What to Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: She saw the pain of gun violence firsthand. Healing it became her higher calling. As a young child in Alabama, Kathy Manis Findley witnessed the power of a firearm used to harm and intimidate others. Her experiences with violence and abuse later compelled her to commit her life to the church and her community. “Faith can be a way of healing these wounds that we are inflicting upon each other,” she tells Ann Givens in the latest profile in Ricochet, our series exploring lives touched by guns.
Former prosecutors call to end an “inequitable and unjust policy” in Washington, D.C. In a letter, 87 former federal prosecutors asked Attorney General Merrick Garland to end a Trump-era initiative that shifted D.C. gun possession charges against individuals with prior felony convictions from local to federal court. Under Acting U.S. Attorney Channing Phillips, a Biden appointee, the Department of Justice has continued the initiative, despite mounting criticism. Opponents say the policy has led to harsher sentencing, disproportionately impacts Black residents, and undermines D.C.’s local authority. “We share the administration’s desire to combat gun violence in the District and across the country. But we also know that excessive terms of incarceration are the wrong way to achieve that goal,” the former prosecutors wrote. Lawyers for the DOJ defended the policy in court on Wednesday, where a 63-year-old man whose only prior conviction was a nonviolent drug offense had been charged under the initiative. A judge is expected to rule soon on whether to dismiss the case. — Chip Brownlee
Biden administration nearing completion of rule to regulate pistol stabilizing braces. The accessory, which can increase the accuracy and deadliness of AR-style pistols, came under scrutiny after a firearm fitted with one was implicated in a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, on March 22. The next month, President Biden directed the Department of Justice to regulate the items under the National Firearms Act, which would require owners to register them with the federal government. Per Bloomberg Law, the White House regulatory office’s website shows that the DOJ is moving forward, two weeks after releasing a separate proposal for unserialized ghost guns.
D.C. becomes the latest city to divert some mental health calls away from police. Starting in June, the city will pilot dispatching unarmed behavioral health teams to handle nonviolent crisis calls. In addition to clinicians, the teams will include people who have previously experienced psychological distress. For the first six months, the service will be available 12 hours a day, with a goal of expanding to 24/7 in 2022. D.C.’s plan follows efforts in a growing number of cities and states to reduce armed officers’ involvement in mental health crises.
ICYMI: A new player on the gun lobby scene. Last week, the U.S. Concealed Carry Association, a Wisconsin-based national gun rights group that claims more than 600,000 members, launched its Association For Saving Lives Super PAC. The lobbying group aims to broadly advocate against gun restrictions and for federal legislation to guarantee concealed carry reciprocity. The gun rights movement has long sought the latter, which would require each state to recognize concealed carry permits from any other. The PAC launch comes in a year when a slew of states have relaxed restrictions on carrying in public and as the Supreme Court considers a major case that could greatly expand open and concealed carry.
61 percent — the share of perpetrators of mass shootings (defined as those with four or more victims) who had previous domestic violence offenses, according to a study of data from 2014 to 2017. [American Society of Criminology]