Featured Story

How did Mark Robinson go from having a dead-end job and a habit of posting hateful screeds on social media to a serious candidate for North Carolina governor? It started with a viral video of Robinson, the state’s lieutenant governor, orating about gun rights during a Greensboro City Council debate over whether to cancel a local firearms show in the wake of the 2018 Parkland massacre. [The Atlantic]

Supreme Court

Last month, the Supreme Court agreed to take up a challenge to the ATF’s ghost gun rule, a regulation imposed as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to curb the sale of homemade, untraceable firearms that are frequently used in crimes. The challenge centers on a requirement for dealers of “ready to build” ghost gun kits to add serial numbers to some parts and conduct background checks on prospective buyers — but legal experts say the case could jeopardize a host of laws governing the manufacture and sale of guns.

A ruling against the federal government could broaden Second Amendment protections, expanding them “from the right to own and carry a firearm to the right to make firearms and to sell them,” said Timothy Lytton, a law professor at Georgia State University. Such an outcome could do away with bans or restrictions on ghost guns in California, New Jersey, and at least 11 other states. The Trace’s Alain Stephens has the story.

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What to Know Today

In 2022, just before Chicago schools let out for winter break, two students were killed and two others were wounded in a shooting at Benito Juarez High School. In the hours after the shooting, according to public documents and law enforcement sources, the school principal and some staffers stymied the police investigation. The episode highlights long-standing tensions between Chicago Public Schools and the Police Department over violence on school grounds. [Illinois Answers Project

Organized vigilante groups conducting “patrols” along the southern U.S. border have forged relationships with local and federal law enforcement. The vigilantes, who frequently film themselves for social media, have detained and pointed guns at migrants. Experts say the collaboration between law enforcement and these groups elevates the risk of violence. [Texas Observer and Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting]  

Wilson “Woody” Phillips, the National Rifle Association’s longtime treasurer whose tenure coincided with decades of financial misconduct at the gun group, appears to be near a settlement with New York Attorney General Letitia James. In February, a jury found Phillips guilty of violating nonprofit laws and ordered him to pay the NRA $2 million. (His boss, former NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre, was ordered to pay $4.3 million.) A second, penalty phase of the trial is to be held in Manhattan before Judge Joel M. Cohen in July. A recent filing in the case states that James and Phillips have the outlines of a settlement, but provides no details. Sean Delany, an attorney who formerly oversaw the charities bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office, said the filing suggests that James’s office and Phillips may be negotiating over that $2 million award. Conceivably, he said, James could reduce that amount in exchange for something. “You don’t have to look far to see what the AG would be looking for, right, evidence against LaPierre such that LaPierre would have to pay a higher penalty,” Delany said. — Will Van Sant 

Since it began using them in 2018, San Diego has obtained more gun violence restraining orders — judge-approved intervention measures to remove guns from people in crisis — than any other county in California. The city recently won its first conviction for violation of such an order, with the subject sentenced to a year of probation and 30 days in a work furlough program. [The San Diego Union-Tribune

Police officers on opposite sides of the country this month shot and killed two men within moments of encountering them — Roger Fortson in Okaloosa County, Florida, and Kristopher Handy in Anchorage, Alaska — who each held downturned guns. The shootings have renewed questions about when a person with a gun poses a “reasonable threat” in an era when Americans are increasingly armed. [NPR

The New York Police Department is planning to hire recent public school graduates to bolster the ranks of its school safety agents. The position is akin to the department’s cadet program, an NYPD spokesperson said, and would provide job training and a pathway to becoming a full-time officer. But some students say that without a focus on conflict mediation and restorative practices, putting more police in schools will only make them feel less safe. [Gothamist

Data Point

11 — the number of guns seized at New York City schools in the current school year through April 28, out of a total of 4,975 weapons. That’s down from the same period last year, when authorities recovered 5,618 weapons. [Gothamist]


Senior news writer Jennifer Mascia’s piece “Dangerous Homes: Guns and Domestic Violence Exact a Deadly Toll on Kids,” which was published in partnership with USA TODAY, won a 2024 Deadline Club Award, designated by the New York City chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Two other Trace stories were named as finalists for the Deadline Club’s competition. The Trace was also recently named a 2024 finalist for a National Magazine Award in Reporting for “One of America’s Favorite Handguns Is Allegedly Firing on Its Owners,” by Champe Barton and Tom Jackman, published in partnership with The Washington Post. Mensah M. Dean’s “Hope and Disenchantment as Police Flood Philly’s Most Violent Areas” was nominated for a National Association of Black Journalists’ Salute to Excellence award, for which the winners will be announced this summer.

Depth Perception, a newsletter about longform journalism, also spoke with Mascia about “Long Shadow: In Guns We Trust” and the stories about gun violence from the past decade that have stuck with her. 

And we’re pleased to welcome two new journalists to The Trace’s team: Ava Sasani recently started as the inaugural staffer for our Gun Violence Data Hub, and Alma Beauvais joined The Trace last month as our first-ever editorial assistant.