Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. [Flickr user Joe Loong]

Daily Bulletin: NRA Lawyer Doubles Down on Claims of Corporate Duress

Hello, readers. In today’s Bulletin: The NRA is doubling down on claims of corporate duress made in court documents. The Texas gun store that supplied the weapon used in the Sutherland Spring church shooting is facing a lawsuit. Plus, we dug into our archives to find the answers to some of the first round of queries in our new “Ask The Trace” series. Those stories and more, below.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

The National Rifle Association insists its business problems are real. Last week, court filings surfaced in which the NRA made dire predictions about the repercussions of warnings issued by Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York and the state’s financial services regulator regarding the risks of working with the group. In the amended lawsuit, the NRA complained that it has had difficulty finding corporate insurance and deposit banking services and may be “unable to exist” unless a court reins in New York officials. Skeptics questioned whether the NRA’s claims are part of a legal strategy — but yesterday an attorney for the group doubled down. In a statement to Rolling Stone, its lawyer William Brewer III wrote “our client is suffering setbacks with respect to the availability of insurance and banking services” and said the state’s actions, “if left unchecked, will further harm the NRA.”

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew Cuomo is asking more states to join the fray. In a letter on Monday, Cuomo urged other governors to follow his lead and block the sale of the NRA’s self-defense insurance, Carry Guard, in their states. Cuomo also offered to provide support and assistance to states that seek legal action. 

The store that sold the weapon used to kill 26 people at a Texas church is being sued. In a lawsuit filed Friday, two survivors of the Sutherland Springs church shooting are seeking more than a million dollars each for physical and mental anguish, disfigurement, and medical expenses. They allege that a Texas gun store was negligent in selling a gun with a 30-round magazine to the gunman, who was a resident of Colorado, where magazines with capacities over 15 rounds are prohibited. From The Trace archives: Experts say bans on high-capacity magazines, not assault rifles, are the most likely to limit mass shooting carnage.

YouTube permanently banned Alex Jones. The video streaming service announced on Monday that it was taking down Jones’s content, following other tech platforms like Apple and Spotify. YouTube said that Jones’s conspiracy theories, including those about the Sandy Hook shooting, violate the company’s policies against child endangerment and hate speech.

Maria Butina’s billionaire backer has close ties to the Russian government. Konstantin Nikolaev, who reportedly gave money to the alleged Russian agent, has worked with two Kremlin-backed banks, The Guardian reports. Nikolaev has also done business with two Russian oligarchs who are under U.S. sanctions.

All five Democratic candidates for governor in Florida vowed to repeal “stand your ground.” During a church service in Clearwater, Florida, the gubernatorial hopefuls took to the pulpit one by one and promised to challenge Florida’s robust self-defense law, which eliminates the “duty to retreat” before using lethal force in public spaces. The controversial law is in the spotlight again after a white gun carrier, who has gone uncharged, shot a black man over a parking space last month.

One person died and four were injured in Baltimore shootings during an attempted cease-fire weekend. Despite a community group’s plea to Baltimore residents to hold fire for 48 hours between Friday and Sunday, several people were shot in the city, beginning early Saturday morning. Cease-fire organizers visited the sites of the shootings for a ritual cleansing of the space, waving sage and holding hands. “A very dark thing happened here today,” one organizer told the crowd. “We leave love and light right here.”

Gunfire erupted at a “Peace in the City” event in Florida. An armed bystander with a concealed carry permit shot a man who opened fire on a crowded park in Titusville, where people were gathered to distribute back-to-school supplies. The shooting stemmed from a fistfight that had taken place earlier.

A New Jersey man unintentionally shot himself and his friend while showing off his gun. The two men, both in their 40s, were admiring a .380-caliber Beretta semi-automatic handgun on Saturday night in Fair Lawn when the weapon discharged, firing one round. The bullet hit the gun owner in the hand and his friend in the hip.

ONE LAST THING

Your questions about guns in America, answered. This weekend, we launched Ask The Trace, a special project powered by the curiosity of Trace readers. Here’s how it works: You tell us what you wonder, big or small, about gun violence, gun laws, or related issues. You vote on which questions you want us to dig into — be on the lookout for the first voting round, to be announced in future newsletters. Then we bring you the answers.

We’ve received dozens of questions since we kicked off on Saturday. Some, we can address by mining articles in The Trace’s archives. Including:

Which states have red flag laws?

Currently, there are 13 (you can see them all in our red flag tracker.) Similar laws are also under consideration in three states, and we’ll be updating our post as they come to resolution.

How does someone buy a gun on the internet? Does it have to go through a licensed dealer like any other gun? Does it get mailed to your house? 

The short answer: it depends. When guns are purchased through a gun store’s website, the buyer is subject to a background check. The seller then mails the gun to a local licensed dealer for pick up. But with private gun sales arranged online, it’s not as simple. We’ve got a full explainer here.

How many Americans keep an “arsenal” of guns in their home?

“Arsenal” is of course a subjective term, but one study from Harvard effectively defined it as 10 or more guns. The researchers estimated that more than six million Americans own stockpiles of firearms that large. The same study found that 25 percent of gun owners have five or more guns.

What do you want to know? Ask us anything, and help us find unexplored stories, here.