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A political scientist zeroes in on why some shutdown protesters are carrying guns: “Because they are intimidating.” In a Washington Posop-ed, Robert Spitzer, a scholar of the gun debate, analyzes the potent presence of armed demonstrators at rallies seeking to pressure governors to lift stay-at-home restrictions: “The mere presence of guns — and it only need be a few — in a collective protest setting is a way to express a threat by nonverbal means…” he writes. “…It is inherent in the act, putting it squarely at odds with vigorous, open, and lawful political dissent.” That’s why some states have historically criminalized armed protest, he argues.

Advocates push Congress on pandemic domestic violence protections.  The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence joined with Everytown for Gun Safety in asking federal lawmakers for additional funding for crisis hotlines and shelters providing victim services. The groups also want emergency funding for courts to execute domestic violence restraining orders and gun surrenders. “Lawmakers planning future relief packages can’t forget about the women trapped at home with their abusers as stress levels continue to rise,” the head of NCADV told HuffPost. (Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here are our policies on financial transparency and editorial independence.)

Active shooter incidents saw a 16 percent spike in casualties last year. That’s according to a new FBI report cataloguing 28 active shootings in the United States in 2019, one more than the year before. The bureau defines an active shooting as an incident in which one or more gunmen attempt to kill people in a populated area. Six of the shootings were in Texas, the most of any state. Only one active shooting was stopped by an armed civilian, the same as the year before. Studies show: Successful defensive gun use is the exception, rather than the norm.

A bank leader’s comments underscored the NRA’s corporate reputation. As recently as 2018, data showed that Wells Fargo provided the National Rifle Association with a $28 million dollar line of credit and was its chief banker. But following activism against companies that do business with the gun group, the lender has distanced itself from its former client. This week, during the bank’s annual shareholders meeting, its CEO emphasized that Wells Fargo’s relationship with the gun group was “declining.” (Last August, in the aftermath of the mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, a spokesperson used the same description.) Sign of the times: Last year, Wells Fargo gave nearly $3 million to the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.

Jackson, Mississippi’s temporary ban on openly carried guns draws legal pushback. A local nonprofit filed the suit on behalf of a Republican state lawmaker to overturn Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s ban on visibly displayed weapons during the pandemic. The suit follows a letter from the state attorney general calling the ban illegal and demanding that it be rescinded. Lumumba says emergency powers give him the authority to enact the ban, which he cited as necessary to aid law enforcement in policing illegal guns amid persistently high rates of city gun violence.

California’s ammunition background check law is back on — for now. Last week, a federal judge blocked the first-of-its-kind U.S. law, calling it unconstitutional. Now, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an emergency stay after an appeal by the state attorney general, a development flagged by the Washington Free Beacon. The California law also bars residents from carrying ammunition across state lines.

Two Trace reporters are Livingston Awards finalists. Staff writer Brian Freskos and reporter Alain Stephens are up for the distinguished honor that recognizes reporting and storytelling by journalists under the age of 35. Freskos is a finalist in the national reporting category for Easy Targets, his February 2019 exposé on lax gun store security that was published in partnership with The New Yorker. Stephens is a finalist in the local reporting category for his May 2019 feature on the proliferation of homemade, unserialized ghost guns in California. The Trace was also named a finalist for a 2020 Webby Award for Best Individual Editorial Feature by a media organization for Since Parkland, which enlisted student reporters to profile 1,200 American kids and teens fatally shot in the year after the Florida school shooting. We are thankful for the recognition.


From March 22 to April 22, the Transportation Security Administration found one gun for every 80,000 people screened at U.S. airport security checkpoints. That’s close to three times the rate during the same stretch in 2019. An aviation security expert blames an “apocalypse mindset.” Transportation Security Administration