Good morning, Bulletin readers. Even as gun sales boom, the NRA is slashing staff, citing the same pandemic-related economic pressures that have sent unemployment claims to record levels. An internal email and interviews with former high-level NRA staffers suggest there’s more to the story. That scoop leads your Thursday briefing.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: NRA board member slams group’s leaders for secretive layoffs. The National Rifle Association has reportedly jettisoned more than 60 employees, and now Will Van Sant has tracked down details about the cuts and the internal turmoil they’ve fueled. Among those let go: several employees who solicited big-dollar donations for the group, according to former NRA employees and emails reviewed by The Trace. While NRA boss Wayne LaPierre attributed the reductions to the severe economic side effects of the coronavirus, people familiar with the organization’s inner workings told Will that donations were down and legal fees were straining the NRA’s budget before the pandemic struck. In an email sent April 5 to the NRA’s chief counsel and other top officials, longtime board member Robert K. Brown wrote that “more are rumored to be fired this coming week” and demanded more information about the downsizing. “Why have we not been advised regarding termination of employees? … Who is making these decisions … and why?” Read the story.
Youth activists urge Joe Biden to go big on gun violence prevention. March For Our Lives is part of a coalition of groups pushing the now-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee to embrace an unabashedly progressive platform. Among the gun policy proposals in their letter: a gun licensing program; more funding for community violence prevention; directing the IRS to probe the NRA’s finances; appointing a national director of gun violence prevention; and appointing an attorney general who would reassess the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision.
Local leaders disclose the legal threats that pressured them to keep gun stores open. Steve Schewel, the mayor of Durham, North Carolina, was a staunch supporter of shuttering gun shops as part of broader social distancing efforts. Then Gun Owners of America and Grass Roots North Carolina sent him a letter threatening to sue, citing the Trump administration’s guidance declaring the gun industry as essential businesses during the pandemic. Schewel quietly backtracked days later. “Our lawyers said we couldn’t win,” he told a local outlet this week. Wake County and the city of Greensboro quietly made similar reversals after they were sent the same letter.
A Republican congressional candidate is giving away an AR-15 to use against “looting hordes from Atlanta.” Paul Broun is a former member of the Tea Party caucus running for another tour in the House of Representatives. He’s holding the assault-style rifle raffle for subscribers to his email list. “Whether it’s looting hordes from Atlanta, or a tyrannical government from Washington, there are few better liberty machines than an AR-15,” he said in an accompanying video. Pressed by The Guardian, Broun claimed the reference to Atlanta was “not racial.”
A California man killed three family members in a murder-suicide. A city official in Menifee, about 90 minutes southeast of L.A., said investigators are still searching for motives, but noted that the pandemic had put city officials on high alert to provide help for people with mental health and depression.
21 people were shot in Chicago on Tuesday, seven of them fatally. It was the city’s highest one-day total this year. [The Chicago Sun-Times] Shootings had decreased slightly in the second half of March as Illinois imposed its stay-at-home order, but as one scholar told Lakeidra Chavis, “COVID-19 is not a cure for Chicago violence.” [The Trace]