What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: Biden’s nominee to lead the ATF comes down to a final decision by Senator Angus King. Supporters of David Chipman launched a final full-court press on the independent senator from Maine, with private meetings this week at the end of a bruising confirmation fight that featured millions spent in lobbying alongside disinformation about the former agent and his family that turned bizarre and threatening. Advocates are hoping for a floor vote before the Senate breaks for its August recess this weekend. All Republicans are expected to vote against the nominee, meaning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer can afford no defections, including from King, who caucuses with the Democrats. Brian Freskos has that story with USA TODAY’s Nick Penzenstadler.
Mexico announces historic suit against “negligent” U.S. gun manufacturers. The civil lawsuit, filed in federal district court in Boston, alleges that 10 companies’ lax oversight and negligence fueled illicit gun trafficking over the border and contributed to Mexico’s long and violent war with drug cartels. “What’s the objective? That the companies in question compensate Mexico’s government for the damage caused by their negligent practices,” Mexico’s foreign minister said during a news conference announcing the suit. The suit is seeking stricter controls on gun sales, research efforts by the companies into ways to prevent gun trafficking, and monetary damages for the toll of gun violence in Mexico, which officials calculate could total $10 billion. While a 2005 federal law protects gunmakers from most lawsuits, Mexican officials have closely followed a handful of cases that have successfully evaded the legal shield. Companies named in the new suit include Smith & Wesson Brands, Glock, and Barrett Firearms Manufacturing. More from The Trace: American guns are a major contributor to crime in Mexico and other parts of Central America. Meanwhile, the powerful .50 caliber sniper rifle made by Barrett has been implicated in numerous high-profile cases of anti-government violence in Mexico.
Austin Police are telling residents they can’t investigate complaints — and blaming progressive prosecutors. Prosecutors in the Texas city have vowed to eliminate cash bail, expand diversion programs, and treat substance abuse as a public health issue, after winning elections on reform campaigns. In response, The Intercept reports, local law enforcement has allegedly started telling some people who call for help that they aren’t able to provide it, and that prosecutors and the City Council, which voted last year to divert a quarter of the Police Department’s $434 million budget, are to blame. The district attorney in Travis County, which includes Austin, sent letters to city officials inquiring about “increasing incidents of some Austin Police Department Officers declining to investigate suspected criminal activity and suggesting to community members it is because our office will not prosecute the cases.” This comes as the police union launches a ballot measure campaign that would require Austin to hire between 300 and 500 new police officers next year. “They’re basically trying to bypass the budget process by putting that on the ballot this fall,” said a member of an Austin neighborhood association.
Missouri governor pardons couple who aimed guns at protesters. Mark and Patricia McCloskey pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor charges, agreeing to pay nearly $3,000 in fines and give up the guns they wielded at Black Lives Matter demonstrators who marched past their home last summer. After repeated promises that he’d pardon the couple, Republican Governor Mike Parson made it official on Tuesday. A double standard: The governor also denied pardons for Lamar Johnson and Kevin Strickland, Black men who have been imprisoned on murder charges for decades despite prosecutors saying they believe the men are innocent.
Arizona paper the latest outlet to rethink crime coverage. The Arizona Republic will shift the way it covers crime, including removing most mugshots, after feedback from community members who said previous coverage depicted communities of color largely in terms of criminality and was “slow to show the joyous moments in these neighborhoods and homes.” The change comes two months after the AP announced it would stop naming suspects accused of minor crimes where further coverage is unlikely.
“The solution can’t solely be more police”: D.C. votes to divert $6.1M to community-led solutions. The D.C. Council voted this week to split Mayor Muriel Bowser’s $11 million funding request that would go to hiring 170 new police officers and add a second, larger bucket that will fund local street outreach and violence interruption work. The remaining $5 million will still go toward new police hires, which the council estimates to mean 60 new officers over two years. “If you think about it, relying only on police is a reactive strategy,” said D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson. “Police respond to incidents of violence. On the other side, violence interrupters are proactive.”
2.5 million — the number of illicit American guns that have ended up in Mexico in the last decade, according to a 2020 study by the Mexican government. [The Washington Post]