What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: The most memorable gun violence journalism of 2021. This year, our fellow journalists at other news outlets broke new ground on the issue, investigating topics like armed militias and vigilantism, policing, community violence, domestic violence, and suicides. While some of the pieces highlighted troubling new aspects of our gun violence crisis, many explored interventions and solutions that could help make communities across the country safer. With the year at an end, we are continuing a Trace tradition of compiling must-read stories produced by our peers in other newsrooms. Throughout another difficult and momentous year, this is the work that inspired us and pushed us to see things differently. We learned a lot from the pieces, and we hope you will, too. You can read the full list here

ICYMI: Wayne LaPierre testified he fled to the Bahamas for “security.” Documents and interviews tell a different story. Yesterday afternoon, we published a new installment in Mike Spies’s long-running series with The New Yorker about alleged financial mismanagement at the NRA. The story shows that LaPierre made dubious statements under oath during the NRA’s bankruptcy proceedings earlier this year. The NRA CEO, who was elected to a 31st term in October, testified that he used a contractor’s yacht in the summer of 2013 because his life was in imminent danger. He said that trip — the first of six annual summer yacht trips in the Bahamas — was a “security retreat” and the only way he could be safe after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School the previous December. But as Mike found out, the trip also coincided with the Bahamian wedding of LaPierre’s niece Colleen Sterner, who was later hired by the NRA and afforded extravagant perks that other staff did not receive.

New York attorney general targets toy guns. In a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and the chair of Consumer Product Safety Commission, Letitia James this week called for federal regulations to require “distinct visual differences” between “1) toy, lookalike, and imitation guns, 2) non-powder (bb, air and pellet) guns, and 3) firearms.” As The Trace has reported, toy guns are regularly designed to mirror their real-life counterparts, often down to precise details. Said James, “The ready availability of products that are visually indistinguishable from real, lethal powder firearms has, for decades, proven to have dangerous and — far too often — deadly consequences.”

Kentucky task force recommends training, updating warrant guidelines in light of Breonna Taylor shooting. The state’s attorney general announced the creation of the 18-member panel shortly after overseeing an investigation into the officers who killed Taylor during a no-knock raid in March 2020. No officers were charged over her death. After months of review, the panel recommended more training for officers, that state agencies use an electronic database to record the use of search warrants, and that police track the location of where warrants are conducted.

U.S. Representative Mary Gay Scanlon the victim of a gunpoint carjacking. The member of Congress was unharmed in the incident that took place Wednesday in a south Philadelphia park, her office said. Mayor Jim Kenney said he was “appalled to learn of this violent crime,” adding, “Everyone deserves to feel safe in our city, and sadly that hasn’t always been the case this year.”

Data Point

More than 400 — the number of unarmed drivers and passengers police have killed over the past five years, according to a New York Times investigation featured in our first end-of-the-year piece. [The Trace]