What To Know Today

A searchable database of nearly 2,000 gun dealers with violations between 2015 and 2017. Our sweeping investigation into the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives inspection program was based on records obtained by the gun reform group Brady through its lawsuit against the ATF. The data includes reports of inspections in that time in which gun dealers received warning letters, warning conferences, revocations, or other penalties. The Trace’s Daniel Nass built an interactive map and database to help sort the underlying data, and with our colleague, Brian Freskos, created a reporting recipe explaining how to find and use the information. In addition to downloading the whole dataset, you can search gun dealers by state, by the type of violation, or the regulatory outcome in the time period in question.The database also includes detailed information about a business’s location and license, and the violations it was cited for.

NEW from THE TRACE: “Kitchen-table” gun dealers rack up ATF violations. Although the bureau inspects fewer than 15 percent of all firearms dealers each year and rarely revokes licenses, some of those who face the strictest penalties are home-based sellers, the ATF inspection records show. These dealers are often targeted by the ATF since they don’t invest in the same inventory tracking and security, and don’t fight federal attorneys as vigorously as established stores or chains. Of 150 shops that received revocations or warning conferences, the two most serious penalties, 40 were nontraditional sellers. Read that story from The Trace and USA TODAY here.

San Jose shooter was previously questioned by law enforcement, allegedly had a history of domestic violence. The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. Customs officers detained the man in 2016 and observed that he expressed hatred of the workplace where he committed the shooting. Separately, court records show an ex-girlfriend said the perpetrator had abused her, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. The all-too-common link between domestic abuse and gun violence. A 2019 study in the American Society of Criminology found that 61 percent of perpetrators of mass shootings (defined as those with four or more victims) between 2014 and 2017 had previous domestic violence offenses. A 2020 Bloomberg News investigation found a nearly identical percentage in a larger case study of mass shootings.

Why a far-right church known for worshiping with guns bought land in Texas. The Rod of Iron Ministries is a fringe sect founded by Hyung Jin “Sean” Moon and Kook-jin “Justin” Moon, sons of the late Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The brothers also run the gun manufacturer Kahr Arms. In October, The Trace’s Champe Barton reported on their Rod of Iron Freedom Festival, a gathering of far-right ideologues and gun activists that boosted election conspiracy theories. Sean Moon was later among the crowd in Washington, D.C., that gathered outside during the Capitol insurrection. Since then, the church has become even more militant, Vice’s Tess Owen writes, and recently purchased a large compound, where they hope to shield their followers from what they believe is imminent civil strife. “These people are just getting crazier and crazier, and scaring everyone. And I don’t know what’s going to happen next,” said one person whose parents are prominent members. 

A bipartisan Senate effort to reform background check rules slowly advances. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Republican Senator John Cornyn are currently negotiating the proposal of a rule that would broaden the definition of federal firearms licensee, NBC News reports. Private sellers are currently exempt from federal background check laws, but a clarified and expanded scope could require those deemed to be “engaged in the business” of selling guns to vet would-be buyers. Though it’s less expansive than a House-passed universal background check bill, the change could prevent prohibited purchasers from buying guns.

Spread the word: Our introduction to “Up the Block” is now in Spanish. The project, led by Trace community outreach editor Sabrina Iglesias, will provide resources to Philadelphians affected by gun violence. Until it launches later this year, you can now read the project description en Español or in English.

Data Point

3 percent — the share of dealers (56 overall) in our ATF dataset that lost their gun-selling license as a result of legal violations. By contrast, the agency gave 1,774 licensees, or 92 percent, warning letters. [The Trace]