What To Know Today

Veteran suicides decreased in 2019, but the proportion of gun deaths ticked up. Overall, veterans suicide rate fell by 7 percent from 2018 to 2019, according to the most recently available data from the Department of Veterans Affairs’ annual National Veterans Suicide Prevention. The 2019 total of 6,261 veteran suicide deaths was 399 lower than in 2018, representing the biggest single-year decrease in the adjusted suicide rate since 2001. The growing role of firearms: Guns accounted for 70.2 percent of suicides by men veterans (up from 69.9 percent in 2018) and 49.8 percent of women veterans (up from 41.1 percent in 2018). From 2001 to 2019, the rates of gun suicide among veterans increased by 2.7 percent overall, but the split between men (+2.9 percent) and women (+12.8 percent) stands out among the findings. In the same time frame, gun suicides declined by 4.8 percent among the general population. “Firearm safety in the context of suicide prevention remains a highly salient and evidence-based aspect of veteran suicide prevention, yet we have thus far continued to witness proportions of 50-70 percent for firearm-related veteran suicide,” the reports reads. The report notes that this and next year “will bring to fruition the implementation and delivery of a comprehensive public health campaign addressing firearm safety in the context of veteran suicide prevention.” [If you are having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24 hours a day: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.]

Biden officially pulls his nomination of David Chipman to lead the ATF. “Republicans in Congress have made clear that they intend to use gun crime as a political talking point instead of taking serious steps to address it,” President Joe Biden said in a statement lamenting the failed bid, adding: “That’s why they’ve moved in lockstep to block David Chipman’s confirmation.” Left unsaid was that Democrats didn’t have all 50 votes they needed to secure Chipman’s nomination in the face of unanimous GOP opposition. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaski said the administration was in “active discussions” with Chipman about having him take a separate job in government. In a statement, Chipman thanked the White House for the nomination and said it was still essential to confirm a director “who is accountable to the public and places no special interests before the safety of our children and our communities.”

A judge ruled against two longtime NRA members in the New York dissolution case. Fearing the rank-and-file National Rifle Association members are not being heard, Francis Tait and Mario Aguirre sought to intervene and back some actions brought by Attorney General Letitia James they said were necessary for reform, while warding off the NRA’s potential dissolution. Citing conflicts, the members also wanted the law firm of NRA outside counsel William A. Brewer III booted from the case. Manhattan Judge Joel M. Cohen praised the arguments put forward, but found the two proposed intervenors lacked legal standing, saying that he had no way to know how widely, if at all, the NRA’s five million members shared their views. Cohen said the relationship between the Brewer firm and the NRA was “fraught with particularly difficult issues” that could become relevant as the case evolves, but said only a client, not two individual NRA members, could seek the firm’s dismissal. Cohen added that he was open to discussing with the parties ways for the members to be heard “at the appropriate time and in an organized fashion.” He said such input would be particularly useful if the question of dissolution, which legal observers consider a remote outcome, ever becomes a matter for serious consideration.— Will Van Sant, staff writer

Dick Heller sues D.C. again — this time over ghost guns. The city resident has been involved in numerous lawsuits against the District, including in the landmark 2008 case bearing his name in which the Supreme Court held that the 2nd Amendment guaranteed an individual’s right to keep and bear arms in the home. Now, Heller is suing the municipality over bans on home firearm manufacture and a 2020 law barring the possession and registration of ghost guns and kits that can be purchased and used to assemble a finished firearm. Two other city residents joined Heller in calling the 2020 ghost gun ban broad and vague. From The Trace: Contributor Mark Obbie profiled Heller in a 2016 piece about his long-running and unfinished quest to overturn gun regulations.

Data Point

20 percent — the increase in sales by American Outdoor Brands in its latest quarter compared to the same time last year. The company, one of three publicly traded U.S. gun manufacturers, reported net sales of $60.8 million for the quarter in new financial filings. [PR Newswire]