What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Lori Lightfoot promised Chicago’s violence reduction committee would be transparent. Its one meeting so far was closed to the public. The mayor’s revamped public safety committee was supposed to hold the city “accountable and increase transparency” for its efforts to reduce violence. But six months later, the committee has met just once, and without input from the community. The secrecy comes after a year of historically high violence in the city made worse by the pandemic, with more than 3,000 people injured in shootings and nearly 800 killed. And the committee is so obscure that some local anti-violence workers were surprised to learn it had met at all. You can read Lakeidra Chavis’ piece here.

Federal appeals court upholds Hawaii law requiring a license for open carry. The full panel of the Ninth Circuit denied an NRA-backed challenge by a state resident who had twice been denied such a license because he did not identify the “urgency or the need” to do so in public. The judges ruled that laws requiring a would-be licensee to demonstrate a special need were permissible, arguing that “Hawai‘i’s restrictions on the open carrying of firearms reflect longstanding prohibitions, and therefore, the conduct they regulate is outside the historical scope of the Second Amendment.” They add that the amendment “does not guarantee an unfettered, general right to openly carry arms in public for individual self-defense.” 

A similar case is on tap before SCOTUS tomorrow. The high court plans to discuss whether to hear New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Corlett, in which a plaintiff is challenging a New York open carry regulation. The court has rejected previous chances to wade into the debate over whether there is a constitutional right to carry guns outside of the home. Jacob Charles, the executive director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law, notes that the counsel for the plaintiff, Paul Clement, is the only lawyer to have convinced the high court to take a major Second Amendment case in the last decade. Tomorrow’s conference is also the first time the court will have the chance to decide on an open carry case since Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed, solidifying the court’s 6-3 conservative majority. 

The lawyer of two dissident NRA board members is now representing a third — plus a former director who resigned in protest. It’s the latest sign of internal unrest at the gun group. In February, Phillip Journey, a Kansas judge who served on the National Rifle Association’s board in the 1990s and was reelected in 2020, said he wanted an independent examiner appointed in the NRA’s Texas bankruptcy case to investigate the group’s compliance with nonprofit law, perks paid to top executives, and related matters under legal scrutiny. The NRA opposes the idea. Last week, we reported that Journey’s lawyer was also representing Rocky Marshall, a director who recently urged other board members to join Journey’s request to appoint an examiner. In a bankruptcy hearing yesterday, the same lawyer notified the court that he’s now also representing longtime board member Owen Mills, as well as Esther Schneider, who resigned in 2019 after publicly calling for an outside investigation into the NRA’s alleged financial improprieties.

🎧Listen🎧: In a busy week, a number of Trace journalists have appeared on media programs to discuss gun violence: 

  • Lakeidra Chavis appeared on City Cast Chicago and J. Brian Charles was on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss unequal media coverage of mass shootings that soared in 2020 and disproportionately affect Black neighborhoods.
  • Jennifer Mascia went on The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the prospects of gun reform passing the Senate after recent mass shootings.

Data Point

214 — the number of militia pages and groups active on Facebook as of March 18, months after the platform announced a crackdown on extremist content. Later today, Mark Zuckerberg will testify before Congress about online misinformation. [Tech Transparency Project]