What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Shootings have surged — and gun companies have made billions. The mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, have provided the latest and most extreme examples of a breathtaking epidemic of gun violence in the United States. Amid this unfolding tragedy, gun and ammunition sales have skyrocketed, scoring gun and ammunition companies record-breaking profits. SEC filings show that since the pandemic began, publicly traded gun companies have netted somewhere in the ballpark of $3 billion dollars, far outpacing previous years’ earnings. Champe Barton has more, in partnership with Rolling Stone.

NEW from THE TRACE: Leading gun rights advocate boosts effort to oust NRA’s Wayne LaPierre. Alan Gottlieb, the leader of two smaller gun rights groups, has been quietly aiding NRA board member Phil Journey’s public campaign to oust the NRA CEO and overhaul management. Journey is the sole voice of dissent on the NRA’s 76-seat board, and is pushing to have former board member Allen West nominated at a Memorial Day board meeting in Houston following this weekend’s NRA convention. Will Van Sant reports

NEW from THE TRACE: Democratic lawmakers demand the ATF turn over more detailed data of gun dealer inspections. In calling for more information from the last five years, they pointed to an investigation by The Trace and USA TODAY as evidence that the agency shirked its regulatory responsibilities. “At a time when gun violence and crime are rising, it is unacceptable for bad actors to repeatedly avoid accountability,” a group of 27 U.S. representatives wrote in a letter to the ATF. Champe Barton has that story.

NEW from THE TRACE: The 25-year-long ricochet from a single bullet. “One Bullet” is the final installment of The Damage Done, a documentary series exploring the nuances of gun violence in Brooklyn by BRIC TV and The Trace. This episode explores the damage wrought by a single bullet to a victim and her shooters.

More updates from the Uvalde: 

  • He walked in unobstructed:” The comments from Victor Escalon Jr., regional director of the Texas Department of Public Safety, during a news conference Thursday disputed initial reports that the gunman was first confronted by a school district police officer before entering. In fact, Escalon said, the gunman shot at neighborhood witnesses who had seen him crash his pickup near the school, then he walked into the school unimpeded. Within about five minutes of entering the school, he walked around the school’s hallways until he found an open classroom. He exchanged fire at two responding local police officers, who called for backup. Then over an hour passed before a Border Patrol sharpshooter fatally shot the gunman while police were also evacuating children.
  • Police response to the shooting draws scrutiny. As the active-shooter situation unfolded, some parents and family members outside the school criticized armed officers for their apparent reluctance to enter the school while the gunman was inside. Representative Joaquin Castro, who represents a nearby congressional district, called on the FBI to investigate conflicting accounts about the shooting, account for the length of time that passed, and look into reports that parents unsuccessfully urged police to confront the shooter. Separately, the Texas Rangers are investigating the response of local police. 
  • “Why does this only happen in your country?” That’s what a British Sky News journalist asked Senator Ted Cruz of Texas after the senator said more gun restrictions wouldn’t have stopped the “violent psychopath.” The reporter went on: “Why only in America? Why is this American exceptionalism so awful?” At that point, Cruz objected to questioning and after a few back and forths eventually walked away from the interview, calling the reporter a “propagandist.”
  • Joe Garcia, the husband of slain Uvalde teacher Irma Garcia, died of a heart attack. John Martinez said his uncle died Thursday morning shortly after visiting his wife’s memorial. Irma Garicia was one of two fourth-grade teachers killed in the shooting. The couple was married for 24 years and leave behind four children, three teenagers, and a 23 year old. Martinez said his uncle had been riven with grief since the shooting, adding, “I’m really in shock right now.”

What’s the evidence for armed guards deterring school shootings? In 2019, one year after the Santa Fe, Texas, school shooting, Governor Greg Abbott signed measures that both allowed for more teachers to be armed and provided funding to “harden schools” with metal detectors, vehicle barriers, and security doors. Along with arming teachers, Texas Republicans remained committed to fortifying schools and having more law enforcement officers in school buildings. But the evidence on armed guards is in short supply: A February 2021 study looking at 133 school shootings found no evidence that an armed guard deterred violence and that the primary variable associated with higher fatalities was when a perpetrator used an assault rifle. The study echoed our 2019 report, which found that experts and past research called into question the effectiveness of armed guards in stopping school attacks.

Data Points

More than $2 billion —  the chemical and ammunition profits Olin Corp, a manufacturing company, made between 2019 and 2021. [The Trace]

$3.1 million — the amount the Georgia gun manufacturer Daniel Defense received from the federal government through the Paycheck Protection Program, according to The New York Times. The company made the rifle that the Uvalde shooter used. As we reported in 2020, Daniel Defense was one of scores of gun companies to receive assistance during the pandemic, even as firearms sales hit a high. [The New York Times]

$211 million — the funds Governor slashed from the department that oversees mental health programs in April. Abbott this week has blamed the shooter’s “mental health challenge” for the shooting. [NBC News]

311,000 — the number of kids at K-12 schools who have been exposed to gun violence during school hours since Columbine shooting in 1999. [The Washington Post]