On Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in its first big gun case of the term, National Rifle Association v. Vullo. In a unanimous decision, the court handed the gun group a high-profile win in the wake of the civil corruption trial against the organization and its former CEO Wayne LaPierre, both found liable. NRA v. Vullo, however, wasn’t directly about firearms.

Instead, the case centered on the First Amendment, specifically whether the NRA — represented at the high court by the American Civil Liberties Union — could pursue a claim that a New York government official violated its constitutionally guaranteed protections. It focused on the actions of then-New York Department of Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo after the 2018 Parkland shooting, when Vullo warned the state’s banks and financial providers to consider the risks associated with servicing the firearms industry. The NRA sued, alleging that the guidance was motivated by a disapproval of pro-gun views, in violation of its free speech rights, and was an attempt at coercing the companies under the agency’s regulatory supervision to sever ties with the firearms industry. 

The case was originally tossed out by the 2nd Circuit, which ruled that Vullo’s speech was not coercive and was regardless entitled to qualified immunity, a liability shield for government officials. The case is now headed back to the appeals court for further proceedings.

As Dru Stevenson, a law professor at the South Texas College of Law in Houston, told The Trace’s Chip Brownlee earlier this year, the high court’s ruling could have ramifications for regulators’ ability to oversee interactions between financial institutions and the gun industry — another notch in “the overall project of the NRA to get privileged legal status for the gun industry,” Stevenson said. 

It could also be counted as the gun group’s first big win in its post-LaPierre era, bolstering the argument that the NRA has entered a new chapter. But as The Trace’s Will Van Sant reported this week, while LaPierre is out, many of the gun group’s long-standing issues remain. Its new leadership team, hailed by some as a win for reformers after the May 20 election, includes people tied to past misuse of NRA funds and a board member who conspired to overturn the 2020 election. And those at the top still have to confront the organization’s legal issues, plummeting revenue, and waning influence — all coalescing in a year with other significant gun cases on the Supreme Court’s docket and the most polarizing presidential election in recent memory.

From The Trace

A roundup of our latest stories.

Who Is Leading the NRA After Wayne LaPierre’s Resignation?

Cast as reformers by some in the gun rights movement, the elevated staffers include an election denier and executives tied to the group’s financial issues.


Illinois Promised to Help With Funeral Costs for Children Lost to Gun Violence. Only Two Families Have Benefitted.

The sudden death of a child leaves families with unexpected costs. An assistance program is supposed to ease that burden.


The Sandy Hook Generation Reinvigorates the Gun Safety Movement

The final episode of “Long Shadow: In Guns We Trust” examines the toll gun violence has taken on Gen Z. Some are now leading the gun safety movement.

Listen → 

The Trace Wins Award for Story on Child Toll of Domestic Violence

The award for Jennifer Mascia coincides with finalist recognition from ASME, NABJ, and the Deadline Club.

Read more →

What to Know This Week

In 2014, Chin Rodger’s son killed six people in a hate-fueled stabbing and shooting rampage in Isla Vista, California. In the decade since the massacre, Rodger has grieved the loss of her son and the pain he created for so many others — and made the difficult choice to study his attack, in the hopes of preventing similar violence in the future. [Mother Jones

Messages from an encrypted chat show that a group of Mississippi sheriff’s deputies who called themselves the “Goon Squad” joked about shooting, killing, and brutalizing people; shared pictures of corpses they encountered; and traded racist and misogynistic comments and memes in a WhatsApp group text for years. The thread paints a portrait of a unit — which gained national attention last year after its members tortured two Black men in their home, and nearly killed one with a gunshot to the face — involved in terrorizing Rankin County residents for a generation. [Mississippi Today and The New York Times]

A massive leak of Mexican military intelligence revealed U.S. gun shops and buyers tied to 78,000 firearms recovered at crime scenes south of the border, and which types of weapons are being trafficked. Three of the top purchasers were linked to the ATF scandal known as “Fast and Furious,” a bungled gun trafficking investigation that took place from 2006 to 2011 in Arizona. [USA TODAY

Two years after 19 children and two teachers were killed in the massacre at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, community members are still recovering from the tragedy — and looking for justice. Several victims’ families have filed lawsuits against Daniel Defense, the manufacturer that produced the shooter’s rifle; Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook; and the company behind Call of Duty, a video game featuring Daniel Defense weapons. The lawsuits accuse the companies of marketing semiautomatic weapons to the Uvalde shooter before he was 18. [The Texas Tribune/Texas Observer]

Veterans are at a particularly high, and increasing, risk of dying by gun suicide, a trend the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been trying to curb for years. A new, artificial intelligence-powered suicide prevention program from the agency uses an algorithm to identify veterans who need extra support — but it prioritizes white men, and doesn’t take sexual violence into account, which affects female service members far more often than their male counterparts. [The Fuller Project]

In Memoriam

Reign Ware, 5, was the “TikTok queen,” her mother, Raven Adams, told the Chicago Sun-Times — she was always dancing, or tumbling across the floor like a gymnast. Reign was shot and killed in Chicago on Sunday, while she was sitting in a car with her father. Adams was planning to enroll Reign, who was set to enter kindergarten in the upcoming school year, in gymnastics classes; she had waited until Reign was older and wouldn’t get hurt as easily. Reign was a “smart” and “joyful” girl who was fascinated by bubbles and loved playing with her big sister. She loved to swim. “She brought life to our life, to outsiders’ lives, to everybody that met her,” Adams said. “She was just a real sweet kid.”

We Recommend

Out of the Blue: The Rise and Fall of a Black Cop: “After Cleveland officer Vincent Montague shot a Black man, he got promoted. Then he allied with Black Lives Matter, and his life went off the rails.” [The Marshall Project]

Pull Quote

“In post-May 24 Uvalde, two of my surviving children have had to deal with peers callously bringing weapons and ammunition to class despite the recent loss of 21 lives, including Lexi’s. Every time there is a lockdown, do my kids wonder if they’ll make it home? Do they wonder if they’ll get home to find they’ve lost another sibling?”

— Kimberly Mata-Rubio, whose daughter Lexi was killed in the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, on what Uvalde, Texas, is like today, in the Texas Observer