What To Know Today

Washington, D.C., homicides hit a nearly two-decade high. The District recorded its 200th homicide victim on Monday: A man was dead shot at a gas station on November 22. The city last reached 200 homicides in 2003, though 2020 came close with a total of 198, up 20 percent from 2019’s 166. Local officials have pointed to several possible reasons for the rise, including the proliferation of illegal guns and their increased use in minor disagreements, pandemic-related disruptions to the criminal justice system, and a ruptured social safety net in systematically deprived communities of color. D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee called the grim milestone “very troubling.”

Missouri police ask the Legislature to amend Second Amendment sanctuary law. In a letter to the GOP-dominated General Assembly, The Kansas City Star reports, the Missouri Police Chiefs Association wrote that the “wording and structure” of the three-month-old Second Amendment Preservation Act has “caused confusion and potentially unintended legal implications.” The group asks that the law, which subjects police departments to costly lawsuits if they aid in the enforcement of federal gun regulations, be changed to apply only to laws enacted in the future, instead of existing ones. The law’s sponsors have so far been unwilling to consider changes, though Republican Governor Mike Parson has suggested he’d be open to them. As The Trace reported in August, the legislation’s language is so vague that it could prevent enforcement of federal background check laws and laws that disarm domestic abusers. The law has already hindered shooting investigations: Local law enforcement officers in the state told “60 Minutes” this month that they haven’t been sending bullet casings collected at crime scenes to the ATF’s ballistic database for fear of running afoul of the law.

Black Missouri man exonerated in triple shooting after 43 years in prison. Kevin Strickland was discharged from prison on Tuesday after a judge ruled that “confidence in Strickland’s conviction is so undermined that it cannot stand.” Strickland, 62, always maintained his innocence in the execution-style slayings of John Walker, 20; Larry Ingram, 21; and Sherrie Black, 22, in 1978. The sole survivor of the shooting — who identified Strickland as the shooter during his trial — quickly recanted her testimony, saying she’d been pressured to pick him out of a lineup less than 24 hours after the shooting, while she was still covered in blood. The Jackson County prosecutor said in September that Strickland’s innocence was “clear and convincing,” but Governor Mike Parson refused to pardon him. 

House Republicans say new ATF rule creates “backdoor gun registry.” In a letter to acting ATF Director Marvin Richardson, 51 GOP lawmakers argue that a proposed rule that would require federally licensed gun dealers to retain purchase records forever violates a 1986 federal law that prohibits the creation of a federal gun registry. Currently, dealers can delete the records after 20 years. Related: Conservatives in Congress are also aligning against a proposed law that would disarm troops accused of domestic violence.

Guns are being seized at airports in record numbers. So far this year, TSA officers have seized more than 450 guns at security checkpoints at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta, more than any other airport in the nation. The airport was the scene of a panic on Saturday when a prohibited possessor accidentally discharged a handgun that was in his carry-on bag. The TSA reported last month that its officers had seized nearly 5,000 guns from air travelers across 248 U.S. airports to date — an all-time high.

Data Point

~20 percent — the portion of suicide victims in Arizona from 2015 to 2019 who were veterans, according to study released earlier this month. Guns were used in 79 percent of veteran suicide cases, they found, compared with 52 percent of nonveteran cases. [Arizona State University Center for Violence Prevention and Community Safety]