What To Know Today

The CDC’s final word on the pandemic’s historic gun violence surge that hit poor communities of color hardest. In January, we reported on CDC data that showed gun deaths in America hit an all-time high in 2020, surpassing 45,000 for the first time. Gun deaths (including suicides) increased 15 percent, the highest rate since 1994. That increase was disproportionately felt by Black and other minority Americans, catalyzed by a 35 percent rise in homicides, the CDC confirmed in a new comprehensive report that contextualizes the disparities within the uptick. It found that the largest increase in gun homicides (39 percent) was among Black people, while the biggest increase in gun suicides (42 percent) was among American Indian and Alaska Native people. The increases were concentrated in counties with the highest poverty levels, which saw 4.5 times higher rates of gun homicides and 1.3 times higher suicide rates than counties with the lowest poverty levels. The CDC authors recommended comprehensive and targeted strategies for addressing the root causes that contribute to gun violence. 

A mixed review for Baltimore’s aerial surveillance program. Like many major cities, Baltimore sees more than of half its murders go unsolved. In hopes of clearing more violent crime cases, the city launched a pilot program in 2020 that combined manned flights with additional investigative resources to collect surveillance over large geographical areas. Last June, a federal appeals court ruled that Baltimore’s program was unconstitutional as RAND researchers simultaneously studied its effectiveness. They just released initial results, finding that it was unlikely that the program improved clearance rates for targeted crimes like shootings or homicides, but did likely help reduce armed carjackings when surveillance planes were flying, and reduced the rate of armed robberies. Takeaway: “Our results imply that high resolution, persistent aerial surveillance has the potential to deter crime,” the authors wrote, “but meaningful benefits on clearance rates for cases targeted by the program were not found in the Baltimore trial.”

University of Chicago Crime Lab launches program to train leaders in community-led public safety. Made possible by $27.5 million in private donations, the Community Safety Leadership Academies program aims to improve policing and community-violence intervention by training a new generation of leaders in both fields. “Improving the ability of community safety institutions to use data driven management strategies is a vastly underutilized lever for stemming the tide of gun violence and closing the safety gap in America’s cities,” said Crime Lab director Roseanna Ander. A coalition of some of the nation’s most prominent community-violence intervention groups — including Live Free USA, LIFE Camp, and Cities United — will be involved in the training efforts.

An insurrection defendant awaiting trial is going to jail for possessing a loaded shotgun. Barton Shively, a former Marine, was living at home after being charged with assaulting police at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. On Monday, a judge ordered him detained after probation officers said he reached for a loaded shotgun during an unannounced home inspection. Shively is one of several Capitol defendants whose gun access was restricted as a condition of their pretrial home confinement.

Data Point

34 percent — the increase in emergency room visits for gun injuries while overall ED visits dropped 26 percent, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services. The findings were based on data from 29 states between April and December 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. “Essentially, every patient that I treat should never have needed us,” said Dr. Elinore Kaufman, a trauma surgeon with the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “But it never seemed more extreme than at that time when resources seemed scarce and even more precious than usual.” [CNN]