What To Know Today
Wayne LaPierre allegedly directed a travel consultant to submit invoices that omitted stops. That’s according to testimony yesterday from Gayle Stanford, who collected more than $2 million a year from the National Rifle Association while acting as the gun group CEO’s travel consultant. She said she submitted invoices that omitted stops in Nebraska and the Bahamas at LaPierre’s direction. LaPierre has relatives in Nebraska, and he and his family have vacationed in the Bahamas on a yacht owned by an NRA vendor. LaPierre’s air travel and that of his extended family at the NRA’s expense has been controversial. LaPierre testified in the NRA’s Texas bankruptcy case that he has exclusively flown on private flights since 2013 and made all arrangements with Stanford verbally, never in writing. LaPierre has suggested that details of his spending and travel must be kept secret to protect him from threats. In a tense exchange during which LaPierre’s lawyer repeatedly urged him to limit his responses, the NRA boss said that attorneys had urged him to pay legal invoices before the bankruptcy filing in January, lest the law firms involved become creditors in the case. The judge, who told LaPierre the issue was “a very important area for you and your organization,” pleaded with LaPierre, as he did yesterday, not to digress in his answers. “I’m about to say something I’ve said for a day and a half now,” the judge said to LaPierre. “Can you answer the questions that are asked?” Hearings resume Monday. — Will Van Sant, staff writer
NEW from THE TRACE: Major online marketplaces allowed the sale of pistol braces, despite bans on gun parts. Google, Facebook, and Etsy all facilitated sales of the accessories, according to a Trace review. Until Thursday, several braces were listed for sale on Google Shopping, the tech company’s commerce portal, and on Etsy. Both Google and Etsy removed the listings after being contacted by The Trace. Another brace has been listed for four weeks on Facebook Marketplace. On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced an executive action directing the Department of Justice to regulate the items under the National Firearms Act, prohibiting their normal sale and requiring them to be registered with the federal government. Daniel Nass has that story.
“Gun violence in this country is an epidemic, and it’s an international embarrassment.” So said Biden in announcing several other executive measures to combat gun violence, as well as Giffords senior adviser David Chipman as his nominee to be the permanent head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “The violence is hitting Black and Brown communities particularly hard,” Biden said at a press conference at the White House, noting that the issue of gun violence goes much deeper than high-profile mass shootings like those in Boulder, Colorado, and Atlanta. “Gun violence is not a problem law enforcement alone can solve:” Attorney General Merrick Garland spoke about regulatory actions the DOJ will take on ghost guns and pistol braces, while also saying the department would make over $1 billion available through grants for community-oriented solutions. “These proven strategies include, but are not limited to, street outreach, violence interrupters, and hospital-based violence intervention services,” he said. More policy details: Biden and Garland made explicit what was widely expected on ghost guns — that the DOJ would direct the ATF to announce a rule to classify ghost gun kits as firearms. Such a designation for so-called 80 percent lower receivers — a common building block for ghost guns — would require a background check for purchase.
Black- and Brown-led community violence prevention organizations react. “We are grateful to the Biden administration for taking historic action to invest in these comprehensive strategies, which have the power to heal communities that have been traumatized not only by daily gun violence but also by decades of economic divestment and structural racism,” said Fatimah Loren Dreier, executive director of the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention. HAVI is part of the Fund Peace coalition, a campaign that has pushed the White House to provide more money for such programs.
South Carolina mass shooting leaves five people dead, one injured. A prominent doctor, his wife, and two young grandchildren were victims in the Wednesday shooting at a home near Rock Hill. Investigators said the suspect in the shooting is former NFL player Phillip Adams, who was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. It was one of 13 mass shootings (at least four injured) this week, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and follows recent tragic multiple-victim homicides in family homes in Allen, Texas, and Brooklyn, New York.
Tennessee governor signs permitless carry bill. The NRA-backed bill allows any person 21 and over (and members of the military starting at 18) to carry handguns — either concealed or openly — without first having to get a permit. Last week, Iowa’s governor signed a similar bill.
$115 billion — state and local government spending on police budgets in 2017, the last year for which data is available. [The Urban Institute]
$5 billion — the Biden administration’s proposed spending for community-focused anti-violence programs in its jobs and infrastructure plan. That doesn’t include the move this week to prioritize more than $1 billion in current federal grant programs for such initiatives. [The Trace]