Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Josh Powell, the NRA's former chief of staff.

Daily Bulletin: NRA’s Former No. 2 Comes Out For More Gun Reform

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: As mass shootings trend toward a five-year high, they’re taking a heavy toll on predominantly Black neighborhoods. More than 320 people have been killed and over 1,600 injured in 395 mass shootings this year, according to data from Gun Violence Archive. If the pace holds, this year’s total will be the highest tally since the organization began tracking mass shootings five years ago. But in keeping with other patterns in gun violence, the harm isn’t equally distributed: Nearly 50 percent of the shootings analyzed by The Trace took place in majority-Black census tracts, though less than 10 percent of census tracts nationally have majority Black populations.

  • Anti-violence activists say the lack of public response to the bloodshed feels dispiritingly familiar: “Nobody cares about us.”

Read the story, which was co-reported by The Trace’s Champe Barton, Chip Brownlee, J. Brian Charles, and Jennifer Mascia.

NRA boss Wayne LaPierre considered quitting his post during the group’s turbulent 2019, his former chief of staff claims in a new tell-all. Once considered LaPierre’s possible heir apparent, Joshua Powell departed the National Rifle Association earlier this year. Next week, he’s publishing a damning account of his former boss and organization. The New York Times got an advance copy and rounded up some of its juiciest claims:

  • LaPierre allegedly confided in Powell about stepping down last year after reporting by The Trace and others uncovered a web of apparent financial self-dealing at the organization. (An NRA spokesperson says it was routine succession planning.)
  • Lavish spending was so pervasive among NRA executives that Powell says he was chided for booking a Sheraton for a business trip. “We all stay at the Ritz,” he says he was told.
  • While the NRA’s red-meat rhetoric brings in donations, its political machine is overhyped, Powell writes. “As Wayne said to me on many occasions, ‘Josh, come on, you know it’s all smoke and mirrors.'”

Powell is one of several ex-NRA executives named in the New York attorney general’s suit to dissolve the gun group. The Times reports that he uses the book to address allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment, and improper spending made against him during his tenure. In the book, he also comes out for universal background checks and red flag laws, reasoning that they would broaden the NRA’s appeal to the swaths of moderate gun owners who support such measures.

“We’ve blundered into an untenable situation”: Private citizens acting as police. What led to the situation where a 17-year-old from Illinois could drive to Wisconsin, work alongside other armed citizens to protect businesses with the tacit approval of law enforcement, and fatally shoot two people without being immediately arrested? Writing in The Washington Post, gun law expert Darrell Miller points to three developments: the politics of the Second Amendment outpacing the courts, state laws allowing gun carry and expansive standards for deadly force, and social media’s effect on in-person organizing. “The tolerance for heavily armed, self-appointed peacekeepers in our public square is not required by the Second Amendment and is wildly imprudent as a matter of social policy.” The difference gun restrictions can make: “Why isn’t California seeing crowds of gun-toters at protests?” asks The San Francisco Chronicle. “It’s against the law.”

D.C. police fatally shoot 18-year-old Black man. The incident happened Wednesday afternoon after two cops stopped a car in the Southeast part of the city following a report about a man with a gun, the police said. As people reportedly fled from the vehicle, an officer fired and fatally shot Deon Kay. The police chief said his department was investigating why the officer fired and city officials said they would release body cam footage of the incident as soon as today. A large crowd protested outside a police station near the shooting site to demand more information. “They took my baby, they just took my baby from me,” said Kay’s mother.

Three men who said they narrowly escaped gunfire in a parking lot blame anti-Black vigilantism. Last week, Kendrick Clemons, Charles McMillon Jr., and his son were dropping off a moving van in Tallahassee, Florida when they heard a gunshot. They turned to see a white couple pointing guns at them and ordering them to stop. More gunfire followed as the men fled. The couple, the owners of a strip mall, said they were staking out in the parking lot to stop thieves and denied the incident was racially motivated. They were arrested and charged with aggravated assault. “They saw three Black people, unarmed, dropping off a U-Haul,” said McMillon. “They got guns, they started shooting. That’s why it’s racially motivated.”

DATA POINT

Less than 30 seconds — how quickly the GOP-led Wisconsin Legislature adjourned a special session on police reform called by the Democratic governor in the aftermath of Jacob Blake’s death. [NBC News]