What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: What you need to know about Congressional gun reform negotiations. Yesterday, we wrote about some of the key points of the framework agreement a bipartisan group of senators struck on Sunday. Chip Brownlee, The Trace’s federal correspondent, is going deeper, writing dispatches on the talks, adding context, and fact-checking legislators’ claims on the policies up for discussion. One thing to note on investments in mental health services: The deal would fund an expansion of community behavioral health centers, suicide prevention and mental health programs, and school-based mental health services. Notably, community violence-intervention programs would also be eligible for funding, a congressional aide with close knowledge of the negotiations told Chip. You can read the full piece here, which has a much more extensive breakdown of the current negotiating parameters, and will be updated throughout the week. 

Neighborhoods with elevated rates of gun violence have far higher functional disability rates. That’s one of the key findings of a new study led by Rutgers sociologist Daniel Semenza that compared rates of shootings and functional disability at the census tract level from 2014 through 2018. Focusing on New York City, Newark, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, the study found that functional disabilities were much more prevalent in neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence than in those with low rates. The researchers also found that nonfatal shootings corresponded to higher rates of community disability for young men, but not for older men. Key takeaway: “Our findings highlight a critical need to reduce gun violence to potentially decrease the prevalence of functional disability among young men living in disadvantaged communities,” the authors write. They argue that solving the problem requires strategies like street outreach or hospital-based violence intervention, but acknowledge community-focused interventions need more rigorous evaluation and funding.

Ohio governor signs bill making it much easier for school staff to carry guns. The bill allows school districts that want to participate to allow non-law enforcement armed personnel in schools. The bill lowers the training threshold for an armed school staff member to no more than 24 hours, down from over 700 hours of training for teachers currently. 

Homicides also rose in rural America during the pandemic. CDC data shows that homicides rose nationally 25 percent in rural areas, nearly as much as in urban ones. The Wall Street Journal looks at how small-town prosecutors and sheriffs are struggling to keep up, and how the surge has hit rural communities hard. While the reasons are complex, many experts highlight the common thread of a pandemic that disrupted and disconnected communities, much like it did in urban America. “There are parts of our county that don’t even have internet service,” said Tammy Erwin, a victims’ advocate at a rural sheriff’s office in South Carolina. “So it’s not like everyone could just jump on Zoom.”

Meanwhile, some perspective on New York City’s surge during the pandemic. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Justin Fox crunches the numbers on violent crime in America’s largest city. Homicides in New York City shot up during the pandemic — by a staggering 47 percent in 2020 and about 4 percent last year. But the city’s homicide rate is still the lowest among the biggest American cities — Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Phoenix — and notably lower than in the average medium- and small-sized metro and rural areas.

Data Point

28 — the number of states that allow non-security personnel to carry guns on school grounds, while nine states explicitly refer to arming school employees. [National Conference of State Legislatures]