What to Know Today

Why a promising violence prevention program failed to launch in New York. On March 15, 2021, moments after Mayor Bill de Blasio and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams announced their plans to launch a new gun violence prevention program, DeVone Boggan’s phone started ringing. Reporters wanted Boggan’s comment on the news that his organization, Advance Peace, would bring its model to New York City. There was only one problem, The Trace’s Chip Brownlee reports: The expansion was also news to him. In the 19 months since the program was announced, the effort has suffered from poor planning, a lack of central coordination, miscommunication, and missed deadlines. As the federal government invests in community-based public safety strategies at an unprecedented level, Advance Peace’s trajectory in New York could be a cautionary tale for cities trying to quickly launch alternative public safety strategies amid rising rates of violence. Read Brownlee’s full story, published in partnership with The City, here.

Jonathan Lowy, former top lawyer at Brady, launches group focused on cross-border gun trafficking. Lowy and Elizabeth Burke, also a former attorney for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, started Global Action on Gun Violence to bring lawsuits against U.S. gunmakers, Bloomberg Law reports. Lowy is already working as foreign legal counsel on the first class-action lawsuit against Smith & Wesson in Canada; GAGV is also suing several Arizona gun stores on behalf of the Mexican government. Lowy, representing GAGV, testified before the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights at a recent hearing about the human rights impacts of gun industry conduct. America’s response to mass shootings is “generally to enact laws that will make it more likely for gun violence to occur,” Lowy told The Trace’s Champe Barton. “The right to live is an internationally recognized human right. The right to guns isn’t.”

More from Barton’s interview with Lowy:

  • “There is potential for action and pressure from human rights proceedings and international rights tribunals — reframing gun industry conduct not simply as a public health issue but also a foreign policy and international security issue. … The U.S. can’t be in a position where we’re risking our standing in the world or international relationships simply for the sake of gun industry profits.”
  • “In the past 30 years, Congress has taken many more steps backward than the baby steps it’s taken forward. I don’t give up all hope that Congress will come to its senses and do what the American people want. But … I’m sort of at a ‘hope for the best, expect the worst’ sort of place.”

For victims’ loved ones, what does the death penalty actually do? When a Florida jury recommended life in prison for the Parkland shooter, rather than the death penalty, much of the media coverage focused on families’ disappointment and anger at the outcome of the verdict, writes Maurice Chammah for The Marshall Project. But focusing on the fate of a perpetrator disempowers the families of victims, and ignores their ongoing struggles — Parkland families are still advocating to stop gun violence, and other victims have trouble obtaining public funds for counseling services. Some families told Chammah that high-profile capital punishment cases “inevitably mean that the perpetrator becomes the protagonist of media coverage, rather than their loved one.” 

Nearly 100 videos about guns and tactical gear used by accused Buffalo shooter remain on YouTube. An investigation by The Buffalo News found that, five years after YouTube started its crackdown on gun content, many of the policy-violating videos that informed the Tops supermarket shooter, as well as others like them, are still online. The paper found two dozen videos that teach viewers to convert semiautomatic weapons to fully automatic, link to blueprints for 3D-printed guns, or sell illegal gun accessories. Not in violation of YouTube’s policies: Videos that provide instructions for shooting other people. Building ghost guns: YouTube and Twitter say they don’t allow users to post blueprints or how-tos for DIY weapons. But, The Trace reported in 2019, the files continue to circulate.

San Antonio students honor Uvalde shooting victims. For the city’s Día de los Muertos festival, an art class at a local high school built an elaborate altar for the victims of the Robb Elementary School massacre. Students created a large, 20-piece display, arranged to look like a classroom, Texas Public Radio reported: a small desk for each of the 19 children killed who died, and a larger one to represent the two teachers. The art class researched each victim to personalize their desk — “their favorite colors, their favorite superhero,” student Kye Blackburn told TPR. “We made sure we got every detail so [the parents] … can feel like their child is with them.”

Data Point

~7.3 million — the number of American adults who use YouTube every day to watch gun content. [The Buffalo News]