What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: After a grim year of shootings, Philadelphians want action. Residents are fed up with the feeling that they might not be safe outside their homes — and by what many see as a lack of action from their leaders. We talked to locals about what they want from officials when it comes to public safety. “There’s such a beauty to our culture that people just don’t know about,” John Brown, a 19-year-old from the Logan section of Philadelphia, tells Sabrina Iglesias. “We have our own dances. We have our own sayings and food. We’re a strong community, and we deserve for you to protect us.” Read that story here, which was published in partnership with The Philadelphia Citizen, a nonprofit media outlet.

See more from Up the Block, our Philadelphia-based community engagement project. Because voting is so closely tied to public safety, we’ve updated the resource hub with some new pages related to civic engagement. Share your story or learn how to reach your reps! 

The overlooked crisis of homicides among Black women. In January, we reported on CDC data showing that 45,222 people died of gunshot wounds in 2020 — a 14 percent jump from 2019. As in years past, people of color bore the brunt of American gun violence. In a new analysis, The Guardian looks at how the 33 percent increase in homicides among Black women in 2020 was second only to the 34 percent increase among Black men. Such gender parity was not seen in any other racial group. While the overall homicide rate for Black women is much lower than for Black men, it’s still much higher than women for any other racial group and close to double the rate for white men. “The heightened vulnerability of Black women to violence should be seen and addressed as a crisis alongside the already recognized epidemic of Black male homicide,” one expert told The Guardian.

When calls to the police for help led to fatal shootings instead. In at least 178 cases between 2019 and 2021, police officers shot and killed people they had been called to assist in the first place, according to a Washington Post investigation that identified cases in which no imminent harm to others was reported and where the callers’ main concern was a person’s well being. Calls included reports of people suffering mental health crises, wellness checks, or reported threats of self harm. “If your family member is in pain, you should be able to pick up that phone and dial 911 and get help that is effective and safe,” one policing expert told the Post. Related from The Trace: The growing movement to send public health officials alongside or instead of officers to address mental health crises.

ICYMI: President Biden signs bipartisan gun bill. The wide-ranging Bipartisan Safer Communities Act addresses the so-called boyfriend loophole, clarifies which gun sellers need to seek a Federal Firearms License (which requires them to run background checks), and mandates an enhanced background check process for purchasers between the ages of 18 and 21. Among the steps, the bill will also provide $750 million to states to enact and support red flag laws and other crisis intervention programs, $250 million in funding for community violence intervention efforts, at least $2.35 billion for schools, and more than $1 billion in funding for mental health programs. We put together some of our recent coverage on what’s in the bill.

False-alarms mar LGBTQ Pride events in New York and San Francisco. Separate reports of shootings that turned out false over the weekend caused temporary panic, including a near stampede in New York City on Sunday. The false alarms occurred the same weekend that a gunman killed two people at a gay bar in Oslo on Saturday.

Data Point

5 of 5 — the share of the country’s most densely populated cities that lay within may-issue states that require applicants to demonstrate a justifiable need to obtain a concealed carry handgun permit. The Supreme Court’s Bruen ruling to overturn New York’s may-issue law imperils at least five other may-issue states. [Andrew Morral, RAND researcher]