From Our Team
Top doctors ask Biden for Surgeon General Report on gun violence. In an unprecedented letter sent to the White House on December 14, exactly 10 years after the Sandy Hook school shooting, four former surgeons general implored President Joe Biden to direct their successor to prepare a report exploring the causes of and potential solutions to gun violence in America. They say the move is long overdue, and that it would generate a renewed push to treat gun violence as a public health issue. The Trace’s Chip Brownlee has the story.
What to Know Today
Bruen is changing everything. The Supreme Court’s Second Amendment decision requires all gun regulations to pass a strict originalist test: Lawmakers are charged with finding a “historical analogue” for proposed firearm laws, and if there’s no proof of precedent, it could be held unconstitutional. Post-Bruen challenges to state gun restrictions are already winding their way through the courts, and the cases “give us a glimpse of the future,” Ryan Busse writes in The Atlantic — one without serial number records for guns, laws against domestic abusers having firearms, and regulations of assault weapons.
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An FBI report says hate crimes fell in 2021. It’s missing a lot of information. According to the data, released this week, there were 7,262 hate crime incidents in the U.S. last year, down from 8,263 in 2020. But as the FBI itself acknowledged, the report doesn’t provide a full picture: Less than two-thirds of law enforcement agencies nationwide submitted data on hate crimes in their jurisdictions in 2021, compared with 81 percent the year before.
Americans are anxious about gun violence, whether or not they’ve experienced it. Concern about mass shootings is growing in the U.S., psychiatrist and firearm violence researcher Amy Barnhorst told Teen Vogue, putting people at greater risk for other mental health issues like depression and substance abuse. And the trauma of being exposed to gun violence can be detrimental to developing brains — kids who are worried about staying alive are likely to have problems focusing on school. “This violence is death in a way,” said RuQuan Brown, a gun violence survivor who now works in prevention. “You grow up with fears you shouldn’t have.”
How do we change the narrative about violent crime? “Tough-on-crime” rhetoric is like a “black hole,” writes Phillip Atiba Goff, a professor of psychology and African American studies at Yale, in The New York Times. The narrative, a stalwart in political campaigns, positions harsh punishment as the only solution to violence, and leads to policies that have little to no effect on crime. Candidates on both sides of the aisle should instead run on promises to address the root causes of violence — and the 2022 midterms, Goff argues, proved that solutions are a winning argument.
50 percent — the proportion of Americans who said they favored “major changes” to policing in the U.S. Two-thirds said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed with requiring police to have good relationships with the community. [Gallup via Voice of America]