What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: The secret footage of NRA chief Wayne LaPierre’s botched elephant hunt. In 2013, the CEO of the National Rifle Association and his wife, Susan, traveled to Botswana, where they hoped to show the gun group’s members that they had the grit to hunt African bush elephants. The trip was filmed by a crew from an NRA-sponsored television series. But the program never aired, according to sources and records, because of concerns that it could turn into a PR fiasco. The Trace’s Mike Spies obtained a copy of the video, which shows LaPierre struggling to kill the elephant, shooting it several times in the wrong place before another person delivers the fatal shot. Published exclusively by The Trace and The New Yorker, the video, paired with new revelations on LaPierre’s extravagant spending, contradicts the NRA executive’s carefully cultivated image as an authentic champion of American self-reliance who has railed against out-of-touch “elites” for decades. As the group weathers an existential crisis of its own making, which began with revelations of rampant self-dealing first reported in 2019, and extends to an ongoing legal fight with the New York attorney general and a bankruptcy trial, the investigation offers a glimpse of the stage-managed, insular, and privileged life of the NRA’s top official. You can read the story — and see the embedded video — here.

Conservationists decry shooting of elephant later added to endangered list. “Savannah elephants were just declared endangered by international experts, and these intelligent beings certainly shouldn’t be used as paper targets by an inept marksman,” the international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity told USA Today, echoing the reaction from similar groups.

Private autopsy finds that Andrew Brown Jr. was shot in the back of the head as FBI announces probe. The 42-year-old Black man was killed last week in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, while officers were attempting to serve a search warrant. Brown’s family have called for greater transparency from local police, who they said showed them only a 20-second snippet of bodycam footage from the incident. An independent autopsy conducted at the request of the family found that Brown was shot five times, once in the back of the head and four times in the arm. A witness to the shooting said last week that Brown was driving away while an officer shot him from behind. Separately: The FBI said it had opened a civil rights investigation into the shooting, and a coalition of Black clergy called on the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office to take over the case from the local District Attorney’s Office.

California reverses course, says it will release data to state-funded gun violence research center. Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that his office would release state gun data to researchers at the UC Davis Firearm Violence Research Center. The center’s director, Garen Wintemute, recently told reporters that the office under former state AG Xavier Becerra had withheld information and made it increasingly difficult to conduct research. Bonta, who became AG after Becerra moved to the Biden administration, also said his office would conduct a review to make state Department of Justice data more accessible. “Transparency is key to increasing trust between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” he said in a statement.

California mayors press Governor Gavin Newsom to ramp up state funding for gun violence prevention. In a letter, the 18 leaders pushed the governor to triple California’s commitment under its California Violence Intervention and Prevention grant program. They’re calling for a total of $114 million this year for the program that disburses funds to community-focused anti-violence programs, many of which have been linked to large decreases in violence in urban centers.

Dallas hopes that adding city lights will reduce crime. The city plans to brighten more than 1,000 public streetlights and add 200 new ones in currently unlit areas. Past studies have shown that increasing lighting in areas with elevated levels of violence can help reduce violent crime. Mayor Eric Johnson tells The Dallas Morning News that the addition of scores of new lights in one neighborhood late last year coincided with a 16 percent year-over-year drop in crime in the first three months of the year. “It’s still early in the year,” he said, “but this is an extraordinarily promising start.”

Data Point

32 percent — the increase in unintentional shootings of children since the start of the pandemic. [The Houston Chronicle]