Good morning, Bulletin readers. Coronavirus layoffs hit the NRA. And New Jersey finds a unique way to halt gun sales during lockdown. Those stories lead your Tuesday roundup.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
The NRA is laying off staff and instituting pay cuts because of the coronavirus crisis. In an email obtained by Newsweek, Wayne LaPierre, the National Rifle Association’s CEO, informed the board of directors and executive council that because of “extraordinary challenges” resulting from the pandemic, “certain positions” will be eliminated, hourly employees will adopt a four-day workweek, and staffers will endure 20 percent pay cuts. Earlier this month, concerns over the virus forced the gun group to cancel its annual meeting in Nashville. In a statement, the NRA’s outside council said the outbreak had “caused a major disruption to our fundraising activities.” He added that pay cuts will “apply to all levels of the organization.” LaPierre’s total compensation in 2018, the last year for which tax filings are available, was $2.15 million.
NEW from THE TRACE: New Jersey suspends gun background check system, stopping gun sales. On March 21, New Jersey joined a growing number of states to mandate the closure of “nonessential” businesses, including gun stores, to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But instead of just telling stores to close and hoping for the best, officials shut down the gun background check system. The move renders sales virtually impossible. Champe Barton has the story.
- The Rhode Island Governor’s Office confirmed that shooting ranges were “nonessential” and must close. A local gun rights group objected, citing safety concerns for new, inexperienced gun owners. “It’s a public safety disaster,” the group’s president told The Providence Journal.
- In Pennsylvania, the state Supreme Court denied a gun rights group’s challenge to stave off the closure of gun retailers following the governor’s stay-at-home order.
- New York State’s list of “essential businesses” does not include gun stores, and has already forced their closure.
- Connecticut and Ohio joined Illinois in allowing gun shops to operate despite stay-at-home orders.
Keeping kids safe amid school closures in the nation’s capital. The Washington Post took a look at how community leaders are working to keep at-risk D.C. children shielded from gun violence during the coronavirus crisis. School resource officers, teachers, and outreach workers are trying to maintain contact with students, and violence interrupters are working to stop youth disputes from turning violent, albeit while donning gloves and practicing social distancing. “A lot of the kids who don’t see each other during the day are starting to interact,” one outreach worker said. “This is going to be a test of all the settlements of disagreements.”
ICYMI: As in Washington, violence interrupters continue to work in Chicago under Illinois’s stay-at-home order — except now they’re also pulling double-duty as public health educators, as The Trace’s Lakeidra Chavis reported last week.
Oregon police: In case of emergency, put that new gun down and call 911. State Police conducted nearly 20,000 background checks in the first two weeks of March, compared to 31,060 in all of March 2019. Bend Police Lieutenant Juli McConkey told local newspaper The Bulletin that while fear may have prompted some citizens to buy guns, they shouldn’t act on their own. “If someone is a witness or victim of looting, burglary, or robbery we want people to call 911 and not to take matters into their own hands.”
Yelp user interest in guns and ammunition is up 360 percent from March 8 through March 18. — The Verge