What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: What can the ATF do about converted machine guns? On April 11, more than 40 members of Congress signed a letter urging the ATF to take action on the proliferation of the auto sear, a small device that allows a semiautomatic gun to fire on full auto and that has become increasingly popular among criminals. In their letter, members of Congress asked the ATF to be more explicit in calling conversion devices illegal and to crack down on them. They’re also asking the agency to put a stop to the companies “pushing the legal limits on these devices.” But finding an effective solution may be difficult. Industry insiders and law enforcement officials interviewed for this story questioned whether the ATF has the power to do much more that what it’s already doing. Read our latest on why that is.

ATF nominee Steve Dettelbach picks up critical Senate endorsements. “I feel confident he’ll be able to lead this” agency, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia announced Thursday, saying he would vote yes on President Biden’s pick to lead the agency. A spokesperson for Senator Jon Tester of Montana later said Tester would also support the nominee. Their assent, along with that of Senator Angus King of Maine — whose opposition was instrumental in sinking David Chipman, Biden’s first pick — means the ATF will likely soon have its first Senate-confirmed leader since 2015. 

The House passed a federal red flag law. The measure would allow family members, law enforcement, and others to ask federal courts to grant temporary gun removals for people deemed to be at risk of harming themselves or others. The bill, which passed mostly on a party-line vote, would also create a federal program to incentivize the 31 states that haven’t adopted red flag laws to enact them and support those that have. Only a version of the latter provision is being considered by Senate negotiators, who have largely ruled out the rest of what the House passed this week. 

Grand Rapids-area DA charges police officer over fatal shooting of Patrick Lyoya. On April 4, white officer Christopher Schurr shot the 26-year-old Congolese immigrant in the back of the head after pulling him over. Shortly thereafter, the Grand Rapids Police Department released several videos that recorded the confrontation with the officer. Two showed the officer fatally shooting Lyoya, which included a struggle over the officer’s stun gun. The shooting sparked citywide protests demanding justice for Lyoya, whose family said he was “killed like an animal.” On Thursday, following an investigation by the Michigan State Police, the Kent County prosecutor announced he would charge Schurr with second-degree murder.

Facebook bans gun sales on its platform. It also gives violators 10 strikes before they’re removed. That’s according to an internal company policy that was obtained by The Washington Post. Meanwhile, the company has a five-strikes policy for people who actively flout the ban on gun buying and selling or who actively call for violence or praise certain extremist organizations. Reporting by The Wall Street Journal and The Trace’s Champe Barton found that sellers on Facebook Marketplace have regularly hosted coded gun listings to evade the company’s ban, and that the practice continued to be widespread even after the company vowed to remove violators.

Michigan gubernatorial candidate arrested over role in the U.S. Capitol insurrection. Ryan Kelley, a Republican, was charged with four misdemeanors — including committing violence against a person or property on restricted grounds — for participating in the events of January 6, 2021. Kelley, a real estate broker, was also the primary organizer of an armed protest against pandemic lockdown measures at the Michigan State Capitol in April 2020, and showed up with members of a local militia group outside a ballot-counting facility after the 2020 election. “Becoming too closely aligned with militias — is that a bad thing?” he said in 2021.

The Trace is hiring a local reporter to cover Philadelphia starting in the summer or fall of 2022. The reporter will be able to work remotely, or, if there’s interest, potentially from a shared workspace in Philadelphia. This is a full-time position. The deadline to apply is July 10. See details here.

Data Points

59 percent — the share of Americans who prioritize controlling gun violence over protecting gun rights, according to a new PBS NewHour/NPR/Marist poll, up 10 percentage points from 2013. Another 92 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of independents prioritized controlling gun violence. Overall support for prioritizing gun rights dropped to 35 percent — but remained at 70 percent for Republicans and 56 percent for gun owners.

72 percent — the share of Americans who said recent mass shootings would make them more likely to vote in the November midterms, including 84 percent for Democrats and 65 percent for Republicans. [PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist].