What To Know This Week
Court records add alarming details about the man arrested near the Capitol with guns. The 70-year-old Alabama resident faces 17 weapons charges after authorities found five illegal guns, a “large-capacity ammo feeding device,” numerous Molotov cocktails, and handwritten notes about public figures in his truck, prosecutors said in a filing arguing against his release from detention: “The contents [of his vehicle] raise grave concerns about his intentions, and suggest that these weapons were intended to be used in an effort to violently attack our elected representatives.”
Popular gun website owned by ex-NRA president is moving to a hosting service known as a haven for hate speech. Over the weekend, domain registrar GoDaddy booted ar15.com after finding “content on the site that both promotes and encourages violence,” a GoDaddy spokesman said. In a post on Monday, the gun site’s administrator said ar15.com is moving its domain to Epik, “which is conservative owned and has our full support.” Epik is known for giving refuge to extremists banned by mainstream platforms. (Parler, a social media network popular with the right, also reportedly moved to Epik after Amazon kicked it off its web service.) Former National Rifle Association president and board member Pete Brownell is an owner of ar15.com. Neither Brownell nor a spokesman for his firearms business responded to a request for comment. — Will Van Sant, staff writer
NEW from THE TRACE: On the frontlines of gun violence prevention, lessons learned from a harrowing year. While the nation braces for a possible new round of extremist violence this weekend, estimates from the Gun Violence Archive show that more than 540 people have already died in fatal shootings in 2021 as a historic surge in homicides spills into a new year. People working to build safer communities continue to face daunting challenges, but they also came away from 2020 with new insights — about how shootings multiply, about our frayed social services, and most importantly, about what we need to do better, and differently, in the year ahead. “This year has taught us that poverty and gun violence go hand in hand,” the manager of a street outreach program in New York told us. “I can see [state officials] wanting to invest more in those programs in the future. This year has shown what an impact they have.” The sources we spoke with weren’t cheery, but nor were they defeatist, and their insights are worth your time.
The clearest evidence yet that threats of an assault on the Capitol went unheeded. The day before the attack, FBI agents in Norfolk, Virginia, sent a bulletin to the bureau’s D.C. field office and other law enforcement agencies describing “calls for violence… to begin on 6 January 2021 in Washington. D.C,” according to a document obtained by The Washington Post. The FBI memo highlighted an online thread that urged people going to the city for demonstrations: “Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war.” The briefing noted that the intelligence was still uncorroborated and expressed worry about interfering with protesters’ First Amendment rights. The former head of the Capitol Police, who resigned after the riots, said he wasn’t informed about the FBI bulletin.
Guns, shooting threats, and fascist chatter: Extremists gain followers on alternate apps. Kicked off their old platforms, users have migrated to encrypted chat tools like Telegram, NBC News reports. “Now that they forced us off the main platforms it doesn’t mean we go away, it just means we are going to go to places they don’t see,” wrote one poster. One forum with ties to the far-right Proud Boys saw its membership jump from about 1,000 in September to almost 16,000 as of Monday. Another fascist-themed channel on Telegram included incitements to “shoot politicians” and “encourage armed struggle.”
1/3 — the share of active-duty troops who said they witnessed first-hand examples of white supremacy or extremist ideology, according to a 2020 survey. Several members of the military are under investigation for their possible roles in the Capitol riot. [Politico]