What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: The Supreme’s Court gun decision could open this policy up to court challenges. The recent Bruen case effectively struck down discretionary, “may-issue” concealed handgun permitting rules. But there’s another gun licensing system that was not addressed in the opinion: permit-to-purchase, which requires that people obtain a license to buy a firearm. There are 13 states that have such a policy, which give authorities the discretion to deny applicants a license in the interest of public safety, based on criteria beyond basic requirements like passing a background check. Now that the court has struck down may-issue rules for concealed carry, the related permit-to-purchase policy may be ripe for a court challenge, as well, legal experts tell Jennifer Mascia.

Judge’s blocking of Colorado town’s new gun restrictions shows the influence of Bruen. U.S. District Court Judge Raymond Moore issued a temporary restraining order against the town of Superior after gun rights groups and a local resident challenged the town’s gun ordinance that includes an assault weapons ban. The law was passed last year in the wake of a mass shooting at a Boulder supermarket. In his ruling, Moore wrote that he was sympathetic to the town’s rationale for passing the law, but referenced the Supreme Court’s test established in Bruen that tells courts to evaluate gun laws with respect to history and tradition only, not to concerns like public safety that guided the court’s previous “two-step test” for Second Amendment challenges. Moore wrote that he was “unaware of historical precedent that would permit a governmental entity to entirely ban a type of weapon that is commonly used by law-abiding citizens for lawful purposes, whether in an individual’s home or in public.” From The Trace: Chip Brownlee reported on the new test and how it makes challenges to gun regulations far more likely.

Senate Democrats introduce bill targeting illegal machine guns. In March, The Trace’s Alain Stephens reported with VICE News on the rise in auto sears, illegal machine gun conversion devices recovered by law enforcement and linked to criminal cases. Nine Senate Democrats hope to address the problem in new legislation introduced yesterday, where they cited our reporting in unveiling the bill. The Preventing Illegal Weapons Trafficking Act of 2022 mandates the development of a national strategy to stop the importation and trafficking of the devices and seize any profits that come from them. Part of the proposal would require the attorney general to include data on illegal gun modification devices in the DOJ’s annual gun trafficking report, something the government was not tracking before. Read more in a VICE News piece we re-published here.

New Jersey launches office to bring civil actions against law-breaking gun companies. A press release from the office of Acting AG Matthew J. Platkin billed the Statewide Affirmative Firearms Enforcement Office as the first such office in the nation for bringing civil enforcement against firearms companies. It will help enforce the recently enacted state law that authorizes the state Attorney General’s Office to bring claims against gunmakers and sellers that create a “public nuisance” related to making, distributing, importing, or marketing gun-related products. That law is similar to a New York law passed last year that was used to sue 10 gun companies last month. 

Police shoot and wound woman who allegedly fired gunshots at the Dallas airport. The incident happened late Monday morning when a 37-year-old woman pulled out a handgun and began shooting into the ceiling, police said. Responding officers shot her, arrested her, and took her to a hospital. There were no other injuries, but the incident caused a wave of panicked travelers and airport staff to flee. 

A memorial fund for a slain young journalist. Sierra Jenkins, 25, was caught in a crossfire on March 19 as she left a bar and restaurant in Norfolk, Virginia. She was an education reporter at The Virginian-Pilot and its sister newspaper, The Daily Press. “She was everything you’d want in a colleague and reporter,” one editor said. “And she had just started. There’s no telling what she could have done.” To commemorate her, the Education Writers Association and Georgia State University, her alma mater, created the Sierra Jenkins Memorial Fund to provide training to college journalists. You can find the donation link here.

Data Point

At least two — the number of major U.S. cities that have declared emergencies over gun violence in the last week, with Portland, Oregon, and Rochester, New York, becoming the latest places to make the designation amid still elevated pandemic violence.