What To Know Today
Biden jobs plan includes $5 billion pledge for community violence prevention. It is part of the $2 trillion dollar package the administration unveiled this morning. The funding — targeted over an eight-year period — heeds a call made earlier this month by Fund Peace, a coalition of dozens of Black- and Brown-led gun violence prevention groups. The White House pledge is “a historic investment in proactive community based solutions to prevent violence before it happens through evidence based strategies,” read a statement from the Community Justice Action Fund, a Fund Peace member. “This historic step came after years of work, commitment, and advocacy to center the people closest to the pain.”
Tennessee’s permitless carry bill will likely become law. The state General Assembly approved the National Rifle Association-backed bill that allows any person 21 and over (and members of the military starting at 18) to carry handguns — either concealed or openly — without first having to get a permit. The bill heads to the desk of the Republican governor, who supported the measure. Eighteen other states have a version of permitless carry on the books.
A man in Philadelphia was fatally shot while filming a video about the city’s gun violence problem. The victim was identified as 55-year-old Anthony Merriett, and local reporting says he was working for a production company conducting interviews for a Netflix-streamed anti-violence video. “They were inside of a private residence. They were interviewing and filming some family members whose children were victims of gun violence in the last two to three years,” said the chief inspector of the Philadelphia Police. There have already been 119 homicides in the city this year, a 25 percent year-over-year rise from 2020. Last year, the city had more homicides — 499 — than at any point since 1990.
NEW from THE TRACE: Despite its gun-loving reputation, Texas could soon be at the vanguard of violence prevention. In House Bill 1580, the Legislature is considering the establishment of a statewide office focused on community violence intervention and prevention. The proposal is novel because the office would be housed in the state’s public health department, not a law enforcement agency like in many other states. While the placement of an office might sound like a bureaucratic quibble, supporters say this approach would incentivize more holistic strategies, developed with the communities most affected, that don’t use incarceration as a catch-all solution. Advocates say this bill has better prospects than gun control bills in the state because it doesn’t constrain gun rights. Chip Brownlee has that story.
NEW from THE TRACE: Facing GOP pressure, the ATF canceled review of a device implicated in two mass shootings. The Bureau of alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives issued a notice on December 18 seeking public comment on criteria for evaluating whether firearms outfitted with so-called stabilizing braces would be subject to tougher federal rules. The popular accessories are intended to increase the accuracy of AR-15-style pistols and allow users to fire them much like their rifle counterparts. Many gun industry insiders saw the notice as a sign that ATF intended to impose screening and registration requirements on brace-equipped pistols, potentially forcing prospective buyers to wait several months before taking one home. But the ATF rescinded the notice days later after 90 Republican House lawmakers sent the bureau a letter describing the proposed criteria as “ambiguous and malleable.” The devices have been implicated in at least two high-profile mass shootings — in Boulder, Colorado, this month and the August 2019 incident at a bar in Dayton, Ohio. Alain Stephens and Brian Freskos have that story here.
Event: Rethinking how journalism covers guns and mass shootings. On April 6 from 1-3 p.m. EST, the Columbia Journalism Review will hold a virtual summit to reconsider how the American media covers guns and gun deaths. The Trace will join the event alongside journalists from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and more. You can sign up here.