What To Know Today

Listen: ‘Our (machine) gun problem.’ Last month, Alain Stephens reported on the rise of the auto sear, a small plastic or metal device that can convert popular guns into automatic weapons capable of firing upwards of 1,200 rounds a minute. The investigation found that guns equipped with auto sears had been used in hundreds of crimes, including murders and mass shootings. This week, Alain sat down with the team at Vox’s Today, Explained podcast to share more findings. Give it a listen here.

Gun thefts are on the rise in the nation’s largest cities. The Wall Street Journal found a 29 percent increase in the number of stolen guns reported to the police in the last two years. In Atlanta, the figure for stolen guns increased from 1,859 in 2019 to 2,758 last year. In Houston, the number of guns stolen from vehicles was 3,695, compared to 2,820 the year before. Of the 12 cities that provided data to the Journal, only Phoenix saw a decline in gun thefts last year. Related from The Trace: Our 2018 “Missing Pieces” series looked at how gun theft from legal owners was quietly fueling violent crime across America.

Americans bought an estimated 1.35 million guns in April. That was nearly identical to the previous two months, but down 22 percent from last April. This seasonally adjusted figure includes about 820,000 handguns and 540,000 long guns (rifles and shotguns). Check out our gun sales tracker, which analyzes FBI background-check data. 

Ex-Philadelphia officer charged with murder for shooting 12-year-old from behind. Edsaul Mendoza faces two counts of murder and one count of voluntary manslaughter over the incident that left Thomas Siderio dead. On March 1, officers were investigating a suspected gun violation when they approached two minors, including the victim. After a bullet was shot into the officers’ car, police say, Mendoza shot Siderio after pursuing him on foot. An unsealed grand jury document revealed new details of the incident. Citing unreleased video footage, prosecutors say Siderio dropped a gun some 40 feet before he was shot and that he was on the ground facing away when the officer shot him. “He was essentially facedown on the sidewalk,” said Philly DA Larry Krasner. 

Oath Keeper linked to plot to ferry guns into D.C. pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy. Brian Ulrich is one of 11 members of the far-right group facing the charge, and the second to plead guilty. He also signaled on Friday that he would cooperate with prosecutors. The Justice Department indictment against the 11 defendants alleges that Ulrich discussed bringing firearms and ammunition to a hotel just outside Washington as a “quick reaction force” contingency plan to bring arms into the city on January 6.

Biden ATF nominee lands prominent endorsements ahead of tough confirmation fight. Steve Dettelbach, the president’s second pick to lead the agency that has lacked a Senate-confirmed head since 2015, picked up support from a group of esteemed legal figures. That came shortly after a group of surgical pediatricians similarly gave their assent. On the other side of the ledger: One of the high-profile critics of the Dettelbach pick, Philip Smith — the leader of the National African American Gun Associationtold The Reload he was disappointed Biden had not given the nomination to Marvin Richardson, who was acting ATF director until he was recently demoted.

Data Point

3 — the number of shootings near youth sporting facilities across the country in the last week. In the latest incident, three people were injured on Sunday when gunfire erupted near a middle school sports field in Manassas, Virginia. [ABC News]