What To Know Today

Is gun control good politics for national Democrats? The party line on that question has shifted over the past two decades — Democrats took back the House by running pro-gun candidates in red districts in 2006, but by the 2020 campaign had wholly embraced stricter gun laws in a bid to peel off suburban women and moderates. After the party’s down-ballot losses in November, the debate about whether pushing gun restrictions is a smart progressive strategy is alive again among the Twitterati: 

  • No, argues Matt Yglesias in a post that circulated last week. He notes that the political capital that Democrats have expended since Sandy Hook hasn’t yielded even basic federal reforms like expanded background checks, which at any rate would not prevent the mass shootings that drive national responses to gun violence. And while individual gun restrictions poll well, the more elemental choice between regulating gun ownership and preserving gun rights favors Republicans, given the disproportionate role of rural voters in determining control of the Senate.
  • Yes, says journalist (and former gun violence data wonk) Ted Alcorn, who points to counter-examples of politicians who’ve prevailed in conservative or swing states despite their prominent support for closing loopholes. He makes the case that Democrats’ backing of gun violence prevention is a response to sustained grassroots momentum, and that the party’s policy options include not just controlling gun access but also funding community-led violence interruption programs with the proven potential to save lives. 

Donald Trump Jr. reportedly wants to run the NRA. Business Insider cites two sources close to the president about his son’s interest in taking over the top position at the crisis-plagued group. “They’re looking for a franchise for Trump Jr.,” said one. But a person close to Trump Jr. said he hasn’t discussed a bid to unseat current National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre, which would have to surmount the loyalists the incumbent has installed at the gun group: The NRA’s 76-member board elects the CEO and it would take three-fourths of a smaller executive committee to boot the current boss. Pressure on another front: Mother Jones reports on the more extreme gun-rights movement building while the NRA is bogged down by legal battles and mounting deficits. “I think what’s going to happen is, as the NRA ends up being pretty crippled for a while, there are other organizations that are going to step forward,” said the head of the hard-line Virginia Citizens Defense League. 

A sixth protester sues Austin, Texas, over police use of “less lethal” rounds. A woman is seeking damages for injuries she suffered when officers allegedly shot her with a “dangerous projectile” during demonstrations against police violence this summer. There are at least five other outstanding federal suits against the city over similar incidents. The city’s police chief vowed to the City Council that his department would stop using the rounds. But in partnership with public radio station KUT, our Alain Stephens unearthed a purchase contract showing that police went on to place orders for thousands more of them. Related: Experts told us in June that less lethal weapons can still kill and were likely to escalate conflict.

Fatal shooting of 15-month old boy underscores D.C.’s worst year for gun violence in more than a decade. Carmelo Duncan died after unknown assailants fired up to 10 rounds into the car his father was driving. The victim’s 8-year-old brother was also in the vehicle. Duncan was the youngest of nearly 200 people killed in homicides this year in the District, the highest total since 2005. “While our leaders refuse to take action, thousands of our Black youth are leaving too soon,” declared the Community Justice Action Fund in a statement.

Data Point

40 — the number of trans Americans who have died by violence this year. It’s the highest number since at least 2017 and about three-fourths have involved firearms. [The Advocate]