Two far-right extremists in separate U.S. prisons recently made headlines for their use of Telegram channels from behind bars — one for allegedly dealing guns through the app, the other for employing it to organize militias across all 50 states.

On Tuesday, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg announced that a Texas man was charged with dealing weapons and firearm components while in federal custody. Hayden Espinosa is accused of selling weapons and firearm parts, including to an undercover New York Police Department officer, via a Telegram channel called “3D Amendment” while he served time in a prison in Louisiana. Prosecutors said 24-year-old Espinosa was “motivated by Neo-Nazi and white supremacist ideologies” and had been in contact with the man who perpetrated the racist massacre at a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, two years ago. Bragg described the case as a “confluence of guns and extremism” and called it “very, very disturbing.”

The second case concerns a January 6 rioter currently being held in a Brooklyn detention center. WIRED reported that Edward “Jake” Lang, who is accused of swinging a baseball bat at police during the Capitol insurrection, spearheaded the launch of state-specific militia groups on Telegram last week from prison. (Media Matters first reported on the militia network’s launch.) Collectively, per WIRED, the militias function as a pro-gun organization focused on potential “civil unrest” around the November election. Extremism experts say the Telegram groups likely number around 2,500 members — and though the network is still relatively small, its size, violent rhetoric, and focus on arms “is a serious cause for concern.”

Read more on what guns mean to extremists from The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia.

What to Know Today

Crime rates fell sharply in the first three months of 2024, new FBI data shows. The murder rate dropped by 26 percent, and overall violent crime dropped by 15 percent; the decreases come after a major year-over-year decline in homicides in 2023. Following the release of the 2024 statistics, a group of law enforcement officials announced the formation of Police Leaders for Community Safety, an organization that plans to push for stronger gun laws and argue that Congress has not done enough to protect public safety. [NBC/Roll Call

New York City’s Rockaway peninsula “urgently” needs a trauma care center, a health care task force said in a new report. The task force found that between October 2021 and September 2022, nearly 700 medical emergencies, including 57 gunshot wounds, would have benefitted from a trauma center there, and that many patients travel 10 miles to get to the closest trauma facility. Rockaway is located in Queens, a “trauma desert” where shooting victims fare worse than those in areas with more capable treatment facilities. [THE CITY/Gothamist

Newtown High School’s class of 2024 graduated in Connecticut this week. For dozens of the seniors, the ceremony came with the unique burden of having survived a school shooting — the knowledge that they were walking the stage without the 20 classmates who were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School 12 years ago. Five graduating survivors discussed how the massacre continues to shape their lives, and how they feel about leaving the protective “bubble” the community formed around them in the wake of the tragedy. [Associated Press

After the 2021 attack on Oxford High School in Michigan, local County Prosecutor Karen McDonald worked with gun safety experts, police officials, medical professionals, and parents of the Oxford shooting victims to research the root causes of gun violence and the best ways to prevent it. This week, McDonald announced the findings — and the launch of a foundation to put them into action. [Detroit Free Press/Michigan Advance

A federal appeals court upheld a California law banning gun and ammunition sales at fairgrounds and other state property, ruling against a group of firearm sellers and advocacy groups that claimed the measure violated both the First and Second amendments. The decision comes amid a larger legal debate over the limits of state gun restrictions. [Los Angeles Times

An off-duty security guard shot and killed a teenager who was trying to exchange or return a malfunctioning airsoft gun to a sporting goods store in Washington state. The guard, who did not work for the store, said he mistook the toy weapon for a real gun and that he believed 17-year-old Hazrat Ali Rohani and two other teenagers were planning to rob the store. The teenagers said they repeatedly shouted that they had a BB gun. Surveillance camera footage showed that the guard pinned one of the teenagers to the ground and then shot Rohani “multiple times.” [The Seattle Times/The Guardian/ABC]


The Sandy Hook Generation Reinvigorates the Gun Safety Movement: The final episode of “Long Shadow: In Guns We Trust” explores the effects of school shootings and active shooter drills on a generation of kids who grew up in a climate of fear. Some of them are now leading the gun safety movement. (May 2024)

Housekeeping: The Trace’s staff will be out of the office on Monday, June 17, to observe Juneteenth. The Bulletin will return Tuesday morning.