What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE and USA TODAY: The ATF’s failure to produce public records keeps the gun industry in the shadows. Last month, we and our partners at USA TODAY published a sweeping analysis of nearly 2,000 gun dealer inspection reports, unearthed by gun reform group Brady, offering an unprecedented look at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’s light-touch regulation of the firearms industry. But the reports still represented only a tiny fraction of the inspections conducted in the past decade, and the ATF’s production of documents related to Brady’s Freedom of Information Act request is ongoing. On June 3, the agency acknowledged in a filing that even the core set of inspection reports we analyzed was incomplete. The slow and inconsistent production of documents is consistent with what activists, lawyers, and former employees say are widespread problems with the ATF’s FOIA program. And the agency has one of the worst track records among federal agencies when it comes to producing public information. Alain Stephens and Daniel Nass have that follow-up here.
Meanwhile, the would-be leader of the ATF will soon get a full Senate vote. In a Thursday vote, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee split along party lines on advancing the nomination of former ATF agent-turned-gun reform advocate David Chipman, President Joe Biden’s choice to be the first permanent ATF head since 2015. The tie means a final vote goes to the full chamber, where his confirmation hangs by a thread given the potentially universal opposition among Republicans. B. Todd Jones, who served under Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, was the only other Senate-confirmed ATF director in the last 15 years.
Violence prevention advocates react positively to — but note flaws in — Biden’s gun plan. In the president’s sweeping agenda, community-centered solutions addressing the root causes of violence were front and center. In his remarks, Biden acknowledged the work of people like DeVone Boggan, founder and CEO of Advance Peace. “DeVone runs a program across California and six other states that are all high-risk individuals and peace fellowships, complete with intensive mentoring and social services. It’s saving lives,” Biden said. Here’s what some other advocates said about the president’s focus on community-led programs:
- Brittany White, decarceration campaign manager for LIVE FREE, credited Biden’s plan with investing in formerly incarcerated people and system survivors, because “addressing gun violence without addressing the symptoms that inform violence will only leave our communities stuck in a cycle of dysfunction and trauma.” But she also hoped for stronger action on police reform: “We are disappointed that this plan also provides more funding to law enforcement with no meaningful reform in sight, when we know the solution lies in providing for families caught in the cycle of violence and building trust in historically under-invested communities.”
- Gregory Jackson Jr., national advocacy director for Community Justice Action Fund, told The Washington Post, “This is one of the most comprehensive steps that any president has taken. It is almost poetic how they are handling this.” Jackson met with other community leaders invited to the White House ahead of Biden’s remarks on Wednesday. On Twitter, Jackson called for Congress, governors and mayors to build upon Biden’s commitment “to ending this crisis in Black and Brown communities.”
New legislation would go beyond Biden’s $5B pledge toward community-led efforts. Members of the House of Representatives reintroduced the Break the Cycle of Violence Act, which would invest $6.5 billion in community-based violence reduction and youth opportunity initiatives. The legislation is again sponsored by Senator Cory Booker, and Representatives Steven Horsford and Lisa Blunt Rochester, but at a far higher expenditure than its last version. Over eight years, the bill proposes $5 billion in Department of Health and Human Services grants to community-based organizations and local governments, to support a slew of violence intervention and interruptions program, as well as $1.5 billion in Labor Department grants for local governments and organizations that provide job training, education, and apprenticeships for youth in communities disproportionately affected by gun violence.
In some of the most severe NYPD misconduct cases, officers lost only vacation days as punishment. That’s according to a ProPublica investigation of more than 1,300 officers included in the department’s March release of several years’ worth of disciplinary records. Reduced vacation time was the only penalty in more than 60 percent of cases ProPublica identified. “The loss of a vacation day or days translates to a significant amount of money — often thousands of dollars depending on the number of days docked,” a police spokesperson said.
Ohio Supreme Court says teachers can’t carry firearms without police training. The ruling struck down a policy allowing up to 10 employees with concealed handgun licenses and basic firearms training to carry weapons while in school. The policy, which parents challenged in court, was enacted after four students were injured at a shooting at a high school in Butler County, Ohio. But the state Supreme Court said the standards were insufficient, and that employees carrying guns at school must first “satisfactorily [complete] an approved basic peace-officer-training program” or possess 20 years of experience as a law enforcement officer.
3,044 — the number of high school seniors who would have graduated this year, but were killed by gun violence. David Keene, a former National Rifle Association president and current board member of the gun rights group, was apparently duped into speaking at a ceremonial graduation for “The Lost Class,” where he delivered remarks about opposing gun reform. [BuzzFeed News]