What To Know Today

The medium is the message: Survey shows that news sources, not headlines, determine credibility on guns. Researchers at the state-funded New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center polled a sample of 3,500 U.S. adults about two headlines: “Gun violence is result of mental health problems,” and “Storing firearms in a safe can help prevent suicides.” Half the survey respondents saw one was designated as coming from Fox News and the other from MSNBC; the other half of participants had the media attributions switched. Perhaps unsurprisingly, subjects judged each headline as credible or not based on how much trust they had in the associated publisher, rather than on the wording of the headline itself. “So what does this all mean?” study co-author Mike Anestis asked on Twitter. “We must ensure that accurate info is voiced by individuals seen as compelling by the audience we most want to reach. Accurate info through the wrong channel is less powerful — or worse, counterproductive.”

Dozens of advocacy groups push the White House to take more action on gun violence prevention. In an open letter, the 43 signed groups — which include some of the movement’s most influential organizations, like Brady and Giffords — called on President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to take a slew of immediate steps. Those include declaring gun violence a public health crisis; adding additional funding for community violence intervention and suicide prevention; launching a federal Office of Gun Violence Prevention to coordinate policy across agencies; and nominating a new permanent head of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which has operated without such a leader since 2015. The last two recommendations echo ones made by a smaller group of gun reform advocates last week. “The Administration can, and must, do more in 2022 or potentially face an even more dramatic increase in gun violence than we saw these past years,” the new letter reads. “We cannot afford to wait for a stagnated Congress to take action; instead, we implore your Administration to use the authority of the office to reverse this deadly trend.”

South Dakota Legislature votes down bill that would have made it illegal for state officials to enforce federal gun laws. Like Missouri’s controversial “Second Amendment” law — which is the subject of state and federal lawsuits — the legislation would have prohibited South Dakota officials from enforcing federal gun restrictions and allowed fines of up to $50,000 for state agencies whose employees violated the statute. But on Tuesday, South Dakota’s House voted down the measure 39 to 28. Last year, in addition to Missouri, at least eight states with Republican-controlled legislatures passed similar laws, although most excluded penalty provisions, making them largely symbolic.

Federal judge throws out plea deals for suspected Boogaloo believers involved in fatal shooting of a federal officer. Last year, three members of an anti-government militia pleaded guilty to destroying evidence related to the fatal shooting of a federal security guard in Oakland in 2020. Earlier this month, Steven Carrillo, an ex-Air Force sergeant, pleaded guilty to the murder. His three suspected accomplices were expected to receive sentences of between 10 and 12 months in exchange for pleading guilty, but the decision from Judge James Donato means the men will instead stand trial in June, with no guarantees as to their sentences. “They were dedicated exclusively and deliberately in a scheme to target and kill law enforcement officers,” the judge said. “I haven’t seen a case that is more of a threat to public safety.”

Data Point

65 — the number of times the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition were among plaintiffs in more than 90 federal gun-related court cases from 2016 through the end of 2021. The NRA was involved in 12 cases. The cases resulted in close to 20 interim or final wins for gun rights groups. [USA TODAY]