Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[JIM LO SCALZO/AP]

Daily Bulletin: Ex-NRA Donors’ Fraud Suit Is Cleared to Proceed

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Another official warning of election violence. On the same day that President Trump escalated concerns about voter intimidation with remarks during the first 2020 debate, the FBI’s Dallas office issued an intelligence report outlining the potential for violence by “boogaloo” followers, with “the presidential elections acting as a potential flashpoint.” The threat assessment drew in part on two unnamed human sources and notes that boogaloo adherents’ “increased ‘patrolling’ or attendance at events” viewed as potential venues for advancing their cause. ICYMI: What states can do to protect voters from armed harassment or suppression.

  • Just one of the Boys: Hours after Trump declined to condemn white supremacists, militias, and the neo-fascist Proud Boys in particular on the debate stage, Portland, Oregon, police arrested a follower of the group who brandished a gun at left-wing protesters last month. The Proud Boys have claimed the man is not a member, though he has a “PROUD BOY” tattoo and has helped to promote their rallies.

NEW from THE TRACE: On gun laws, Barrett’s philosophy leaves little room for public safety. After establishing an individual right to bear arms in the Heller ruling, the Supreme Court has scarcely returned to Second Amendment questions, leaving lower courts to fashion their own test through which to run subsequent challenges to gun restrictions. Generally, even many Republican-appointed judges have considered a local government’s justifications for enacting a gun regulation — for instance, public safety concerns. It’s a framework that has frustrated gun rights advocates, who hope Barrett is the fix. Her preferred “text, history, and tradition” test calls on courts to ask only one question to determine a regulation’s constitutionality: Is there some kind of historical precedent for a current gun law? Read Trace contributor Olivia Li’s latest piece for more on the implications of that legal standard.

The NRA must face fraud claims from a group of former donors. In a complaint filed last August, the ex-National Rifle Association benefactors alleged that the group had improperly used their money to cover, among other things, $2 million a month in legal fees and hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing and private plane trips for NRA head Wayne LaPierre. A federal judge in Nashville, Tennessee, just ruled that plaintiffs have standing to continue their suit. “Given the extent of the alleged misspent funds – in both duration and volume – the Court finds Plaintiffs’ allegation that the NRA knew donated funds would not be used to advance the mission of the NRA sufficiently plausible to state a claim,” Judge William L. Campbell, Jr. wrote in his decision. The judge dismissed a related racketeering claim and also tossed claims against LaPierre and the NRA Foundation. David Dell’Aquila, who’s leading the plaintiffs, told The Trace he was “tickled to death” by the decision, and that he has no plans to settle until LaPierre leaves his post and the NRA establishes independent oversight. A spokesperson for the NRA didn’t return a request for comment. — Kevin T. Dugan, Trace contributor

In separate NRA legal news: Filings show that Wayne LaPierre has retained an attorney in the New York attorney general’s case. P. Kent Correll is a former associate of Bill Brewer, who is already representing the gun group in Attorney General Letitia James’ suit to dissolve the NRA and bring civil charges against four current and former executives including LaPierre. Notably, Correll — like Brewer — has previously donated to Democratic politicians, including Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, with whom the NRA is also battling in court. Correll’s involvement in the case came to light in a legal filing spotted by my colleague Will Van Sant.

Calculating the cost of gun violence for health insurers. Medical costs borne by private insurance carriers skyrocketed up to 20-fold during the six months after a policyholder was shot, according to a study of a Blue Cross Blue Shield group plan in a five states. The impact on out-of-pocket health care bills paid by individual victims was also significant: A 133 percent rise for those treated and released, and more than six-fold for those hospitalized. “The findings of this study powerfully demonstrate how firearm injuries could strain health care systems and devastate communities,” a co-author said.

DATA POINT

California is home to 18 of the country’s 80 known online ghost gun retailers, more than any other state. That’s according to a state AG’s lawsuit against the Trump administration aimed at cracking down on the proliferation of the DIY weapons. [The Associated Press]