What to Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Guns recovered by Mexico’s military come mostly from U.S. makers. In the wake of a judge’s decision to throw out the Mexican government’s lawsuit against the gun industry, The Trace obtained data that demonstrates how American companies produce many of the weapons driving cartel violence. The data details every firearm recovered by the Mexican military between 2010 and May of 2020 — almost 125,000 weapons, including machine guns, grenade launchers, and tens of thousands of pistols and rifles. Taken together, the numbers tell a damning story of iconic American gunmakers’ involvement in a decade of Mexican bloodshed, Champe Barton, Alain Stephens, and Steve Fisher report. Read their story here.

Crackdowns on assault weapons create a lucrative opportunity for small gunmakers that can outmaneuver regulators. In many states, lawmakers have passed assault weapons bans in a piecemeal manner — and the existing regulations, advocates for gun restrictions told Bloomberg, are easy to get around. The patchwork policies have created a lucrative opportunity for smaller gun manufacturers that can tweak their products faster than competitors, and create guns, including AR-style rifles, that technically comply with state laws. It’s paying off: Between 2014 and 2020, Bloomberg found, the number of gun manufacturers producing fewer than 50,000 weapons per year surged 70 percent. How many AR-style rifles are in circulation? Anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 million ARs are produced annually, The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia reported earlier this year. Read her full explainer on AR-15s here.

Manhattan judge rules against NRA in New York AG lawsuit — again. On Tuesday, Judge Joel M. Cohen ordered the National Rifle Association to turn over a 2003 report by an outside investigator and a 2007 whistleblower letter to New York Attorney General Letitia James, potentially giving James additional evidence of the gun group’s long-standing lack of financial controls and waste of donor funds. The AG’s complaint against the NRA, filed in 2020, focuses primarily on alleged violations of nonprofit law over the last decade. Available court filings suggest that the 2003 report examined the misuse of NRA credit cards. The whistleblower’s concerns were described in another letter by an NRA board member to the group’s audit committee. The board member’s letter, filed by James in the proceeding, details worries over whether the group was violating IRS rules with its travel and expense spending, and questions payments to some of the same vendors whose names would appear in James’s complaint. The same judge previously rebuked the NRA for its repeated attempts to get the case dismissed. — Will Van Sant

Gun owners in San José, California, who fail to obtain insurance will be fined up to $1,000. The San José City Council approved an ordinance in February requiring gun owners to carry liability insurance and pay an annual fee that will be distributed to community-based gun violence reduction programs. This week, the council voted to impose financial penalties for gun owners who don’t obey the law, The Mercury News reported, levying penalties of $250 for a first offense, $500 for a second, and $1,000 for three or more. Brass tacks: Requiring gun owners to buy insurance may not work as advertised. San José’s law only covers shootings that occur under a narrow and specific set of circumstances, providing little incentive for gun owners to adopt safer practices. 

He survived a school shooting. Diving is helping him survive the aftermath. On November 30, 2021, Keegan Gregory, a freshman on the diving team, watched his classmate die in a bathroom at Oxford High, during a school shooting that killed three other students. The attack shook the Michigan town and got national attention, but as Sports Illustrated notes in a sweeping feature, it didn’t hold America’s attention for long: For a generation accustomed to gun violence, school shootings appear to be “the cost of doing business.” For Keegan, the trauma was relentless, and kept him out of school for months. Returning to the pool, though, gave him a feeling of control. Diving got him back into the school building — and, this year, back to class at Oxford High. Warning: This story contains graphic depictions of a school shooting.

Data Point

~18,000 — the number of licensed gunmakers operating nationwide. That’s almost double the number from 2014. [Bloomberg]