Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Daniel Acker/Bloomberg]

Daily Bulletin: The NRA Underfunded Pensions as CEO Wayne LaPierre Raked in Cash

Good morning, Bulletin readers. In today’s briefing: Pension documents provide the latest details on how the NRA’s financial crisis is hurting employees. For the third straight year, the same cities topped the list of highest homicide rates. And at least two children in Tennessee found guns and fired them this week, killing one.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: Our updated guide to murder rates in U.S. cities. Data compiled by our friends at American Violence show St. Louis, Baltimore, and Birmingham, Alabama, top the list for the third straight year. See where your city ranks, and how it’s changed over time, by searching our interactive breakdown. And remember the big picture: Nationally, homicide is well below its early ’90s peaks. But “murder inequality” continues to trap some city neighborhoods, and that’s where our focus should be.

The NRA has underfunded pensions for hundreds of its current and former employees. At NPR, Tim Mak builds on our earlier reporting about how the self-dealing and financial excesses of the gun organization’s leaders is hurting average National Rifle Association employees. According to the NRA’s 2019 pension documents, the group’s retirement plan is underfunded by $41 million. Last year, the organization froze the plan, meaning employees currently enrolled can no longer accrue further benefits. A charity watchdog calculates that NRA leader Wayne LaPierre is the second-highest-paid nonprofit boss, excluding hospitals and medical professionals.

The NRA’s top state lobbyist received at least $270,000 in undisclosed payments in 2018. Internal documents show that Marion Hammer was paid the money for an average of five hours of work per week. None of it was reported to state lobbyist regulators as required by Florida law.

Legislation in Congress would ban people convicted of hate crimes from owning guns. Democrats on Tuesday re-introduced the Disarm Hate Act in both the House and Senate. The bill would prohibit the sale of firearms to anyone convicted of assaulting someone based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. “Over and over again we have seen what happens when a convicted white supremacist, white nationalist, or neo-Nazi is able to purchase a gun,” said Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

Senator Kamala Harris would use executive action to ban the import of AR-15-style weapons. The Democratic presidential candidate announced Wednesday that she’d also use presidential authority to suspend all other assault weapon imports until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives studies whether those imports are permitted under current federal law. Harris has said previously that she would be willing to use executive action to pass background checks and other gun reform policies.

The Trump Organization falsely blames gun violence for a decline in revenue at its Chicago hotel. “It’s sad to say, but the perceived threat of gun violence has harmed visitation to the destination,” read a statement from the president’s company. Competing Chicago hotels, meanwhile, have increased revenue since Trump took office, according to The Washington Post.

New York City recorded the fewest shootings in a week since police began keeping track. Between May 6 and May 12, the NYPD recorded only three incidents of gunfire, the lowest number in at least 25 years. Officials credited community policing strategies, like more beat cops, and attempts to regain public trust.

The Colorado GOP is trying to recall a Democrat who sponsored a new “red flag” law. The campaign is directed at state Representative Tom Sullivan over his sponsorship of the new law. Sullivan, whose son died in the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting, says he stands by his bill. Flashback: similar recall effort in 2013 resulted in the ouster of two Democratic state lawmakers who had supported post-Aurora gun reforms, including universal background checks and a ban on high-capacity magazines.

An NRA-backed lawsuit is challenging Illinois’s gun licensing law. Gun rights advocates allege that Illinois’s Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) Act, which requires individuals to pass a background check, provide a photo, and pay a fee before they can purchase a gun, violates the Second Amendment.

A Tennessee 8-year-old unintentionally shot his mother after finding a gun. During a Tuesday night baseball game in Millington, Tennessee, the boy fired a gun he found inside an antique WWII vehicle on display at the stadium. Police say he believed it was a toy. The mother was rushed to the hospital and is expected to survive. The gun’s owner is facing a charge of reckless endangerment with a deadly weapon.

ONE LAST THING

Johns Hopkins researchers launched a free online course for young gun violence prevention activists. The course, launched yesterday on Coursera, is the first class related to gun violence offered on the online learning platform. Curriculum designers say the March For Our Lives movement inspired them to provide actionable academic research on gun violence prevention to high school and college-aged people. “Following the shooting in Parkland and the youth advocacy that we saw, we noticed there was a gap in knowledge,” one of them said. “We wanted to create one resource that would be freely available to anyone.”