What To Know Today
16 Republican attorneys general support the NRA against New York’s suit seeking to dissolve the gun group. The 17-page amicus brief, filed in a federal court in Albany, joins the National Rifle Association’s attempt to stymie litigation brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James that accuses the group of extensive self-dealing and corruption. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who led the effort, said James had overstepped her authority by pursuing her suit against the NRA: “Regulations should never be used to attack a government officials’ political opponents.” The states’ brief claims that James has exhibited bias against the organization, citing comments she made in interviews before winning election. The other 15 states that joined the brief are Alaska; Georgia; Idaho; Mississippi; Oklahoma; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Missouri; Ohio, South Carolina; South Dakota; Texas; Utah; and West Virginia. James responds: “The NRA has been a breeding ground of fraud, abuse, and brazen illegality,” she said in a statement to The Trace. “Simply put, the rot runs deep, which is why our lawsuit to dissolve the organization will continue undeterred.” — Kevin T. Dugan, Trace contributor
Congress approves another $25 million for federal gun violence research. The money, to be split evenly between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, is part of the $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill passed by the House and Senate earlier this week. Lawmakers appropriated the same amount last year, the first time in two decades that the federal government earmarked funding for the study of gun violence. President Trump has threatened not to sign the spending package, which has been combined with a coronavirus relief bill, unless certain changes are made. While giving to researchers, the bill takes away gun violence survivors: Tucked away into the 5,000+ page bill are cuts to the aid available under the federal Crime Victims Fund, which would go from $2 billion to $1.5 billion next year. It also provides tools for police reform: Lawmakers designated $5 million in funding to create databases tracking the excessive use of force by officers; another provision would create a new federal task force to oversee police agencies facing misconduct allegations.
Turning in guns to get grocery cards. At a September gun buyback event in Sante Fe, New Mexico, volunteers collected nearly 200 firearms in exchange for $27,000 in grocery cards. A plurality of the guns surrendered, nearly 44 percent, were assault-style weapons and other semiautomatic firearms, according to New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, which organized the event. It was the group’s first buyback since the pandemic began and the first time it had offered grocery cards as an incentive. “We kept hearing over and over, ‘I don’t need guns in my house. I need groceries on my table,’” Miranda Viscoli, the group’s executive director, told me. The result: Nearly three times as many guns were turned over compared to buybacks before the pandemic, the group said. The organization is planning two more upcoming “Groceries for Guns” events in Las Cruces and Albuquerque, where gun violence spiked this year along with big cities across the country. — Chip Brownlee, investigative fellow
Another police shooting roils Columbus, Ohio. With racial justice activists still outraged over the death of Casey Goodson Jr., a Black concealed carry permit holder fatally shot outside his front door by a sheriffs deputy earlier this month, a city police officer responding to a noise complaint fired at and killed a Black man holding a cell phone in a residential garage late last night. The officer and his partner did not turn on their body cameras until after the shooting. The city’s mayor ordered the Police Department to terminate the officer who committed the shooting. “The community is exhausted,” he said.
$5 million — the NRA’s direct spending so far on the January Senate runoffs in Georgia. That’s compared to the just over $7 million the gun group spent on congressional races during the regular 2020 cycle. The outlay splits about evenly in support of Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. [The Trace]