Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Members of the Oath Keepers speak during a rally outside the White House in 2017. [AP Photo/Susan Walsh]

Daily Bulletin: Militia Rhetoric Gets Even More Alarming

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Militias escalate threats as experts raise the alarm. Talking Points Memo collects the frightening rhetoric coming from some far-right militia leaders. For years, groups like the Oath Keepers have issued predictions of a coming civil war, many of them spun from wild conspiracy theories. But after the shooting deaths of left- and right-wing protesters in Kenosha and Portland, they are saying the first shots have been fired and ramping up their calls to arms. Guns beget guns: The New York Times talked to racial justice activists about how the presence of militias and vigilantes is increasing the precautions they take. One organizer says he discourages carrying firearms, but understands why some marchers are considering arming themselves. The stakes: “The far right is now anointing themselves the only force standing between order and chaos,” an expert at the Southern Poverty Law Center told the paper, “a dangerous step toward normalizing the political violence that they already hold a monopoly on.”

  • What’s a local leader to do? Plenty, says former Justice Department official Mary McCord, who’s developed a legal framework for curbing paramilitary activity. In an interview with PBS NewsHour, she (again) pressed her case: “This may require cities, and maybe even with the help of the state and even the federal government, if necessary, to actually enforce the types of time, place and manner restrictions that are permissible under the Constitution in order to allow for peaceful protests. That means things like not allowing militias, not allowing violence, not allowing firearms where it’s possible to ban them.”

A bicycle stop led to a fatal police shooting in California. Two deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department say they stopped a man who broke an unspecified cycling law. The man fled, and police said they fired on him after he dropped a bundle of clothes that allegedly included a gun. Protesters and residents who gathered at the scene questioned why fatal force was necessary. “If it’s on the ground, why shoot? That means he was unarmed.” Treating police narratives with caution: As the case develops, a timely investigation from The Los Angeles Times found that the LASD spends nearly $5 million a year for a public relations operation with a pattern of misinformation. “We’re spending good money to be lied to,” said one advocate.

As gun crime rises, violence prevention dollars are MIA. A Guns and America report highlights the shooting uptick in Maryland’s cities — similar to the picture in many metropolitan areas across the country — just as evidence-backed solutions like street outreach work are facing major cuts. Maryland is one of a handful of states to have a government-supported Violence Intervention and Prevention Program, but the Republican governor in May vetoed a requirement to provide $3.6 million in annual funding. Experts say the lack of funds will likely mean scaled-back staffing in key neighborhoods of Baltimore and other cities facing elevated levels of violence. Context from The Trace: Lakeidra Chavis reported last week on budget difficulties facing a pioneering anti-violence program in Chicago.

NEW from THE TRACE: Gun sales leveled off in August, but remain close to record highs. Americans bought an estimated two million guns last month, making it the fifth-highest month on record for sales, according to our updated tracker. While gun companies ride the wave, some are making an election push. The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action announced that a half dozen firearm manufacturers and sellers will match up to $1 million in donations to the gun group. The news comes as the NRA faces declining membership revenues even as organizational costs have soared.

House Dems ask the IRS to investigate the NRA’s tax-exempt status. In making their formal request, the chairpersons of the Ways and Means Committee and the Oversight and Reform Committee cited the New York attorney general’s suit seeking the gun group’s dissolution. “In light of this new information, we respectfully ask that you review whether the recent allegations against the NRA and NRA Foundation warrant reconsideration of the organizations’ federal tax-exempt status.” said Illinois Representative Brad Schneider, one of the two members leading the new effort, who cited The Trace’s reporting when he previously launched a probe into the NRA’s spending.

We forgot something. In yesterday’s newsletter, we shared a great investigation from The Chicago Reporter and Injustice Watch on the racial inequalities of policing in Wisconsin. Regrettably, we neglected to include a link to the article. Here it is.

DATA POINT

Shootings in New York City have now topped 1,000 for the year, close to double the total at the same point in 2019, according to police data. But the department’s numbers also show that year-to-date shooting incidents are still near historic lows — 2 percent lower than in 2010, and 73 percent lower than in 1993. [NYPD]