What To Know Today

Parties offer closing arguments in critical NRA bankruptcy phase. An attorney for the New York Attorney General’s Office on Monday called the National Rifle Association’s bankruptcy “a circus sideshow.” He urged a Texas judge to dismiss the case, arguing that the gun group was seeking to evade oversight in New York and had no financial justification for the move — claims that were amply supported by the gun group’s own leaders during testimony. The filing in Texas was “clearly and cavalierly the result of impermissible forum shopping,” the attorney also said, and was brought about by “intentionally deceiving” the NRA’s board of directors. An attorney for Ackerman McQueen, a public relations firm and former NRA ally turned foe which is a creditor in the case, told the judge that if he let the NRA use the bankruptcy court as a refuge from the New York Attorney General’s Office, which is pressing an enforcement action against the group, he would set terrible precedent and “throw gasoline on the ideological fires that are already raging out of control in this country.” The attorney general and Ackerman want the case dismissed with prejudice, which would prevent the NRA from immediately refiling the bankruptcy. An NRA bankruptcy attorney offered arguments for why the NRA had filed for bankruptcy in good faith and was a “real debtor.” Some of the arguments involved appeals to the law, others to mere appearance. “We have the look, we have the feel, we are a debtor that deserves to be here,” the attorney said. The judge is expected to rule in about a week. — Will Van Sant, staff writer

Meanwhile, the U.S. trustee came out against the NRA’s position in the case. In court, a lawyer for the Justice Department’s bankruptcy watchdog called for dismissing the gun group’s petition or appointing an outside monitor that would supplant current NRA leadership. The NRA’s lawyer expressed frustration with the government’s position: “Your honor, we have natural enemies. This Department of Justice may not see eye-to-eye with the National Rifle Association, but so be it, we have done the right thing.”

Chicago groups seek review of gunshot detection system. ShotSpotter deploys high-tech acoustic sensors in 111 American cities with the mission of detecting gunfire. The company says it offers a precise picture of shootings in a given neighborhood and improves response times for police and other first responders. But in Chicago, a coalition of neighborhood councils and advocacy nonprofits are asking a Cook County judge to review the system after the officer responding to a ShotSpotter alert fatally shot 13-year-old Adam Toledo in March. While the Chicago Police Department and mayor continue to praise ShotSpotter, the coalition said in a filing that the system is often unreliable, misreporting loud noises as gunshots or sending officers to areas where shooters are no longer present. And with Chicago’s sensors located largely in Black and Brown neighborhoods, the groups argue the technology primes police to mount aggressive and disproportionate responses. “These deployments create an extremely dangerous situation for residents, prompting unnecessary and hostile police encounters,” they write in the filing. 

Journalists on covering mass shootings and gun violence. In an online symposium, the  Committee to Protect Journalists interviewed four reporters, including The Trace’s Lakeidra Chavis, about the challenges of reporting on individual and collective trauma around the uniquely American epidemic — including the vicarious consequences for reporters on a trying beat. In Lakeidra’s words: “The trauma and the loss from gun violence affects everybody. As a reporter, I do see mass shootings happen in Chicago and they don’t make the national news, or they happen and we just forget about them, and it does weigh on me. But I wouldn’t describe it as hopelessness. When I talk to people, I see their resilience and their perseverance. There is an army of people in Chicago who are trying to make a difference. I think that is worth celebrating as we move collectively through these issues.”

“Armed doesn’t mean dangerous”: portraits of Black gun ownership. The Washington Post Magazine highlights the ongoing project of Black photojournalist Christian K. Lee, whose profiles work to “recondition myself, and others, toward the more positive view of Black people and guns: to promote a more balanced archive of images of African Americans with firearms by showing responsible gun owners — those who use these weapons for sport, hobby and protection.” Devin Meadows, 29, a gun owner from Texas, tells Lee: “We as African-Americans have been deprived of so many rights, so why not take advantage of the ones we have?”

The gun buying surge continues. Americans purchased another 1.8 million guns last month. The seasonally adjusted figure includes more than 1.1 million handguns and 710,000 rifles and shotguns. That’s about the same as April 2020, and the 11th-highest month on record. You can follow the historic gun sales boom with our tracker, which also provides a snapshot of the numbers for your state.

Data Point

45 — the number of people shot in Chicago over the weekend, five fatally. The city continues to face a surge in violence; between January and April, 1,040 people were shot and 195 were killed. [Chicago Sun-Times]