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In 1972, the late Representative John D. Dingell, a powerful Democrat from Michigan, wrote an amendment to the legislation that established the Consumer Product Safety Commission excluding firearms from the agency’s purview. As The Trace’s Champe Barton explained in April, that exemption proved consequential. Even if a gun explodes in someone’s hand — or if it fires without its wielder pulling the trigger, as more than 80 people allege of SIG Sauer’s P320 pistol — the CPSC can’t impose a recall.

Dingell sat on the NRA’s board of directors at the same time that he served in Congress, and he rightfully gets a lot of credit for shaping modern American gun policy. But, as The New York Times reports, he wasn’t alone. Over the last 50 years, at least eight other members of the House and Senate, from both sides of the aisle, served on the pro-gun group’s board while they held a congressional seat. The Times obtained a trove of records that reveal the extent to which these lawmakers helped the NRA become the preeminent firearms lobbying force today — often prodding the pro-gun group into action and swatting down legislative attempts at restriction. 

Today, the NRA is still the most sizable and resource-rich force in the gun rights movement, even without any current legislators on its board. But the organization’s membership, and the revenue that comes with it, is shrinking, while litigation costs skyrocket. The group has garnered criticism, too, for hefty spending on legal disputes unrelated to gun rights, adding to many advocates’ sense that the organization is no longer the standard bearer for their cause. Last week, The Trace’s Will Van Sant revealed one of those disputes: A lawsuit against Ackerman McQueen, the NRA’s longtime ad firm-turned-bitter adversary, that’s being carried out entirely in secret.

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What to Know Today

Several agencies housed under the Department of Homeland Security regularly undercount use-of-force incidents, according to a new Government Accountability Office report, in essence ignoring an executive order by President Joe Biden to improve transparency around use of force in federal law enforcement agencies. [The Intercept

Six months after the mass shooting at Star Ballroom in Monterey Park, California, survivors are still dealing with the fallout: Some remain in the depths of trauma and anxiety; others have come together, returning to dancing and rebuilding a cherished community. For Lloyd Gock, who credits Star Ballroom with helping him emerge from a deep depression, dancing is proving to be a healing force once again. [Los Angeles Times

Following a recent shooting at a medical facility in Portland, Oregon, nurses and health care officials are debating an increasingly urgent question: How do we keep hospitals and their workers safe from violence? [Fierce Healthcare

A gun store in Gary, Indiana, that police have tied to hundreds of Chicago crimes announced that it’s closing its doors. The city of Chicago sued Westforth Sports Inc. in 2021, alleging that it “engaged in a pattern of illegal sales that has resulted in the flow of hundreds, if not thousands, of illegal firearms” into the city. [USA TODAY] Context: In 2012, ATF investigators recommended revoking Westforth’s license, after the store had racked up dozens of violations over several decades. But the agency never followed through.

As gun violence among young people increases in Baltimore, new prevention efforts are focused on addressing why teenagers believe they need a firearm. “That’s where we see the solution,” said a local advocate. “Not so much focusing on whether or not young people are going to access guns, but what are the other alternative options that young people actually have?” [The Baltimore Sun

America’s crime trends for 2023 are beginning to come into focus: Analyst Jeff Asher found that murder is almost certainly going to see a significant decline this year. His trend forecast, based on reports from big cities, matches shooting victimization data from the Gun Violence Archive. [Substack

Gun suicides reached an all-time high in 2022, according to provisional CDC data, and the gun suicide rate among Black children and teens surpassed the rate among white children and teens for the first time on record. [USA TODAY/Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions] Context: Gun violence researcher Charles Branas told The Trace that the rise in gun suicide is keeping overall gun deaths high.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is awarding $20,000 grants to 10 community groups to fund gun violence prevention and intervention programs for young people in shooting hotspots. The programs range from teaching teens about financial literacy to training them in activism. [THE CITY]


‘I Am Different Now’: A Doctor Reflects on Treating Trauma After Confronting Gun Violence Firsthand: Dr. Gillian Naro was working a night shift when her hospital faced an active shooter. In an interview with The Trace, she discusses the experience, and how she hopes to prevent more violence. (March 2022)