What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: What do guns mean to extremists? Guns and extremism have long been intertwined in America, but radical groups are not monoliths. Some view gun rights as central to their ideology, while others use firearms as a more precise tool to inspire fear, project authority, and intimidate. To get a sense of the landscape, we turned to Mark Pitcavage, a senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism who has studied the far right for nearly three decades, to help guide us through an explainer on the issues. Jennifer Mascia has that piece here.

California’s Legislature fails to pass new public carry limits post-Bruen. Just as New York unveiled its new concealed carry permitting rules and prohibitions on guns in so-called sensitive places, Golden State lawmakers failed to pass their own wide-ranging measures. The bill would have instituted more than three dozen new gun restrictions, but failed to get the two-thirds support required under state rules relating to legislation that goes into effect immediately. (A simple majority, which was at hand, would have allowed the bill to go into effect in January). A separate measure that would have imposed a 10 percent tax on all retail handgun purchases in the state to fund gun violence prevention programs and research also failed. California’s concealed carry rules — like those in New York and other states with discretionary, may-issue licensing schemes — were invalidated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Bruen. Democratic leaders in the Golden State pledged to bring up the bill again in December.

An Ohio police officer fatally shot an unarmed Black man in his bed. On Wednesday, Columbus police released body camera footage of the incident that happened around 2 a.m. on Tuesday while police were serving an arrest warrant. Officers handcuffed two men in the apartment before announcing they would send in a police dog to the room of 20-year-old Donovan Lewis, and calling him to come outside. A voice on the video can be heard saying, “They are sleeping.” An officer, Ricky Anderson, followed the dog to Lewis’ room, opened the door, and fired almost immediately after the light turned on and Lewis rose from the bed. Lewis died at the hospital shortly after. In Ohio, Black people are about five times more likely to die by the police than white people, according to one estimate.

Can “hot spot” policing improve police-community relations? A new study looking at the policy that focuses law enforcement in areas where violent crime clusters suggests that it could. Researchers polled more than 1,000 community members in areas with elevated crime across two unnamed medium-sized cities in the mid-Atlantic. They found that residents had more positive views on policing when they saw frequent patrols and positive interactions between law enforcement and community members, while views were more likely to be negative when community members saw lots of aggressive police enforcement or investigative activity. 

Americans bought an estimated 1.4 million guns last month, according to our tracker that analyzes FBI data. This seasonally adjusted figure includes about 840,000 handguns and 550,000 long guns (rifles and shotguns). The total figure was down 5 percent from the previous August and nearly identical to the tally in July of this year.

Data Point

About half — the share of the almost 48,000 Americans who died by suicide in 2020 who used a gun. Overall, some 90 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal. [The Trace]

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. See our guide for resources on where to find help if you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or depression.