What To Know Today

At least $1 billion per year: the annual cost of treating gun injuries in American hospitals. The estimate comes from the Government Accountability Office, which produced a 53-page report after a request last year from congressional Democrats. (The estimate is also notable given that a budget rider known as the Dickey Amendment had effectively muzzled federal gun research from the 1990s until 2018.) The GAO also said the actual cost was likely much higher, because its data did not capture some physician costs or most long-term care. Using hospital data from 2016 and 2017, the report found approximately 30,000 inpatient stays and 50,000 emergency room visits to treat firearm injuries. Of those, 60 percent used Medicaid or another public coverage to cover costs. The report also identified three core groups that were overrepresented as firearm injury patients:

  • Men represented 90 percent of patients receiving emergency room and inpatient care
  • People aged 15-29 accounted for more than half of both emergency room and inpatient care
  • Black patients accounted for more than half of inpatient stays 

Regionally, firearm injuries were concentrated in the South, where almost half of all the costs and initial inpatient stays were located, despite being home to just 38 percent of the U.S. population. Related: Yesterday, the House Appropriations Committee agreed to double to $50 million the federal budget of the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Diseas Control and Prevention for federal gun violence research.  

How to report on your state’s victims compensation fund. As a part of The Trace’s “Aftershocks” series on Chicago’s gun violence survivors and their communities, Lakeidra Chavis ​​spent most of this year reporting on Illinois’ Victim Compensation Program. She found that less than 40 percent of applicants are compensated, and many victims never apply in the first place. Every state in the country has a program like this worth examining more closely. So Lakeidra put together a guide for reporters about looking into the programs, what records you should be requesting, and the questions you should be posing. If you have any questions or want to share your own research into the topic, you can reach Lakeidra at [email protected].

Senator calls on Justice Department to investigate PPP loans to gun companies. In a letter, Senator Bob Menendez and six Democratic colleagues asked the attorney general to investigate whether any gun industry companies falsified applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, which offered COVID-19 relief funds last year. “Despite the great need for access to PPP funding, we are concerned that certain small businesses were shut out of the program, while firearms companies reaped millions based on false representations,” they wrote. Last summer, The Trace reported that as firearms sales hit record highs, gun manufacturers received tens of millions of dollars in PPP loans.

Buffalo uses $5M in stimulus funds for community violence prevention groups. Following last month’s encouragement from President Joe Biden for cities to use American Rescue Plan money to address gun violence, Buffalo’s community-led groups will get financial support to carry out violence interruption work. The money will go to local groups that employ violence interrupters to defuse potentially violent conflicts. Pastor James Giles, who leads one of the groups receiving funding, said the money will allow him to hire 100 street outreach workers over the next three years. “We cannot win this battle without the embracing of community and involving them in a very deliberate and conscientious way,” he said. 

The gun-themed coffee company at the vanguard of America’s culture wars. Black Rifle Coffee Company, founded in 2014 by veterans as a pro-military, pro-law enforcement, and “anti-hipster” business, saw its sales double last year. Its coffee blends have had names like Silencer Smooth, Thin Blue Line, and AK-47 Espresso, and its apparel has shown up in various right-wing settings; a company T-shirt was the first thing Kyle Rittenhouse was seen in after he was released after the fatal shooting of two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In a New York Times Magazine profile of the company, its leaders reflect on their broad support for the right while rejecting some of their newfound customers. “I hate racist, Proud Boy-ish people. Like, I’ll pay them to leave my customer base,” said one founder. 

Two civil rights leaders shift focus to garner “greater interracial support” for policing legislation. The Reverend Al Sharpton and attorney Ben Crump are seeking justice for Hunter Brittain, a white 17-year-old who was fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy in Little Rock, Arkansas, in late June. The men, known for their advocacy work in Black communities, hope their focus on this case will bring as a side effect more support for the wide-ranging George Floyd Justice in Policing Act currently stalled in Congress. In an interview with The Washington Post, Crump said of Brittain’s shooting, “His blood is now on this legislation, just as Floyd’s and Breonna Taylor’s blood is.”

Data Point

71 — the number of homicides so far this year in Jacksonville, Florida. With 34 fewer homicides than the 105 reported by this time last year, the city is a rare marker of decreased homicide rates nationwide. [Florida Times-Union]