What To Know Today

Many Democrats are dissatisfied with President Biden’s handling of gun violence. Thirty-seven percent of the Democratic respondents to an ABC News/Ipsos poll disapproved of the president’s response to the issue — the lowest marks Biden received from his fellow party members in the survey, which also covered immigration, the economy, the COVID crisis, and vaccine distribution. The poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday, after the mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, and the president’s comments that gun reform was “a matter of timing.” Overall, two-thirds of those queried said “enacting new laws to try to reduce gun violence” should be a national priority, compared to 34 percent who rated “protecting the right to own a wide variety of guns” as the greater concern. 

“I think we have a chance”: Senators express hope on background check bill. On “Meet the Press,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut acknowledged that a House measure that expands gun background checks to private sales would not pass the Senate without changes. But he believes a pared down bill could attract enough Republican support to clear the 60-vote supermajority required to avoid a filibuster. Republican Senator Patrick Toomey, who authored bipartisan background legislation with Democrat Joe Manchin after Sandy Hook, also appeared on the program and said he thinks the way to gain the votes of enough of his GOP colleagues would be to add carve outs for private firearm transactions not contained in the House bill. Manchin last week also reiterated his support for the legislation he authored with Toomey, while coming out against the House version. 

The NRA board retroactively approved the group’s bankruptcy. An article published by The Trace this weekend reported that the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy plan was kept secret even from top NRA officials and that the group filed for Chapter 11 on January 15 without the informed consent of board members. The New York attorney general, some NRA vendors, and a few NRA directors have all questioned the legitimacy of the move. At an emergency meeting in Dallas yesterday, the board ratified the bankruptcy. What’s next: Hearings on whether to dismiss the bankruptcy as pursued in bad faith are slated to start on April 5. Should the case be dismissed, the resolution authorizes a refiling of the bankruptcy and calls for the continued services of NRA law firm Brewer Attorneys & Counselors. More on the NRA’s attempt to escape a legal reckoning: In my latest piece, I report how the law offices of William A. Brewer III, the gun group’s outside counsel, spent at least five months developing the NRA’s plan to declare bankruptcy and reincorporate in another state in order to slip free from New York Attorney Letitia James’s investigation. It’s a strategy some insiders view with skepticism, and raises further questions about whether Brewer is protecting NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre at the expense of the organization. — Will Van Sant, staff writer

Dissident NRA board members called for a new committee to represent the interest of members in the bankruptcy case. Directors Phillip Journey, Rocky Marshall, Owen Mills, and former NRA board member Esther Schneider made the request in a Friday filing. The New York attorney general and NRA leaders have each opposed past attempts to involve members in their legal clash.

Off the national media’s radar, there have been a string of mass shootings since Boulder. Since last Monday, at least seven people were killed and 54 others injured in 11 separate incidents nationwide, according to Gun Violence Archive. Four of the shootings — in Cleveland, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Virginia Beach — left at least seven people shot. As my colleague Champe Barton reported last week, mass shootings (defined by GVA as those with four or more victims killed or injured) skyrocketed last year and remain high through the first three months of 2021. “The fear that a lot of Americans are struggling with and facing right now is the fear that people in our neighborhoods have been living with and navigating for decades,” Greg Jackson, an advocate for gun violence prevention, told him.

Police reform task force issues recommendations for officer training. The bipartisan Council on Criminal Justice’s Task Force on Policing — made up of experts from police departments and law enforcement unions, activists, politicians, and criminal justice reformers — called for national certification and training standards, widespread deescalation policies, and the adoption of procedural justice protocols to promote respectful interactions between police and the communities they serve. The report also said it found no evidence that implicit bias training has mitigated racial disparities in policing. In January, the task force called for mandating that officers intervene when they witness excessive force, an end to choke holds, and restrictions on no-knock raids.

Data Point

$17.5 million — the amount the NRA paid William Brewer’s firm in the 90 days before its bankruptcy filing, per disclosures. That’s more than the gun group spent on the 2020 presidential race. [The Trace]