crisis. In a letter to Senate and House leadership, the mayors of 17 major cities asked for emergency funding to help municipalities address gun violence, which has intensified during the pandemic. The mayors want general relief for cities and states facing coronavirus-related budget shortfalls, emergency support for community-based violence intervention programs, and changes to make it easier for small nonprofits doing street outreach work to qualify for small business loans under the Paycheck Protection Program. “Our emergency resources are dedicated to protecting public health and safety, but we do not have enough health care resources to fight both these battles,” the letter reads. ICYMI: Violence intervention groups in Chicago and Baltimore have pivoted to public health outreach during the pandemic, and the leaders of those groups argue that their work has never been more valuable.
No new gun case for SCOTUS — but a decision could still come soon. On Monday, less than a week after dismissing its first major Second Amendment case in a decade, the high court was given another opportunity to rule on guns. The justices declined to advance any of the 10 gun-related cases before them. But the court might still decide to wade into the firearm issue — and the next opportunity could come as early as May 18. The potential cases include the constitutionality of assault weapons bans, carrying handguns in public, or a federal ban on out-of-state handgun purchases.
The governor of South Dakota signed an NRA-backed law limiting her office’s emergency powers. The amendment to a broader bill expanding the governor’s emergency powers signed by Kristi Noem on Friday limits the governor’s ability to suspend gun possession, sale, or use in disasters, terror attacks, or other emergencies. The original version, which Noem introduced on March 30, had no gun-related exemptions.
Wayne LaPierre’s successful power consolidation may have made it harder to find a successor. That’s the takeaway of an Ammoland column by Jeff Knox, a prominent gun rights supporter whose father used to head the National Rifle Association’s lobbying arm. Knox points out that past heirs apparent — Chris Cox, Kyle Weaver, and Oliver North — have all been forced out of the organization. “The question now is whether anyone with the necessary qualifications will step up to run against LaPierre, and whether anyone on the Board will have the cajones to make a nomination,” Knox writes. Answers could come at the next NRA members’ meeting, which was scheduled for April 18 but postponed due to the pandemic. Background: Last year, after The Trace and The New Yorker revealed how NRA leaders and vendors have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the gun group’s coffers, Knox called on members of the NRA’s audit, finance, and executive committees to resign.
Three people charged in slaying over face coverings. More info is coming in on a case we covered yesterday: Calvin Munerlyn was working at a Family Dollar store in Flint, Michigan, on Friday when he told a woman that her child couldn’t enter the store without a mask. An argument ensued. The woman left, returning with her husband and son. The son proceeded to fatally shoot Munerlyn, the County Prosecutor’s Office said Monday. All three were charged with murder and gun charges, but the police are still searching for the husband and son, officials said.
$3 million — the annual funding at stake for Maryland’s violence intervention and prevention program. May 7 is the deadline for Governor Larry Hogan to finalize the state’s budget in the face of a pandemic-induced shortfall. — Maryland General Assembly