What To Know Today

Ex-NRA CFO cites last-minute “surprises” for refusing to sign 2019 federal tax disclosure. Craig Spray spoke about the document yesterday during testimony in the Texas court hearing the group’s bankruptcy case. In early November last year, just as the deadline to file the disclosure neared, Spray said he learned that three National Rifle Association board members had been flying on the group’s dime in violation of controls he’d enacted to reform what he described as a “Wayne said” culture, a reference to CEO Wayne LaPierre. An angry Spray sent emails to NRA leaders after he learned of the flights, saying in one, “I am disappointed in all of you,” and in another, “I can’t emphasize what a breakdown this is.” Spray also said that revelations of improper benefits paid to executives, including LaPierre, were hastily included in the filing and he was prevented from reviewing relevant backup material. In the case of the $300,000 in benefits disclosed as having been improperly paid to LaPierre in 2019, Spray said the NRA’s outside counsel William Brewer blocked him from substantiating the figure. With Spray unwilling to put his name on the federal filing, LaPierre ultimately signed the document. According to evidence introduced in the case, LaPierre fired Spray in late January after keeping him and other top NRA officials in the dark about the group’s bankruptcy plan. Dissident NRA board member Phillip Journey also testified Tuesday and offered his own take on the NRA’s top-down leadership, saying the group had become “Wayne’s kingdom.” — Will Van Sant, staff writer

Developments in the shooting of Daunte Wright. Here’s what’s happened since Sunday’s fatal traffic stop:

  • The officer who shot Wright resigned. Shortly after the resignation of Kim Potter, Police Chief Tim Gannon also turned in his badge. A decision on whether to charge Potter could come as early as today.
  • Police blame accidental weapon use — an explanation that’s been invoked before. Potter said she thought she had drawn her stun gun when she took out her service weapon and fatally shot Wright. Mother Jones spoke to an expert who identified at least 17 other cases since 2001 where officers who shot someone said they meant to pull a stun gun instead. That expert said the explanation has a “simple root cause”: “They designed the Taser like a gun.” 
  • Wright’s family rejects the police narrative. “Don’t tell us it’s an accident,” a lawyer for the family said. “An accident is knocking over a glass of milk. It’s not an accident to take your gun out of the holster.” 
  • Traffic stop (again) → fatal police shooting. Police say Wright’s expired plates prompted the initial traffic stop. Past studies have found that Black Americans are far more likely to be stopped on the road than their white counterparts. Other high-profile police killings have also started with traffic stops for minor infractions, including the death of Philando Castile in 2016 in Minneapolis.
  • “He should be alive today.” Vice President Kamala Harris briefly addressed the shooting during a symposium on Black maternal health, adding that “law enforcement must be held to the highest standards of accountability.”

152 U.S. mayors call for Senate action on background check bills. In an open letter, the Democratic, Republican, and independent executives of cities across the nation called for a vote on House-passed measures that would expand checks to almost all private sales and transfers and address the so-called Charleston loophole. Both measures face an uphill battle in the Senate. “As mayors, it is our top priority to ensure public safety; protecting our residents from gun violence is at the very heart of this commitment,” they write.

Study finds a rise in pediatric firearm injuries during the pandemic. Using data from the Gun Violence Archive, researchers with the Children’s National Health System and George Washington University found that the rates of firearm injuries for children under 12 rose from an average of 2.8 to 5.1 per million from March through August 2020, compared to the same timeframe of the previous four years.

A memorial for gun violence victims comes to the National Mall. The gun reform group Giffords led the effort to install the marker yesterday. The memorial includes approximately 40,000 white flowers to commemorate the people killed each year by firearms and will remain in place through Friday.

Data Point

58 percent — the share of Black respondents who said they were afraid of being killed by the police, compared with 34 percent who said they feared being killed by criminals, according to a new preprint looking at the racial divide in fear of the police. Sixteen percent of white respondents feared being killed by either police or criminals. [Researchers Justin Pickett, Amanda Graham, and Frank Cullen]