What To Know Today

The NRA ran a deficit of $12.3M in 2019. It was the fourth year in a row that the organization ended the year in the red, according to the gun group’s 990 Internal Revenue Service filing for last year. As The Trace has reported, the National Rifle Association saw member revenue drop to a seven-year-low in 2019 and legal costs rise as it faced investigations by attorneys general in New York State and Washington, D.C. The filing says that the NRA’s outside law firm, Brewer Attorneys & Counselors, was paid $24.8 million, making it the group’s top vendor in 2019. Earlier this week, The Trace examined the track record of the firm’s namesake, attorney Bill Brewer, who some NRA members and insiders accuse of protecting chief executive Wayne LaPierre to the detriment of the organization. 

  • According to the 990, LaPierre, who is being investigated for tax fraud, repaid the NRA $300,000 in travel expenses charged to the group from 2015 to 2019 that were found to be an excess benefit under the federal tax code. 
  • The NRA says it has identified other improperly paid benefits, according to the 990, including over $1 million in personal expenses that former head lobbyist Chris Cox charged the organization from 2015 to 2019. Cox, departed in June 2019 after a falling out with LaPierre, disputes the NRA’s allegation, according to the document. — Will Van Sant, staff writer

The Justice Department has hired a researcher who promotes the discredited theory that increasing gun ownership decreases crime. Economist John R. Lott Jr. started last month as a senior adviser for research and statistics at the agency’s Office of Justice Programs, a move first reported by Politico. The OJP conducts research and gathers statistics on criminal justice and disburses some $5 billion in grants per year. Lott became an influential voice in the gun rights movement following the publication of his 1998 book More Guns, Less Crime, the central conclusion of which has been debunked by subsequent analyses, as we detailed here. Lott also founded the Crime Prevention Research Center, which publishes studies with a pro-gun bent; a former colleague there confirmed he had left the organization. In 2003, Lott was caught creating a fake online persona to post comments defending his work. 

“He believed he could be a big part of that change:” Protest leader fatally shot in Louisville, Kentucky. Police say they are still investigating the circumstances leading to the death of of Hamza “Travis” Hagdy, who succumbed to his injuries at a city hospital Monday morning. This summer and fall, Hagdy was a fixture at demonstrations honoring Breonna Taylor and demanding police reforms. “What I’m hoping is he will become a symbol of the violence that’s going on, and people will finally give it the attention that we need to be giving to this record number of homicides in our city,” a youth advocate told The Louisville Courier Journal. Louisville hit its highest recorded homicide total in September

Incoming member of Congress says she may elect to go armed at the Capitol. She wouldn’t be the first. Lauren Boebert, whose Colorado restaurant encourages open carrying of firearms, won her House seat after earlier mounting a successful challenge against the Republican incumbent, whom she attacked as insufficiently pro-Trump. Though members of the public are barred from bringing firearms into the Capitol complex, congressional regulations allow exceptions for legislators. The Associated Press reports that Boebert’s office has reached out to Capitol Police about her carrying. Related: Guns are allowed in eight state legislature buildings. We spoke to local lawmakers who see that as a workplace hazard.

CEO who curbed the Dick’s Sporting Goods’ gun business steps down. After the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Ed Stack raised the age for buying guns at his stores to 21, stopped selling assault-style rifles, and eliminated the hunting departments in over half of the chain’s locations. Stack will become executive chairman of the company.

Update: In Monday’s edition, we linked to a report from independent journalist Ford Fischer about a group of far-right boogaloo followers intentionally carrying guns to defy Richmond, Virginia’s ordinance against firearms at protests. A Police Department spokesperson sent Fischer a statement defending the decision not to interfere by saying the ordinance applies to permitted events — which the protest wasn’t.

Data Point

0 — the number of homicide charges brought against San Francisco police officers in the city’s history before this week. On Monday, District Attorney Chesa Boudin filed manslaughter charges against an officer who fatally shot unarmed resident Keita O’Neil in 2017. [San Francisco Chronicle]