Peddlers of election fraud myths evade Facebook bans as some flock to a more lenient online home. Last week, the social media giant barred the fast-growing “Stop the Steal” group for working to delegitimize election results and posting violent threats. The slogan has continued to crop up at pro-Trump protests, many of them drawing armed demonstrators. The Washington Post reports that “Stop the Steal”-affiliated groups are evading the platform’s ban by tweaking their names — one calls itself “Nationwide Recount 2020.” Election misinformation is also increasingly migrating to Parler, a social media app that’s become a haven for conservatives and the far right because of few content regulations. According to the Post, Parler now boasts 7.6 million user accounts — compared to 4.5 million last week.

The NRA bet big on Thom Tillis in North Carolina. He just won re-election. Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham conceded in the closely watched Senate race, guaranteeing that party control of the chamber will hinge on two run-off races in Georgia in January. As we reported, gun rights and gun reform groups spent more on the North Carolina matchup than any other Congressional race this cycle (close to $6 million). It was the only race outside the presidential contest where the NRA spent more than $1 million. Tillis has sponsored the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, the National Rifle Association’s top federal legislative priority.

New York City will start sending mental health teams in place of armed officers on some 911 calls. The pilot program, set to launch in February, will target two “high-need” neighborhoods; teams will be made up of mental health professionals and Fire Department EMS. Police will provide backup on calls in which a person is reportedly armed or has demonstrated violent behavior. “We have a lot of details to work through, but I am confident that working together we will ensure a strong health-centered response to what are truly health emergencies,” said an FDNY first deputy commissioner. The effort comes as several high-profile national cases this year have shown the deadly consequences that can result from having officers respond to crisis calls. Cities including Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have launched similar alternative approaches. In 2019, New York City fielded 170,000 mental health-related 911 calls, the majority of them nonviolent. — Chip Brownlee, investigative fellow.

NEW from THE TRACE: Philadelphia fights a state ban on local gun laws. In late 2019, the city launched its first-ever enforcement action under a decade-old anti-trafficking ordinance, a mandate that Philadelphia’s top prosecutors had long written off as running afoul of a state pre-emption law that restricts municipalities from pursuing their own firearm regulations. The defendant has countered by requesting a permanent injunction blocking the city from enforcing the ordinance, and a hearing in the case is scheduled for tomorrow. The legal battle comes as Philadelphia has endured one of its worst years for homicides, and weeks after the city sued to have the state’s pre-emption law declared unconstitutional. “We have to pass policies to keep illegal guns out of people’s hands, and we can only do that if the legislature grants us the ability,” a member of the City Council told The Trace. Brian Freskos has the story.

A 19-year-old was charged with illegally buying the rifle for the underage Kenosha shooter. The 17-year-old perpetrator killed two people and wounded a third during unrest in August following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. According to records obtained by The Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel, Dominick Black said he acted as the straw purchaser in Wisconsin before transferring the rifle last summer. The shooter, who claims he acted in self-defense, is facing homicide charges.


There have been more than 1,500 shooting incidents in New York City this year, according to NYPD data. A summertime spike propelled the number to the highest reported level in 15 years. [City of New York]