What to Know Today

UNC Asheville is investigating a “traumatizing” active shooter training. Last week, students at the University of North Carolina, Asheville, participated in an ALICE — “alert, lockdown, inform, counter, and evacuate” — training program, during which they were told to run and hide from a mock shooter and shown footage from the 2018 Parkland shooting and images from the 2019 shooting at the school’s campus in Charlotte. The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Monday that the school’s active shooter trainings are on hold while the administration conducts its investigation. Students told campus newspaper The Blue Banner they did not receive adequate warning about the content of the training and that they were under the impression that it was mandatory. Questions of efficacy: The ALICE Training Institute is the largest for-profit private provider of active shooting training in the United States. As The Trace has reported, there is scant evidence that its approach works, and the company has overstated the effectiveness of its training.

Analysis finds rural communities are facing gun violence rates that match or outpace cities. The total rate of gun deaths in rural areas in 2020 was 40 percent higher than in urban areas, and rural counties took 13 of the top 20 spots on the list of highest per capita gun homicides between 2016 and 2020, according to a compilation of data released yesterday by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. CAP also found that many large cities that receive media attention for firearm violence, like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia, are proportionally safer from gun homicide than rural areas: Cook County, where Chicago is located, ranks 79th in firearm homicide rates; Philadelphia County ranks 38th; and LA County ranks 316th. Varying variables: The CAP report focuses on rates of gun violence, rather than total numbers of shootings. One of the authors of a Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions report, linked in the CAP analysis, explained the importance of this distinction earlier this year, saying: “If you’re only focused on the raw numbers, it can be misleading to compare counties in Illinois to counties in Arkansas. But if you put those numbers in the context of how many people live there and how many people are at risk of being killed by a firearm in those places — the rates tell a very different story.”

Little progress on gun-free zones in New Jersey. Three months after New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called on lawmakers to respond to the Supreme Court’s Bruen decision by creating gun-free zones, the state still hasn’t expanded the number of locations where carrying guns is banned. Murphy signed an executive order in June directing state agencies to assess what locations could be designated as “sensitive areas” where local jurisdictions can still regulate and prohibit guns, per the Supreme Court majority opinion. State legislative officials told the New Jersey Monitor that lawmakers could introduce a new bill creating a process for gun-free zones as soon as mid-October. The Monitor reported in June that State Police were expecting more than 200,000 applications for concealed carry permits in the coming months.

The NRA helped kill gun restrictions in Brazil. As the country’s presidential election approaches, gun owners are now a major voting bloc. In 2003, VICE reports, Brazil’s Congress came close to passing a major disarmament bill that included tightened restrictions on gun ownership and possession. Then an NRA lobbyist stepped in, advising Brazilian pro-gun groups to emphasize freedom more than firearms, and the tide of public opinion turned away from attempts to regulate firearms in the country. Today, Brazil is home to one of the largest gun manufacturers in the world, and counts 1.56 million registered gun owners — a number that tripled under President Jair Bolsonaro, who has expanded gun access since taking office in 2019. The Brazilian presidential election is days away, and Bolsonaro — a Trump-like figure who has suggested that he might not accept the results of the vote — is not favored to win. According to VICE, Bolsonaro supporters have been accumulating guns as the election approaches, fueling fears of civil unrest.

In Texas, gun laws dominate the political conversation. At The Texas Tribune Festival — a politics and policy symposium put on by the eponymous nonprofit news outlet — last weekend, Texas politicians were grilled about gun violence issues in the state. In one discussion, Senator Ted Cruz was heckled and booed when he answered a question about ending mass shootings. Cruz is against a ban on semiautomatic rifles and in favor of placing armed police in schools. Near the end of his event, the senator responded to an audience member who shouted: “Violence doesn’t solve violence.” “It actually is the only thing that does,” Cruz said. “Violence doesn’t solve violence? That is actually why the left wants to abolish police and why you see murder rates skyrocketing.” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke, who is behind incumbent Governor Greg Abbott in the polls, told an audience that he does not believe prohibiting AR-15-style weapons will ever gain traction in the state. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported that O’Rourke is still in favor of raising the minimum age to buy AR-15-style weapons to 21. And state House Speaker Dade Phelan said that Texas wouldn’t pass significant gun reform laws in the next legislative session.

Federal appeals court dismisses NRA lawsuit against New York official. After the Parkland shooting in 2018, Maria Vullo, then superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, called on banks and insurance companies to stop doing business with the National Rifle Association. The NRA sued Vullo shortly afterward, claiming that she violated the group’s free speech rights. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit last week, The Associated Press reported.

Data Point

307 — the number of shootings so far this year in Toronto, which has marked around 400 shootings annually since 2016. More than 200 people marched through the city’s downtown to protest gun violence on Saturday. [Toronto Police]