What To Know Today

“An epidemic in America:” Biden urges action on gun violence. In his first address to a joint session of Congress, the president urged lawmakers to advance a slew of proposals meant to curb the ongoing spike in violence. He called on the Senate to pass two House-passed background check bills, and for Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. (None of those measures are likely to pass absent a change to the Senate’s filibuster rules.) Biden also emphasized his administration’s bill that pledges to provide $5 billion for community violence prevention programs in the communities of color that disproportionately experience gun violence.

Americans’ support for gun restrictions remains high, but has declined since Parkland. That’s according to a Washington Post/ABC poll that found that 50 percent of respondents prioritize laws to reduce gun violence, down seven points from 2018 after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Meanwhile, 43 percent said protecting the right to own guns was more important, up from 34 percent in 2018. The opinion shifts since 2018 largely came from independent and Republican voters. The survey comes less than a month after a Pew poll found similar declines in support for gun restrictions since 2018.

About 32,000 gun hospitalizations per year: New database fills critical gap in our understanding of nonfatal gun injuries. While reliable data exists on the annual number of firearm deaths — about 44,000 last year — no reliable public source exists for gun injuries. As we’ve reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s own estimates have been so unreliable that they’ve pulled the data. Now, the RAND Corporation has created a new resource for state-level hospitalization data for gunshot injuries, documenting a total of 547,821 inpatient hospital stays for gun injury from 2000 through 2016. The database finds large variations in annual gun injuries among states, with Louisiana seeing the biggest per capita rates followed by Tennessee, Missouri, Alabama, and Maryland. The new estimate doesn’t include injuries that didn’t result in hospitalization, however.

Judge declines to immediately release bodycam footage of the shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. The North Carolina state court judge cited an ongoing investigation into last week’s fatal police shooting of the 42-year-old Black man in Elizabeth City as a reason to keep footage out of public view. The judge said some of Brown’s family would be allowed to see bodycam and dashcam footage from officers involved in the shooting within 10 days. Since Brown’s death, local residents have been protesting daily and demanding more accountability and transparency from police.

New York City expands pilot program to send mental health teams in place of armed officers. Earlier this spring, teams of a mental health professional and two Fire Department EMTs started responding to nonviolent 911 calls in three precincts that together accounted for the highest total of more than 7,400 mental health-related 911 calls in the city last year. “We’re now convinced that this approach is going to work citywide,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week. Police will still respond to mental health calls where a weapon or other imminent danger is reported. Cities including Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco have launched similar alternative approaches

The white nationalist face of the 2017 “Unite The Right” rally was recently kicked out of the military. Peter Cytanovic, 24, whose picture holding a torch at the far-right rally in Charlottesville went viral, was dismissed from the Nevada National Guard in December after a Defense Department background check turned up his extremists ties, HuffPost reports. Separately: The Department of Homeland Security this week launched an internal review to address the threat of domestic violent extremism within the federal agency’s own ranks.

Three men indicted on federal hate crime charges for the death of Ahmaud Arbery. A federal grand jury in Georgia indicted Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael, and William Bryan Jr. with one hate crime charge and an additional charge of attempted kidnapping. The men are also facing state murder charges related the February 2020 shooting death of 25-year-old Arbery while he was out jogging.

Data Points

2 per 100,000 residents — Hawaii’s estimated rate of gun injury hospitalizations in 2016, the lowest in the nation. 

10 per 100,000 residents — the U.S. estimated rate of gun injury hospitalizations in 2016.

24 per 100,000 residents — Louisiana’s estimated rate of gun injury hospitalizations in 2016, the highest in the nation. [RAND]