Hello, readers. In today’s briefing: A judge keeps 3-D printed guns offline, at least temporarily. Investigators have some of alleged Russian agent/NRA infiltrator Maria Butina’s bank records, and they are trying to follow the money. And the NRA’s top election contractor is still brushing aside reporters’ questions.
Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
New from The Trace: The National Rifle Association’s top election consultant continues to duck questions about possible campaign finance violations. Starboard Strategic Inc. has been under scrutiny from political reporters after Mike Spies’ investigation, co-published last month with Politico Magazine, led to a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission. Since then, the company’s partners have been adamant that they implement strict firewalls to prevent unfair coordination with a related firm used by numerous Republicans. But they have declined to provide documentation or answer questions about their compliance with FEC regulations.
Federal judge unplugs 3-D printed guns, for now. With hours to go before legal distribution of downloadable plans for plastic “ghost guns” was set to kick in, a federal judge in Seattle granted a temporary injunction in response to a lawsuit brought by eight state attorneys general. The judge concluded that the states had demonstrated “a likelihood of irreparable harm” but added that “serious First Amendment issues” remain to be worked out. A follow-up hearing is set for August 10. Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers declined to take up a bill to prevent the release of the blueprints. Democratic Senator Bill Nelson took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to ask for unanimous consent for the legislation, but was blocked by GOP Senators.
The NRA weighs in: “Regardless of what a person may be able to publish on the Internet, undetectable plastic guns have been illegal for 30 years,” the group’s top lobbyist, Chris Cox, wrote in a statement, a reference to a federal law mandating that firearms contain at least enough metal to be picked up by standard security scanners. The White House is using a similar talking point.
BuzzFeed gets the closest look yet at Maria Butina’s suspicious banking activity. One of its scoops: The alleged Russian agent and her American partner, Paul Erickson, moved a lot of cash — nearly $200,000 in all — in and out of their accounts, “which has made it difficult for investigators to determine the source or purpose of the funds.” And one possible way the investigation may go from here: “Counterintelligence officers say the duo’s banking activity could provide a road map of back channels to powerful American entities such as the National Rifle Association, and information about the Kremlin’s attempt to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”
Young gun reform activists will march 50 miles to Smith & Wesson headquarters. The demonstration is being organized by Stop Handgun Violence, March For Our Lives Boston, and 50 Miles More, the youth-led gun reform group that walked 50 miles to Paul Ryan’s home in Wisconsin during a March protest. Their upcoming demonstration is the second toward the group’s goal of holding 50-mile gun reform marches in all 50 states. It will begin in Worcester, Massachusetts, on August 23 and end August 26 with a rally at the gun manufacturer’s headquarters in Springfield. But first: Other youth gun violence prevention activists plan to shut down the street in front of the NRA’s Fairfax, Virginia, headquarters this Saturday.
Santa Fe, Texas, schools have accepted guns and ammo from an anonymous donor. The district, home to the high school where 10 people were fatally shot in May, has received $220,000 worth of guns, ammunition, and weapons training. The weapons include eight AR-15 rifles. The school says it does not intend to give guns to teachers, but will use the gift to further arm its security staff.
A town in Washington State will fine gun owners who fail to report stolen weapons. The Everett City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring gun owners to alert police about stolen firearms and fining those who fail to do so up to $250. The law goes into effect tomorrow. Context: Despite widespread support among law enforcement, only 11 states and Washington, D.C., have laws requiring gun owners to report stolen weapons.
There were more than 200 mass shootings in the first 212 days of 2018, according to Gun Violence Archive. The shootings took place across 33 states and Washington, D.C. Among the most recent victims: four people wounded in a drive-by shooting in Chicago on Monday; four people, all youths, shot in York, Pennsylvania, on Sunday; and another five shot, one fatally, at a Phoenix hotel that same day.
A 5-year-old boy was one of four people shot to death in a New York City apartment. Police say a man killed his 5-year-old child, his wife, and his ex-wife in Queens on Monday night, then took his own life. Investigators believe the shooting stemmed from a custody battle. Earlier that day, a man shot his pregnant girlfriend and her mother, who died, before taking his own life in Ocoee, Florida.
At a vigil for a shooting victim, family members learned another relative was shot. In Syracuse, New York, on Monday night, screams and cries erupted when news came that a second family member had just been shot. The second victim is expected to survive.
ONE LAST THING
The guns best at killing are the same guns criminals covet. That’s the combined takeaway from two recent studies, analyzed in a new post from Alex Yablon. The first, drawn from data in Boston Police investigative files, found that gunshot wounds from larger caliber bullets were significantly more likely to be fatal. That killing power is marketed by gun companies as selling point to concealed carriers, and it’s one reason larger caliber handguns have taken over the self-defense market, as Alex pointed out in 2016. A separate study confirms what some scholars have long suspected: the weapons’ appeal extends beyond legal gun owners. Through interviews with gang members and drug dealers, researchers found that “all respondents acknowledged that the most desirable guns were larger caliber semiautomatic pistols.”