Today, President Joe Biden is expected to announce the creation of a federal office focused solely on preventing gun violence. It’s a first-of-its-kind move, The Trace’s Chip Brownlee reported, that gun reform advocates have been urging Biden to make since before he was inaugurated. While it’s not yet clear what authority and responsibilities the president will grant the office, its establishment signals a heightened focus on the domestic crisis.
But America’s gun violence crisis is not isolated within the country’s borders. Data obtained by The Trace last October shows that American gunmakers produce most of the weapons driving cartel violence. An overwhelming proportion of crime guns in Ontario, the Canadian province with the most robust tracing capabilities, originate in the U.S. As Bloomberg detailed in July, legal exports of American-made firearms, particularly semiautomatic weapons, have increased dramatically in recent years — an amplification that was accompanied by a growing number of U.S.-made guns linked to violent crime across the globe.
America’s export of violence goes beyond the commodities themselves. Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware reported in Foreign Affairs this week that the spread of American far-right extremism has become such a threat that close allies like Australia and the United Kingdom have designated some U.S. groups and citizens as terrorists. The white supremacist who killed scores of people in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019 selected his weapons based on how his choice might affect U.S. politics. Young shooters in Brazil, The Washington Post reported, have adopted the iconography of American hate groups. Last fall, a gunman espousing racist, homophobic, and antisemitic views killed two people at a gay bar in Slovakia, citing the racist massacre in Buffalo, New York, as inspiration for his attack.
It’s not the first time that American hate or American guns have entered the world stage. But their recent acceleration and convergence is notable — as is Biden’s apparent reluctance to do anything significant about it. The president has yet to fulfill a campaign promise to strengthen oversight of gun exports, and civil rights groups havecriticized his plan to counter domestic extremism as a rehash of unsound post-9/11 tactics. As Hoffman and Ware write, “At base, this is an American problem, and it therefore requires American leadership to solve it.”
From The Trace
Since before his inauguration, gun reform groups have been calling for a federal office focused solely on stopping shootings.
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What to Know This Week
National Rifle Association board member Willes Lee spent years defending the pro-gun group in court and championing its top bosses. Now, Lee has publicly turned against the NRA’s leadership, claiming in social media posts that he was retaliated against for not complying when “told to do things and to keep the real reason secret.” The denunciations prompted the New York Attorney General’s Office to ask for a second crack at deposing Lee in its lawsuit over the NRA’s alleged “self-dealing, mismanagement and waste of charitable assets.” — Will Van Sant
More than 80 percent of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, support gun restrictions for people convicted of domestic violence, according to a new poll of 20,191 adults. [The 19th]
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham updated her administration’s temporary gun carry ban in Albuquerque, narrowing the restriction to playgrounds and public parks, after a federal judge blocked the broader suspension. In the wake of the order, violent threats against Lujan Grisham, her family, and staff proliferated on social media, including in the comments section of a website owned by a state representative. [CNN/Source New Mexico]
Hunter Biden’s indictment on firearm charges elicited mixed reactions from prominent pro-gun groups. While Gun Owners of America responded to the news with glee, many others, like the NRA, essentially responded with silence. The Firearms Policy Coalition, meanwhile, reshared a social media post offering to connect the president’s son with “gun lawyers.” [Slate]
Illinois became the first state in the country to fully eliminate cash bail as a condition of pretrial release this week. Two hearings on felony weapons charges — one resulting in release on electronic monitoring, the other in detention — show what the reforms could mean for gun cases. [Chicago Tribune]
What does anti-gun violence activism look like on the ground? A new book of photography by J.M. Giordano documents the groups and movements that have been working to counter gun violence in Baltimore since 2013. [The Guardian/Nighted Life]
A Philadelphia judge revoked bail for Mark Dial, the police officer charged with first-degree murder for shooting and killing Eddie Irizarry, sending him to jail until his next hearing. In an atypical move when Dial was charged earlier this month, another judge granted him bail, which was quickly posted by the city’s police union. [The Philadelphia Inquirer] Context: Irizarry’s killing has become the latest flashpoint in the strained relationship between cops and Philadelphians. Its aftermath could be a test for how the city polices its police.
California laws should have prevented Kevin Cataneo Salazar — who shot and killed Los Angeles Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer earlier this month — from purchasing a gun, experts say, given his history of hospitalizations for mental crises and suicide attempts. How did Salazar slip through the cracks? [Los Angeles Times]
Police officers involved in high-profile killings are rarely barred from continuing to work as cops. Out of 54 officers involved in 14 killings that spurred Black Lives Matter protests since 2014, an analysis reveals, only 10 had their police certifications or licenses revoked. [The Intercept]
How did assault-style weapons make it into millions of American homes? As the authors of “American Gun” tell it, the story of the AR-15 is “a Frankenstein tale,” The Trace’s Mike Spies writes in a review of the new book. [The New York Times]
Alana Vasquez, 19, could always be counted on for a laugh: Loved ones described her as equal parts goofy and feisty, a “people person” who looked for the positives in life. Vasquez was shot and killed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, earlier this month. She was incredibly kind, her family said, and found “tremendous joy” in caring for others — something she spent a lot of time doing. Vasquez volunteered at assisted living homes, and stopped by a friend’s house every day to help with child care. She was training to become a behavioral technician, and hoped to work with children with autism. A recent high school graduate, Vasquez had just purchased a car on her own — a milestone she was “ecstatic” to have reached. Her “love for the world and people in it is beyond anything else,” Vasquez’s mother said. “She loves everyone.”
911 Call-Takers Are Demoralized, Overwhelmed and Dealing With Their Own Mental Health Woes: “A 911 call-taker’s read of a situation can set in motion a variety of events, from summoning emergency medical services to sending out armed police officers. They must also assess who may be at greatest risk – the responding police officers or the person experiencing a mental health crisis. That calculus has become increasingly fraught in recent years as the count of people in crisis shot or killed by jittery officers continues to mount. … Amid these challenges, 911 call-takers are suffering a collective mental health crisis of their own.” [MindSite News]
“I’m not saying people can’t have guns, I’m just saying this issue is dear to me. … I know that the lion’s share of gunshot wounds we see are related to domestic violence. It’s really sad to me that someone can still carry a gun after they’ve done something like that to their wife. It blows my mind.”
— Michele Bell, a political independent for whom voter fraud is the most important issue, on her support for banning on people with domestic violence convictions from owning guns, as well as a ban for those who are subjects of domestic violence restraining orders, to The 19th