What To Know Today

Gun reform group launches first major ad buy in Georgia Senate run-off. Brady PAC is spending $100,000 against Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler in her contest with Democrat Raphael Warnock, according to Federal Election Commission filings flagged by the Washington Free Beacon. The National Rifle Association’s super PAC has already spent $1.5 million on the two races on January 5 that will determine control of the U.S. Senate. Georgia political experts told the Free Beacon that the imbalance toward gun rights groups favoring Republicans wasn’t surprising since the issue was a bigger vote motivator for conservatives in the state. 

A new kind of armed vigilante group in Utah. On June 29, a racial justice protest in Provo, Utah, turned violent when demonstrators surrounded a car and someone shot and wounded the driver. Forty-seven-year old Casey Robertson tells KUER, Utah’s NPR station, that the event inspired him and his friends to begin showing up to protests armed. Thus began Utah Citizens Alarm, a vigilante group with the stated goal of preventing property destruction during civil strife. Black Lives Matter activists and other critics, however, have described UCA’s motives as far more menacing. They argue that by regularly bringing guns to demonstrations, UCA has effectively curbed protest in the state. John Sullivan, who in May started Insurgence USA — an activist group that organized many of the protests — told KUER that his members have also started bringing guns to demonstrations after frequent confrontations with UCA. “A phenomenon to their own:” Utah and other Mountain West states have a long history of far-right, largely white militia groups. While critics have said UCA is a part of that trend, Robertson says his group has no ideological or racial motivation, and is instead focused on protests (so much so that they fly drones to observe demonstrators.) Mark Pitcavage, a far-right expert with the Anti-Defamation League, says that group’s like Robertson’s are unique among armed groups or militias in their lack of overriding anti-government or far-right rhetoric. “These new armed vigilante groups are essentially a phenomenon to their own.”

“I do not feel safe:” Mayor quits in face of violent threats over mask mandate. In her resignation letter, Joyce Warshaw of Dodge City, Kansas, said she was “hopeful in removing myself this anger, accusations and abuse will not fall on anyone else and will calm down.” Warshaw said the tenor of vitriol against her took a dark turn after the publication of a USA Today piece that discussed her support for a mask mandate in the town of 28,000 people — where 1 in 10 county residents had tested positive for the virus. Police are investigating the threats. Backlash over pandemic public health measures and election certification have brought numerous threats of violence against elected officials this year.

Former Texas cop arrested for threatening man at gunpoint in baseless election fraud investigation. Mark Aguirre, a former Houston police captain, was one of more than 20 investigators hired by Liberty Center for God and Country, a Texas conservative group, to look into election conspiracy theories. On October 16, Aguirre allegedly ran a man off the road and held him at gunpoint. He faces up to 20 years in prison for a charge of assault with a deadly weapon.

Data Point

54 percent — the share of local police departments that require written documentation after an officer displays their gun. Starting next month, California will require all departments to provide a record of every time an officer pulls their firearm. [Bureau of Justice Statistics, #Prof. Justin Nix]