What To Know Today

Multidisciplinary working group offers a 10-point plan for how cities can beat back the pandemic violence spike. In July, the Council on Criminal Justice, a think tank, convened a Violent Crime Working Group of 16 experts from law enforcement, academia, public health, and community violence intervention spheres to find urgent solutions to elevated violence. After producing a series of bulletins on violent crime reduction, the group today released its final report, which lays out a series of short-term actions cities should take to address violence. Among other steps, the group advises cities to publicly set clear reduction goals; create a permanent and well-funded unit within the mayor’s office dedicated to violence prevention; identify the specific people and places that drive the bulk of violence; and invest heavily in workforce development and retention for anti-violence efforts. Local commitment, outside support: In a media call Tuesday, working group members spoke of a key requirement for any violence reduction effort: that mayors, police chiefs, prosecutors, nonprofit leaders, and key city officials be in alignment on what the goals are and how to achieve them. They also emphasized the importance of state and particularly federal assistance in the form of leadership, regulation, funding, and more. “The $5 billion [for community violence intervention] in the Build Back Better Act is huge,” said Paul Carrillo, a working group member and director of the community violence initiative at Giffords. “It’s like the field of community violence intervention is a startup that has never had an investment to scale up.” A broader focus than firearms: “Getting guns out of people’s hands is an input,” Emily Owens, a working group member and professor of criminology at the University of California-Irvine, said. “It’s not the end goal.” She added, “The goal needs to be to save lives.”

The Justice Department tasks a group of prosecutors with pursuing domestic terrorism cases. The new unit will focus on domestic extremism threats, an increasing concern at the federal level in recent years. Announcing the initiative in remarks before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Matthew G. Olsen, head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said the FBI’s investigations into domestic violent extremism have more than doubled since spring 2020. The new group will help “ensure that these cases are handled properly and effectively coordinated across the Department of Justice and across the country,” he said.

Smart gun companies say their products could hit U.S. markets soon. In January 2019, Brian Freskos reported on a new generation of entrepreneurs who were working to revive the idea of a gun that could only be used by a specific user years after the first models proved unreliable, hackable, or a bad fit for customers. One of the companies he wrote about was LodeStar Firearms, one of two companies featured in a new Reuters exclusive about smart gun producers’ hopes to start selling to the public in the near future. Executives at two companies told Reuters they intend to make personalized guns commercially available sometime this year. “We finally feel like we’re at the point where … let’s go public,” the LodeStar CEO said.  

Indiana House swiftly passes permitless carry bill. The measure to eliminate licensing requirements for handgun carriers passed in a 63-29 vote. It now heads to the GOP-controlled Senate, where a similar bill stalled out last year. 

Data Point

93.3 percent — the proportion of shooting victims in Philadelphia last year who were nonwhite. By far the biggest share of victims were Black men (75 percent), followed distantly by Hispanic men (10 percent). [Billy Penn