What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: Wayne and Susan LaPierre ordered their hunted elephants turned into stools and a trashcan. In early fall of 2013, an export company in Botswana prepared a shipment of animal parts for Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, and his wife, Susan. One of the business’s managers e-mailed the couple a list of trophies from their recent hunt and asked them to confirm its accuracy: one cape-buffalo skull; two sheets of elephant skin; two elephant ears; four elephant tusks; and four front elephant feet. The LaPierres’ effort to keep this shipment and the related taxidermy work secret spanned four months and involved multiple individuals, companies, and countries, records obtained by The Trace’s Mike Spies show. They also appear to confirm allegations from the New York State attorney general that LaPierre violated NRA policy when a contractor paid their tab. Read the full story, published in partnership with The New Yorker.
Remington offers Sandy Hook families nearly $33 million if they’ll agree to settle. The bankrupt company offered to pay nine families who sued after a gunman used a Bushmaster AR-15 to kill 26 people at the Connecticut elementary school in 2012. Just over $3 million would go to the relatives of each victim represented in the suit. Still, the payout would be just a fraction of the damages sought: Court documents from February show wrongful death claims totaling more than $225 million, and punitive damages potentially exceeding $1 billion, Reuters reported. This comes just weeks after Remington turned over 18,000 random cartoons and 15,000 irrelevant pictures, including people go-karting and dirt-biking, during discovery. The case hinges on the marketing of the weapon used in the 2012 massacre. The case is a rare one that has proceeded to trial despite the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that shields gunmakers from lawsuits over their weapons being used in a crime.
A look at an expanded mental health response team in Colorado. Summit County is creating a new mobile crisis unit that will respond to locals who call the state’s suicide hotline and adding two units to its co-responder program, which pairs law enforcement with clinicians to respond to mental health emergencies. The goal is to slow the number of people who interact with jail and police solely because they have a mental health issue — in Colorado, 36 percent of people in prisons have a mental health diagnosis. The mental health responders go out in plain clothes and unmarked cars to put people at ease, though deputies do carry firearms. “We want to make them as comfortable as they can so we can help them as best we can,” a sheriff’s deputy told KUNC. “If they’re worried about four firetrucks and six police cars out in front of their house, that’s what they’re going to worry about, they’re not going to worry about trying to talk to us.”
Lessons from a decade of NYC’s Cure Violence programs. As cities around the nation grapple with increased gun violence, many are hoping that community violence intervention programs offer answers. About a decade ago, New York City implemented its Cure Violence program, which operates a network of formerly incarcerated people and those directly impacted by violence to reach communities, stop retaliatory violence, and divert at-risk youth from crime. For City & State New York, Greg Berman analyzes the promise and peril of a program the city leans on to reduce shootings. He notes that community intervention first and foremost needs funding to succeed, and that research into the tangible positive impacts of a program like Cure Violence — in the form of “empirical evidence from independent evaluators,” as well as anecdotal evidence from violence interrupters — is critical to building support for these kinds of programs. Research will also help temper the reactive voices that have begun advocating to abandon the Cure Violence approach in the face of rising shootings. “Proponents of Cure Violence should be careful not to oversell what the model can deliver — it is unlikely to eliminate the need for police,” he writes. “And critics should beware the urge to throw away the baby with the bathwater — the truth is that the Cure Violence programs could still be succeeding even if shootings don’t go down in the months to come.”
From victim to mentor for others recovering from shootings. When Oronde McClain was 10 years old, he was shot in the head during a drive-by shooting not far from his home in Philadelphia. It took years for him to recover physically, including a year and a half in a wheelchair and three years in a helmet to protect his head. The emotional pain took its toll, too. McClain tried to take his own life more than two dozen times, the first time at age 12. Now the 31-year-old psych tech at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center mentors youth affected by gun violence and uses his self-titled grassroots organization to hold anti-violence rallies, speak at schools, and meet with victims of gun violence. “I applaud everybody that’s trying to help out, but we need victims out here on the front lines to tell their stories,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “But they scared too. All the victims is scared.”
Listen: On WAMU’s “1A,” our reporter Lakeidra Chavis discussed her series investigating the impact of gun violence on survivors and communities, specifically in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. You can read her two-part series in English and in Spanish.
75% — the share of gun possession cases in which New York judges still set bail after the state’s bail reform law took effect. [Vera Institute of Justice via the New York Daily News]