What To Know Today

Biden administration taps a new acting ATF director. Gary Restaino, a U.S. attorney in Arizona, will take the place of current acting director Marvin Richardson, according to numerous news reports that followed an exclusive from The Reload. White House officials later confirmed the change. Richardson, who has served the ATF for more than 30 years and became acting director just last year, will reportedly stay on as deputy director. He is said to be well liked by the agency’s rank-and-file, but some gun control advocates complain that Richardson is too close to the gun industry. The ATF reshuffle comes a week after President Joe Biden tapped former U.S. Attorney Steven Dettelbach to be the permanent director of the agency, which has lacked such a Senate-confirmed position since 2015.

Florida’s agriculture commissioner is suing the Biden administration over gun denials for marijuana use. Nikki Fried, the sole elected Democrat for statewide office, is suing the federal government in an attempt to block a rule that bars users of federally illegal drugs like marijuana from buying guns. Fried’s suit, which names the ATF’s acting director and Attorney General Merrick Garland as defendants, says in part that the policy violates the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana users. Medical marijuana is legal in Florida and 36 other states, and recreational use is legal in 18. Through her office, Fried has jurisdiction over processing concealed carry permits and regulates aspects of Florida’s medical marijuana law. She is also running in this year’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. 

D.C. unveils program targeting the 200 people it considers at highest risk for being involved in gun violence. In February, researchers commissioned by the D.C. government released a two-year study that estimated about 200 people were driving the bulk of the city’s gun violence at any given time. Now, the government is rolling out a specialized team that will attempt to reach out to “highest-risk” people identified in the course of that study, and connect them to wrap-around services like job training, employment, and mental and behavioral health treatment in the hopes of disincentivizing violence. The D.C. government said it has already made contact with about half of those people. “You can have a name on a piece of paper, but finding a person, engaging them, and connecting them to services and having them agree to trust in us and accept the services is really the hard work,” said Linda Harllee Harper, the director of D.C.’s Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

The “expendable’ victims of America’s gun violence crisis. Black Americans are far more likely to be affected by gun violence than other groups, a disparity that in many ways grew worse during the pandemic and has increasingly shown up in youth gun suicide numbers as well. In an interview with The Guardian, Chicago-based social worker Henrika McCoy talks about how stereotypes and ignoring the victims in the Black community distorts our understanding of violence:

  • “We are not built for repetitive trauma, so we end up forgetting that the homicide victim we’re reading about is a person. We end up assuming that since this happens every day, it doesn’t have a real impact in communities. By making that assumption, we give ourselves permission to not try to understand or to be engaged and be involved.”

Data Point

86 percent — the share of victims and suspects in 341 D.C. homicides in 2019 and 2020 who had been known to the criminal justice system [National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform]