Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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[Bloomberg / Contributor]

Daily Bulletin: The NRA Is Funneling Money Into a Newly Formed Super PAC

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: The demise — and rebirth —of a notorious Nevada gunmaker. In 2018, federal agents revealed that guns made by Jimenez Arms Inc. had been funneled into an alleged trafficking network. Facing dual lawsuits over its role in the case, the gunmaker filed for bankruptcy in 2020. But  shortly after declaring the company insolvent, the company’s president, Paul Jimenez, had begun reorganizing the operation as JA Industries, the twelfth gunmaking business operated by members and close associates of the same extended family since 1970. In a new piece, published in partnership with The Daily Beast, staff writer Brian Freskos shows how Jimenez’s business arrangements were part of a long-running pattern of schemes that have repeatedly blocked victims seeking justice through the courts.

The NRA is funneling money into a newly formed super PAC. The National Rifle Association’s existing PAC, the Political Victory Fund (PVF), may take contributions, capped at $5,000 a year, only from NRA members. Spending restrictions also apply. The new super PAC, called just the Victory Fund, however, may accept donations of any size from individuals, corporations, nonprofits, and other PACs with no limits on what it can spend. While the PVF can give directly to candidates, the Victory Fund is prohibited from doing so and can’t coordinate its spending with parties or campaigns. According to Federal Election Commission filings, the new super PAC has collected more than $1 million since it was formed in March. All of the money has come from the NRA’s lobbying arm. The larger takeaway: While super PACs have donor disclosure requirements, “social welfare” organizations like the NRA do not. Anna Massoglia, a researcher at the Center for Responsive Politics, said it is increasingly common for social welfare groups to fund super PACs as a way to “skirt disclosure rules.” Records show the PAC has spent only $14,000 so far, all of it on in-kind contributions to the NRA’s lobbying arm. It’s evidence, Massaglia said, that the NRA and the Victory Fund are sharing resources and staff. Such setups, she said, “contribute to an erosion of campaign finance transparency.” — Will Van Sant, staff writer. 

Considering racial bias when evaluating the effectiveness of red flag laws. Studies have shown such laws have potential for reducing suicides and preventing mass violence. But, in a new commentary published in Injury Epidemiology, Jeffrey W. Swanson of the Duke University School of Medicine points to anecdotal data that suggests that gun removal orders could end up targeting Black people at a higher rate than their population. He called for further study. “Saving lives is not the only criterion for judging firearm laws’ effectiveness; the laws must also be equitable and fairly applied.”

How misinformation played a role in the spread of unrest in Chicago. On Sunday afternoon, the police shot a Black man in the South Side neighborhood of Englewood. Shortly thereafter, a viral social media post suggested it was a 15-year-old boy who had been fatally shot, which fueled unrest in downtown Chicago on Monday morning. Not until the next day did police say that the gunshot victim was a 20-year-old man who did not die from his injuries, and that they were charging him with attempted murder and illegal gun possession. Local activists told Block Club Chicago that the misinformation may have fueled the neighborhood’s initial anger. But they faulted police for not de-escalating a standoff with protesters in Englewood in the aftermath of the shooting, and for withholding details about its circumstances.

DATA POINT

The death of a 17-year-old during a mass shooting in Washington, D.C., on Sunday brought the city’s homicide toll to 118. It marks a 20 percent year-on-year increase from 2019, which ended with a decade-high homicide rate. [The Washington Post]