What To Know This Week

After a harrowing Texas synagogue standoff, rabbi credits security training. On Saturday, a gunman entered a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, and took people hostage for nearly 11 hours. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, one of the last three hostages to get to safety, detailed how they made their escape after he threw a chair at the gunman. Federal agents then killed the gunman. Cytron-Walker told The New York Times he had taken at least four different security training courses in recent years, preparation that gave him “the courage and the sensibility to act when we were able.” Stuart Frisch, who conducts security trainings for Jewish institutions via the Secure Community Network, told the Times that the 2018 Tree of Life shooting marked a turning point for the Jewish community. An ongoing threat: “Faith-based communities have and will likely continue to be targets of violence by both domestic violent extremists and those inspired by foreign terrorists,” read a letter yesterday from the FBI’s deputy director and the top intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security.

A community mourns a legendary anti-violence worker a year after his shooting. Dante “Tater” Barksdale, an instrumental force with Baltimore’s Safe Streets organization, was killed on January 17, 2021. The Balitmore Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement tweeted yesterday that it “remains committed to honoring his life and his light by continuing to work to end gun violence.” Last February, J. Brian Charles profiled Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott and charted Barksdale’s influence on both the young mayor and the city’s violence prevention community. “He didn’t want any of us to get comfortable in this work because there is so much work to be done,” Scott said after Barksdale’s murder. 

NYC awards $2.6 million to evaluate violence prevention work. The John Jay College Research and Evaluation Center received the grant to audit the city’s gun violence interruption programming through 2026, focusing on the effectiveness and economic benefits of the city’s community-violence prevention programs. The money comes from a recent $20.5 million federal grant for the city-coordinated Crisis Management System, which includes Cure Violence-aligned groups like SAVE Harlem that we profiled in November. New York City has steadily increased funding for CMS in recent years and Mayor Eric Adams has pledged to continue prioritizing the system as part of a broader public safety strategy. ICYMI: Setting aside funding and resources to evaluate existing community-violence prevention programs was one recommendation from the Council on Criminal Justice’s 10-point plan for how cities can reduce gun violence. See more about that report in our latest Weekly newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.

Is corporate consolidation to blame for the ongoing ammo shortage? On the most recent episode of The Reload’s podcast, Stephen Gutowski discusses the question with anti-monopoly advocate Matt Stoller. Stoller expands on his recent newsletter article arguing that domination of the ammunition market by two companies — Vista Outdoor and the Olin Corporation — has led to large consumer price increases during the pandemic. Meanwhile, Gutowski offers some skepticism. The conversation goes deep on the particularities of the ammunition market, but offers an interesting lens into how the broader trend of corporate consolidation affects the gun industry.

Data Point

4 of 5 — the number of St. Louis neighborhoods with Cure Violence sites that, amid a broader citywide decline, saw significantly lower homicide rates last year, ranging from a 42-percent decline in Hamilton Heights to 80 percent for Walnut Park West. One outlier, Dutchtown, saw a 50-percent rise. [St. Louis Public Radio]