A New Legal Headache for the NRA


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

Happy Wednesday, Bulletin readers. Our reporting on the NRA’s court battles continues with the discovery of a document that may create a new headache for the group. Meanwhile, a poll turns up yet another thing that most gun owners and non-gun owners agree on: Neither want blueprints for 3-D printed guns to circulate unchecked. Those stories and more in your midweek news roundup.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

NEW from THE TRACE: An attorney representing the NRA in its high-stakes court battles failed to disclose that he was fined for attempting to improperly influence potential jurors and witnesses. As the National Rifle Association pursues lawsuits against state regulators and a longtime business ally over the implosion of its self-defense insurance, the gun group has enlisted the services of a high-powered attorney named William A. Brewer III. He’s known for representing celebrities and huge corporate clients, but his resume also includes a less flattering entry: a six-figure fine for attempting to improperly influence potential jurors and witnesses. In court papers required for Brewer to represent the NRA in one of its cases, Brewer did not acknowledge the 2016 episode, falsely affirming that he has never been disciplined. “This is a serious violation,” a law professor tells Alex Yablon — one with the potential to get him kicked off the case. UPDATE: After Alex brought this to the attention of the judge yesterday, the court summoned Brewer to appear on September 14 and explain the omissionRead our story here.

Gun owners agree: blueprints for 3D-printed guns shouldn’t be unregulated. A new Axios poll conducted last week found that eight out of 10 Americans oppose the proliferation of “ghost gun” schematics via the Internet. Among gun owners, disapproval stands at 76 percent. Other takeaways: 48 percent of Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA, a 4 percent rise since the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, and a slight majority of Americans disapprove of President Trump’s gun policies.

Meanwhile, libraries in Broward County, Florida, took their 3D printers offline out of concern that someone may use them to print weapons. The library director made the move Monday to remove the threat of “anything that could be printed to harm other customers and staff,” and cited a shooting that wounded a man across the street the main library in Fort Lauderdale last week.

Columbus, Ohio, is appealing a court decision overturning the city’s ban on bump stocks. On Tuesday, City Attorney Zach Klein said he filed an appeal to last month’s ruling, which agreed with two local gun groups that state law prevents cities from regulating gun accessories. “We remain confident that bump stocks are an accessory that we have the legal authority to regulate,” Klein said in a press release. The gun groups also sued Cincinnati over its bump stock ban, which was temporarily blocked by a judge in July.

A Sandy Hook parent can’t convince Twitter and WordPress to boot mass shooting conspiracy theorists. Leonard Pozner, who has made it his mission to confront people who say the 2012 massacre was staged, has convinced Facebook, Amazon, and YouTube to remove content containing false claims about his son’s death. But The New York Times reports that he’s having less luck with Twitter and WordPress, a popular online publishing platform (which we use here at The Trace). Each time Pozner reaches out to WordPress, he says he receives “very automated…very cold” responses about “fair use of the material.” Says Pozner: “They have taken this incorrect interpretation of freedom of speech to an extreme.”

Twitter banned Alex Jones for a week after he reportedly tweeted a link to a video calling for supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready. As of last week, Twitter declined to remove Jones after admitting that he’d violated its rules, but the video apparently pushed the microblogging site to act. Yesterday, the platform suspended Jones’s posting privileges for seven days. The account for his fake news operation, InfoWars, was slapped with a weeklong suspension less than a day later. A fallback for Jones’s videos was short-lived: After Apple, Facebook, YouTube, and Spotify removed his content last week, he uploaded hours of video footage to Vimeo, which booted him from the platform 48 hours later.

A federal appeals court upheld a settlement in a class-action lawsuit against Remington over a faulty trigger mechanism. A three-judge panel in Missouri affirmed a district court’s order approving a multi-million-dollar settlement with consumers who say Remington’s Model 700 series of bolt-action rifles could potentially fire without pulling the trigger. The defect may have led to at least two dozen deaths and more than 100 injuries over the last 40 years. Last year, Remington agreed to replace some of the triggers in the 7.5 million rifles in circulation and issue $10 or $12 vouchers to other claimants. Plaintiffs’ lawyers objected that the company didn’t market the recall effectively and said the settlement was too low, but the appellate panel found it “fair, reasonable, and adequate.”

Indianapolis declared gun violence a public health issue. In a vote on Monday, the city council approved a non-binding resolution that recognizes the gunfire epidemic as one that affects brain development, leads to chronic disease, and instills trauma. Officials are hoping the designation will qualify the city for federal funding to fight the problem. One of the measure’s co-sponsors, a gunshot survivor herself, said ahead of the vote, “If gun violence isn’t a health issue, why are so many people dying?”

The Trace was named as an Online Journalism Awards finalist for general excellence in the “micro newsroom” category, which honors organizations with 15 or fewer employees. Fellow honorees include Postdata.club, PublicSource, and The New Food Economy. We are tickled to be named among a group of fine outlets producing outsized journalism with small staffs. And for this honor, we owe you, our readers, a big thank you for supporting and sharing our work!

ONE LAST THING

Rival gangs in Chicago teamed up to build a playground to mark an eight-month ceasefire. For years, the North Pullman neighborhood on the far South Side of Chicago was the scene of a bitter turf war between two gangs that resulted in senseless shootings. Last October, they brokered a ceasefire, and a Chicago police detective connected them to Chicago CRED, an anti-violence initiative founded in 2016 by former education secretary Arne Duncan and Laurene Powell Jobs of Apple. With funds solicited from corporate sponsors, like the Chicago White Sox, Chicago CRED led the construction of a playground. “You get to hang out, sit on the porch and not have to feel somebody’s jumping out of the car and start shooting,” former gang member Sherman Scullarck told the local CBS affiliate. “The kids can have somewhere to play peacefully.”





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