What To Know Today

NRA boss Wayne LaPierre feels “very good about where we are.” On the final day of testimony in a series of critical hearings in the National Rifle Association’s Texas bankruptcy case, LaPierre ticked off his achievements since becoming CEO in 1991. LaPierre said he expanded the group’s appeal beyond hunters and gun enthusiasts by making the NRA a “freedom brand” that drew mainstream support. In doing so, LaPierre said he’d sought to avoid the political fringe. “If anybody thinks you are training for a revolution in the woods, or you are part of some militia group that thinks you’re going to take the law into its own hands, there’s the door,” he recalled telling one group. In recent years, LaPierre said he has worked to implement robust financial controls. One of the things he’s proudest of in his career, he testified, is “taking this organization in the last three years down this principled path” of legal compliance. An attorney for the New York Attorney General’s Office, which sued the NRA in August and is seeking to have the bankruptcy dismissed, tried to undercut LaPierre’s claim that the NRA had cleaned up, pointing to areas — from executive contracts to an internal travel policy — where problems appear to have persisted. Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Monday. — Will Van Sant, staff writer

More states advance permitless carry bills. Already in 2021, four states have passed laws allowing gun owners to carry firearms in public without a permit. Now that number looks set to increase. In Louisiana, a permitless carry proposal advanced through the Senate and passed a House committee on Wednesday. In Alabama, a House committee approved permitless carry legislation. And on Thursday in Texas, where permitless carry has already passed the House, a Senate committee heard from more than 100 people who testified for and against the bill. “I don’t have a problem with people having guns,” said one firearms instructor who testified against the bill. “I just need to have them trained and educated. So I asked you to not fix what’s not broken.” After 10 hours of testimony, the committee passed the bill. Republican Governor Greg Abbott recently said he plans to sign it if it reaches his desk. 

Senate hearing on Indianapolis shooting highlights danger of sporadic enforcement of red flag laws. Last year, police seized a shotgun from the man accused of fatally shooting eight people at a FedEx facility in April. But prosecutors, citing time constraints, did not seek an extreme risk protection order, which would have barred him from buying or possessing guns. “Had an extreme risk order been obtained, eight families likely might not be grieving right now,” Josh Horwitz, the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, testified before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, which is considering the creation of federal grants to incentivize states to adopt red flag laws. 

Appeals court lifts ban on distribution of 3D-printed gun blueprints. A Ninth Circuit panel lifted restrictions on the export of schematics for DIY weapons, paving the way for their sharing online. The panel also ruled in favor of transferring regulatory control of 3D-printed-gun files from the State Department to the Commerce Department. The Obama administration first cracked down on the distribution of the files in 2013 by adding them to a list of regulated munitions, but the Trump administration reversed course in 2018, agreeing to loosen the rules as part of a settlement with a 3D-printed-gun company. The Ninth Circuit’s decision comes after President Biden announced plans to regulate unserialized ghost guns.

More gun laws predict lower rates of firearm suicide and homicide. A new paper from Rutgers University examines the effect of a state’s overall “gun law culture” on firearms deaths. Looking at data from 1991 to 2017, researchers found states with stricter laws had firearm suicide rates close to half of those with looser regulations. The link between firearm homicides and regulations was weaker but still significant. “We expanded the breadth of gun laws and data we could have to include as much as possible in the data to really pick up on any patterns that might be there,” John Gunn, a researcher at the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center and the study’s lead author, told The Trace. 

For the first time, federal prosecutors refer alleged plot to kidnap Michigan governor as “domestic terrorism.” In a new indictment, the government says the actions of the men who allegedly planned to storm the capitol in Lansing and kidnap Gretchen Whitmer last year met the legal definition of the term, which includes “engag[ing] in activities…intended to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” While domestic terrorism isn’t a crime on its own, the classification could enhance the defendants’ penalties if they are found guilty.

Data Point

5,090 — the number of people in the U.S. who have died of gunshot wounds (excluding suicide) during President Biden’s first 100 days in office. [Gun Violence Archive]