What To Know Today

2021 saw fewer armed demonstrations — but where they did happen tells an interesting story. There were 610 armed demonstrations from the start of 2020 through November 2021, according to an updated analysis from ACLED and Everytown for Gun Safety. [Everytown’s nonpolitical arm provides funding to The Trace. Here is a list of The Trace’s major donors and its policy on editorial independence.] Demonstrations with guns present were 6.5 times more likely to turn violent or destructive than those without, their analysis found. While the absolute number of armed protests notably decreased last year, the share of protests that included armed demonstrators increased under certain variables:

  • More legislative grounds, more pro-Trump events: Armed protests at legislative grounds went from 14.5 percent of all such demonstrations (70 out of 482) in 2020 to 33.6 percent (44 out of 131) in the first 11 months of last year. A similar increase increase was evident at pro-Trump demonstrations, where protests with armed people increased from 6.2 percent in 2020 (80 of 1,282) to 8.8 percent (32 of 364) last year. 
  • A combination of the two: The share of armed pro-Trump demonstrations that took place on legislative grounds also increased, from 33.8 percent of all protests (27 out of 80) in 2020 to 81.3 percent (26 out of 32) last year. Since 2020, 47.3 percent of armed pro-Trump demonstrations (53 out of 112) happened on legislative grounds, compared to 12.2 percent of all other armed protests (61 out of 501).

Overall, 81.9 percent of the groups identified at armed protests since 2020 were right-wing, and such groups were present at 45.8 percent of all armed protests (60 of 131) in 2021, up from 35.7 percent (172 of 482) in 2020. People affiliated with the Boogaloo, the Three Percenters, and the Proud Boys were the three most commonly identified groups at these demonstrations.

Facing a Republican primary challenge, Georgia’s governor calls for permitless carry law. Brian Kemp announced his intention to seek the law that would remove licensing requirements for public handgun carrying. Kemp’s decision to embrace the increasingly popular policy among conservatives and gun rights advocates comes after former Senator David Perdue announced he would challenge Kemp in November’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Perdue identified open carry as a top issue for his campaign, and previously lambasted Kemp for not enacting it in the state. Last year, six GOP-controlled states passed permitless carry laws, bringing the total number to 21. Several other GOP-controlled states are also actively considering them, including Alabama, Nebraska, and Ohio.

Chip Brownlee

The first in a 10-essay series explores the contested issue of race and guns in America. The Duke Center for Firearms Law recently held a roundtable on the topic, and plans to publish essays from many of its participants in the coming weeks. On Wednesday, it published the inaugural article, a look at how both sides of the ongoing Supreme Court case about a New York public carry law have sought to use racial justice arguments to advance very different perspectives about gun policy. The New York State Rifle & Pistol Association. v. Bruen case, author Daniel Harawa writes, “captures the conundrum Black people face when it comes to the realization of constitutional equality in the Second Amendment context. No matter what the Supreme Court holds in Bruen, Black people’s Second Amendment rights will look very different than white people’s rights.” Other essays in the series, which the center plans to publish nearly daily in January, will address policing, the history of racism and the Second Amendment, Native nations’ rights to bear arms, and more.

California lawmakers want to make it easier to sue gun manufacturers. A new bill, introduced on Tuesday, is modeled after New York’s first-in-the-nation bill that permits liability lawsuits against gun manufacturers if the companies are deemed to have marketed their products in a way that constitutes an illegal “public nuisance.” That law attempts to bypass the federal law that protects gunmakers from being sued when their products are used in a crime. Last month, a group of gun companies led by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the industry’s trade group, sued to block New York’s law.

Data Point

114 — the number of uniformed appearances members of the Proud Boys made in 73 cities in 24 states between January 6 and December 21 of last year, per a new database. In addition to regularly showing up at armed protests, members of the group have been heavily implicated in the Capitol insurrection. [Vice News]