A grand jury in Uvalde County, Texas, has been impaneled to investigate the 2022 mass shooting at Robb Elementary School, with the possibility that criminal charges could be brought over the botched police response to the attack. The development came one day after the Justice Department released a scathing 575-page report on the law enforcement reaction detailing the “cascading failures of leadership, decision-making, tactics, policy and training” that led to delays in confronting the shooter. [Uvalde Leader-News/The Texas Newsroom/The Texas Tribune/The New York Times]
With gun reforms stalled in Congress, voters in at least four states are looking to change their firearm restrictions through citizen-led ballot initiatives — and the 2024 election promises more gun reforms on the ballot than ever before. Arizona residents are attempting to relax firearm restrictions for lawful users of marijuana; in Oregon and Washington, they’re trying to roll back reforms approved by voters in previous elections. And in Missouri, residents have submitted measures to reinstate gun laws that were stripped over the past two decades.
The initiatives in Missouri, however, face an uphill battle. Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, is an ardent defender of gun rights. He’s also known for rewriting ballot initiatives that don’t align with his politics. Ashcroft has presented many of this year’s gun reforms as a threat to Second Amendment rights — and his wording could sway voters. The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia has a roundup of the initiatives voters may see at the polls and how Ashcroft’s summaries differ from what residents submitted.
What to Know Today
It’s been a year since a shooter killed 11 people at Star Ballroom in Monterey Park, California, and a year since Brandon Tsay wrestled the weapon away when the shooter moved on to the dance studio that Tsay’s family owns nearby. Many survivors have resumed dancing, both to heal and as an expression of defiance. Tsay has been on a journey of healing, too — and now, he’s publicly calling for gun reforms. [The Guardian/NBC]
America entered 2023 in a crisis of violent crime and a depleted police force. It left with a historic drop in murders — even as police forces continued shrinking. What happened? [The Atlantic]
Citing Bruen, a federal appeals court struck down a Pennsylvania law barring 18- to 20-year-olds from carrying firearms in public during a state of emergency. Meanwhile, Democrats in the state House advanced several gun restrictions, including a ban on the sale of automatic and semiautomatic firearms. [Reuters/Associated Press]
San Francisco public high school students staged a classroom walkout to protest what they say are inadequate lockdown policies and a lack of safety infrastructure; the demonstration came after two students at two campuses reportedly each brought guns to school on the same day last month. [San Francisco Chronicle]
Several years ago, gun influencer Larry Vickers approached the police chief of a 700-person North Dakota town with a request: Could he help Vickers import a machine gun? Now, Vickers is at the center of a federal case over an apparent gun-running operation that targeted small-town police chiefs to illegally import numerous heavily regulated weapons into the U.S. [The Wall Street Journal]
Use of New York’s extreme risk protection order law has surged since the state strengthened it in the wake of the 2022 mass shooting in Buffalo. The law was used to respond to dangers including a man who threatened to attack a Tops supermarket location and a student who allegedly talked about shooting a teacher. [The Washington Post]
At least 380 — the number of law enforcement officers from about two dozen local, state, and federal agencies who responded to the 2022 mass shooting in Uvalde. [The Texas Tribune]