Top Story

At the Virginia Capitol, a holiday created to recognize the towering legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated by gunshot, has morphed into an annual open-air debate about firearms policy.

On Monday — which was also “Lobby Day,” when residents are encouraged to visit lawmakers — heavily armed militia members joined other gun rights proponents in Richmond to protest a number of firearm safety proposals; mass shooting survivors and reform advocates followed with a rally of their own later in the day. [The Washington Post]

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has three big gun cases on its docket for 2024. These cases involve a law designed to protect domestic violence victims, a Trump-era ban on machine gun conversion devices, and the free speech rights of the gun industry. The outcomes of each could have major ramifications for firearms laws nationwide. 

Ahead of the high court’s decision-making season — and a term-and-a-half after the six-justice conservative majority upended gun laws across the country with their landmark Bruen decision — we explore the significance of each case and how they could change the regulatory environment around guns.

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The Trajectory

U.S. gun policy influences life far outside the country’s borders. American firearms fuel cartel violence in Mexico, contribute to a gun violence epidemic in the Caribbean, and find their way to crime scenes across the globe. And though America’s gun laws have worldwide repercussions, other countries have had little sway over how the U.S. regulates firearms.

Global Action on Gun Violence, founded by longtime gun reform advocate and attorney Jonathan Lowy, wants to change that, by using international pressure as a lever to change domestic firearms policies. Lowy and his group are doing so through courts both inside and outside the U.S., and through human rights proceedings in international bodies. For the latest edition of The Trajectory, reporter Chip Brownlee spoke with Lowy about his strategy and how he believes it could change the course of America’s gun violence epidemic.

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What to Know Today

The Transportation Security Administration reported intercepting over 6,700 firearms in 2023, marking the second year in a row that the agency has found a record-high number of guns at airport security checkpoints. Most of the guns were loaded. [NPR

On New Year’s Eve, Vietnam veteran Roy Fred Giddens, who had long struggled with PTSD and mental illness, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago. His family wants to know how he was able to get a gun inside a VA hospital. [Chicago Sun-Times

Twenty-three children — the youngest just 2 years old, the oldest just shy of 18 — died by gunfire in Philadelphia last year. The stories of their lives and their deaths evince the scale of the city’s gun violence crisis, and how it most often touches Philly’s most vulnerable young people. [The Philadelphia Inquirer

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland introduced federal legislation to prohibit most paramilitary activity, including creating penalties for publicly engaging in “harmful or deadly paramilitary techniques” and falsely assuming the role of law enforcement, among other activities. Gun rights hard-liners often argue that paramilitary activity is protected under the Second Amendment, but constitutional scholars hold that unregulated militia activity is illegal. [Vice

Dan Marburger, the principal who was critically injured as he protected students during a school shooting earlier this month in Perry, Iowa, died on Sunday. He had been the principal since 1995. The day after Marburger’s death, parents asked the school board to implement more safety measures before students return to campus. [Politico/Associated Press]

Data Point

93 percent — the proportion of guns intercepted by the TSA in 2023 that were loaded. [NPR]