Good morning, Bulletin readers. Because federal law prohibits the ATF and local law enforcement agencies from releasing the results of crime gun traces, it’s usually impossible to see where traffickers get their wares. But Trace reporter Alex Yablon got ahold of a cache of raw trace records that shows how individual gun dealers contribute to the criminal flow of weapons. Also in today’s briefing: developments in some of the stories we’ve been watching all summer, including the NRA’s suspicious campaign spending activity, the battle over 3D-printed guns, and a landmark Second Amendment ruling in Hawaii.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
New from The Trace: The NRA has drawn another FEC complaint from a campaign finance watchdog. The Campaign Legal Center, along with the gun-violence-prevention group Giffords, filed a formal complaint on Monday with the Federal Election Commission regarding allegations of illegal campaign activity. One basis for the complaint: An audio clip, obtained by the Daily Beast last week, in which Matt Rosendale, the Republican nominee in a potentially pivotal Senate race in Montana, can be heard saying that the National Rifle Association’s top lobbyist assured him that the gun group would back his campaign. The other: Election spending flagged by our NRA Campaign Spending Tracker, which showed that the gun group is continuing to use a consulting firm that spurred an earlier complaint from the Campaign Legal Center. The company, Starboard Strategic, is functionally the same as a firm retained by Rosendale. In an investigation co-published with Politico Magazine this summer, Mike Spies laid out why the arrangement may flout campaign spending limits and prohibitions against unfair coordination.
Another scoop from Mike Spies: The actor Tom Selleck has suddenly stepped down from the NRA board. Selleck had served on the group’s board since 2005. “He has nothing to do with policy,” his publicist said in response to our reporting. “He’s never been active on the board or anything the NRA engages in,” she added, though evidence Mike gathered shows otherwise.
And here’s your Trace three-fer for Wednesday: Leaked ATF documents show how traffickers exploit lax sellers and weak laws. Alex Yablon dug into leaked records of more than 3,000 guns recovered by Mexican police and traced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The 11 traffickers who appear most frequently on the list of crime guns reviewed by The Trace were each tied to 10 or more weapons recovered in Mexico. Nine of those purchasers got most — or, in some case, all — of their guns from a single gun store. But there’s no indication that the stores ever faced punishment for their part in sustaining the “river of iron” that pumps American guns across the border, fueling violence in our southern neighbor.
A 3D gun company is expanding its lawsuit against a group of state and local officials. On Monday, a pro-gun-rights group added four new defendants to a lawsuit alleging that a group of public officials violated the First and Second Amendments by seeking to block the release of their gun blueprints this summer. Meanwhile, a bill banning 3D-printed guns is advancing in New Jersey. The measure, which would make it illegal to manufacture untraceable firearms, was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday. ICYMI: Washington, D.C., proposed its own ban on “ghost guns” earlier this week.
Hawaii officials want to overturn a ruling that the open carry of guns is protected by the Second Amendment. In July, a three-judge panel ruled that laws banning the open carry of firearms are unconstitutional. Now, a group of state and local officials is asking to send the case before a larger panel for a retrial. What legal experts say: When the decision came down this summer, legal scholars told The Trace that there’s reason to believe it would be overturned if the full 9th Circuit Court of Appeals considers the case. “Here in this 59-page opinion, there’s not one place where the majority looks at the state’s interest in public safety to decide whether it’s sufficient to justify this restriction,” said David Yassky, a professor at Pace Law School. “That’s a core failing.”
In Santa Fe, Texas, shooting victims’ families are asking for the school board to resign. Four months after 10 people were killed at the town high school, families of the victims criticized the school board and superintendent for failing to protect their children. “All I have is my son here in my bag because safety wasn’t an issue,” said the mother of Chris Stone, whose ashes she carried to a recent meeting.
Vermont launched an anonymous collection program for bump stocks. Starting this week, Vermont State Police will collect bump stocks from residents ahead of October 1, when the state’s ban on the devices goes into effect. Under the law, any person in possession of a bump stock will be subject to a one-year prison sentence and/or a $1,000 fine. “Right now, voluntary compliance is the preferred method, and we want to give people the option and the means to do this,” a State Police captain said.
ONE LAST THING
Medical students are mobilizing for gun reform. At 40 medical campuses on Monday, hundreds of doctors, nurses, medical students, and other staff gathered to call for action on what they’re calling a nationwide public health crisis. The actions were organized by Stand SAFE (Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic), an advocacy group started by a medical student and professor at Stanford University. “As medical students being trained to protect our patients’ physical and mental health and wellbeing, we were struck by the lack of medical education available on such a devastating and important issue,” one of the founders said in a statement.
Since the Las Vegas massacre, a growing chorus of medical associations and individual physicians have urged gun reform. At its annual meeting this summer, the American Medical Association endorsed an unprecedented slate of gun reform measures, including licensing and registration for all gun owners, red flag laws to reduce suicides, and a ban on assault-style weapons.