Georgia’s permissive gun laws are costing Atlanta: Since a state appellate court confirmed last year that organizers of private events can’t ban guns on public lands, at least three music festivals have canceled or relocated to private venues over safety concerns. Now, as The New York Times reported last week, the laws could ruin the city’s bid to host the 2024 Democratic National Convention, too.

Two Democratic National Committee members, who requested anonymity to speak freely, told The Trace they’re worried about the potential for political violence in Atlanta. Though guns are banned anywhere the Secret Service is present — events involving sitting and former presidents and vice presidents supersede state law — many of the city’s proposed venues are prohibited from barring firearms under Georgia law. And recent attacks on Democratic officials in New Mexico and then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband in California have raised concern that gathering lawmakers in close proximity with unpermitted, untrained concealed carriers could place them in peril. 

“I think the laxity of the gun laws makes it really potentially dangerous to have the convention there,” one DNC member said. “Just the fact that you have visitors that could come in and be carrying a gun.”

Another concern is optics. Chicago is Atlanta’s main competitor, and Illinois recently passed a sweeping gun reform law that drew national attention for including an assault weapons ban. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, meanwhile, signed permitless carry into law last year. One DNC member questioned the symbolism of rewarding a Republican-led state that’s systematically eroded gun laws with the resources of the DNC. “It’s important to really take a strong look at what the values of the party are trying to demonstrate,” said another. “If you’re not meeting them, that’s a total disregard of what the Democratic Party is.” 

At the end of the day, one DNC member asked, “What kind of a message does it send?”

Jennifer Mascia and Chip Brownlee contributed to this report.

From Our Team

The Shooting of a Temple University Police Officer Revives a Campus Safety Debate: Fifteen months after the community’s last high-profile killing, Philadelphia’s largest university is still struggling to keep its people safe.

ATF Director Urges Action on Auto Sears ‘Flooding Our Communities’: Fully automatic weapons are highly regulated, but the agency has recovered a startling number of machine gun conversion devices in recent years.

In Chicago, BUILD Wants Its New Headquarters to Be a Community Hub for Young People: The violence prevention organization expands its services in the Austin neighborhood, giving youth access to a garden, a recording studio, and career planning resources.

What to Know This Week

Roger Benitez, a gun-friendly U.S. district judge based in San Diego, is under review for ordering a U.S. marshal to handcuff a 13-year-old girl during her father’s probation hearing to deter her from using drugs. A 9th Circuit judge will review the allegations of misconduct. [Los Angeles Times]

Louisville, Kentucky’s police force was known for misconduct and brutality long before its officers killed Breonna Taylor in 2020. As the department anticipates a scathing Justice Department report on its practices, many officers agree that residents are right to question the institution’s authority. [The New York Times Magazine]

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed a bill allowing concealed carry permit holders to bring their firearms on public college campuses. At a public hearing last month, almost all of the 40 speakers were opposed to the bill, which will take effect in July 2024. [WV News/CBS News]

Michigan’s attorney general said she was among the officials targeted by a man who allegedly threatened to kill Jewish members of the state government. The man, who was arrested, had three handguns registered with the state police agency. [CNN]

A Texas eighth-grader who feared her school might be the target of a shooting was suspended and assigned to an “alternative school” after suspicions she texted to friends made their way to an administrator. The district eventually overturned its decision, but the girl’s mother says the harsh punishment makes it less likely other students would report threats. [The Dallas Morning News]

San Jose, California, has no data on whether its estimated 52,000 gun owners have obtained liability insurance under an ordinance requiring them to do so since January 1, nor has the city collected any of the annual “harm reduction” fees the rule requires. [San Jose Inside]

In spreading alarm about a “National Day of Hate” organized by a tiny Iowa neo-Nazi group unlikely to become violent or get media attention, did anti-antisemitism organizations like the ADL inadvertently amplify a white supremacist message? [Jewish Currents]

In 1973, Native activists occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in a 71-day standoff with the U.S. government and other law enforcement agencies. The legacy of the siege, which shone a light on the movement for Native Americans’ civil rights, lives on 50 years later. [ICT]

Government attorneys arguing gun restriction cases have been citing racist laws from the 18th and 19th centuries as evidence of precedence for firearm regulation. Legal scholars say the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision is to blame. [The Wall Street Journal]

For members of Rainbow Reload, a shooting group for gay and trans people in New Hampshire, their interest in guns is more than a hobby — they’re preparing to defend themselves from hate groups. It’s one of a number of such clubs nationwide. [NPR]

Chicago’s mayor is out, and her top two challengers are headed to a runoff. Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson both placed ahead of incumbent Lori Lightfoot, and will face off in April. [Chicago Sun-Times]

In Baltimore, 1 in 3 shooting victims so far this year have been high school-aged or younger, and the vast majority of those victims were between the ages of 13 and 18. Many of these shootings happened near schools. [The Baltimore Banner]

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In Memoriam

Charles Puckett Jr., 24, had “a heart of gold,” his loved ones remember. Puckett, known as “Lil Chuck,” was shot and killed while leaving his job at a food distribution center last week in Louisville, Kentucky. He was competitive, and loved to play sports and video games. He was also a family man: A “mamma’s boy to the core” and a devoted father of three young children, he was killed the day before his son Charles III’s third birthday. “He was a good-spirited person,” Puckett’s mother told the local ABC affiliate. “He had a real light to him.”

We Recommend

Why Young Thug?: How Prosecutors Made One of the Hottest Rap Stars the Face of Urban Crime: “This was the cost of progress, of revitalizing what Atlanta’s boosters have called the Black Mecca — a place ruled by Black elites, an incubator for Black wealth, a sanctuary of commerce and order and respectability. … The prosecution of Young Thug — who faces conspiracy charges that could send him to prison for 25 years in a trial expected to begin this spring — is not just about law enforcement criminalizing rap music. It is about how Atlanta eats its own to keep the sunny vision of the Black Mecca alive.” [New York]

Pull Quote

“If I heard something else that could be a threat, honestly, I just wouldn’t tell anyone.”

— A 13-year-old who reported a suspected school shooting and was harshly punished for it, as told by her mother to The Dallas Morning News