What To Know Today

The number of domestic terrorism cases the FBI is pursuing more than doubled since September. Agents are currently pursuing about 2,000 cases, bureau Director Christoper Wray said yesterday during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on domestic terrorism and the Capitol insurrection. That’s up from about 1,000 cases in September and 1,400 at the end of the year. Wray also defended the FBI’s actions ahead of the January 6 attack, and said agents had found no evidence of anarchist or antifa involvement in the attacks, as some Trump allies have baselessly asserted. 

House and Senate legislators introduce universal background check bills. The companion measures would require background checks for all private firearm sales and most transfers. Such a policy has consistently found high levels of bipartisan support in polling. The House bill is all but assured to pass this year, as it did in February 2019. But Democrats would need 10 GOP votes to pass the Senate version, absent an elimination of the filibuster. Pat Toomey, co-sponsor of a background check bill that failed in 2013, and Susan Collins are the only Republicans still in the Senate who voted for the previous effort. But Mitt Romney, Mike Braun, and Rob Portman are among the GOP senators who have indicated support for expanding background checks in the past. 

Democrats also introduced bills to fix two gun-related policy loopholes. Senator Amy Klobuchar and Representative Debbie Dingell reintroduced legislation that would prohibit convicted abusers who are not married, living with, or coparenting with their victims (the so-called boyfriend loophole) from having guns. Separately, Representative Jim Clyburn reintroduced a bill that would end the policy that allows federally licensed dealers to proceed with a gun sale if a background check takes more than three business days to complete — the so-called Charleston loophole. The new bill extends the review period to 10 days.

Los Angeles to hire, train more violence intervention workers. The City Council voted to approve an initial allocation of $32 million of the tens of millions cut from the police department’s budget last year. The vote will steer $14 million toward alternatives to policing, including $7.75 million to fund an “unarmed response” program for homeless and nonviolent calls and $2.15 million to add more street outreach workers. Currently, about 120 violence interrupters patrol the city’s streets each day in order to mediate neighborhood conflicts, and the Los Angeles Intervention Coalition, a group of gang intervention organizations, has been pushing the city to hire more to reduce the strain. As we reported yesterday, the LAIC has also advocated for higher wages for violence interrupters, who often work for low pay.

The record gun buying surge continues. Americans purchased another 1.3 million guns last month. The seasonally adjusted figure includes more than 780,000 handguns and 560,000 rifles and shotguns. But the 10 percent increase from February 2020 also represented the smallest year-over-year increase since the pandemic started. You can follow the historic gun sales boom with our tracker, which also provides a snapshot of the numbers for your state.

Data Point

18 — the number of open investigations into police shootings in Maine, some of which date back over two years, according to a report on the growing backlog of cases in the state. [CBS13]