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NEW from THE TRACE: The pandemic is slowing most types of crime. But not gun violence. With businesses shuttered, social gatherings forbidden, and city streets largely empty, sheltering in place has produced one welcome side effect: Most types of crime, from drug offenses to robberies, have dropped considerably. But a new analysis by The Trace reveals that there is a major exception: gun violence. Nationally, shootings are up 6 percent between March and mid-April. And several cities, like Philadelphia and Dallas, are experiencing more dramatic upticks in violence. The Trace’s Daniel Nass has the story.
In Chicago, the mayor said ongoing gun violence is the result of a “perfect storm.” In an interview with The Washington Post, Lori Lightfoot described how shooters were taking advantage of the pandemic: “They know that if they’re caught, their likelihood of being prosecuted, and/or being out on bail quickly, because of the COVID conditions at the jail, are extremely high. So the brazenness of some of the violence that we’ve seen is spectacular.”
GOP lawmakers want assurances that the coronavirus loan relief program isn’t discriminating against the gun industry. The Paycheck Protection Program has come under fire for prioritizing large businesses (it’s intended for small ones) and clients of big banks. Now, a group of 19 Republican senators want to make sure financial institutions aren’t steering payments away from the gun industry. In a letter to the Federal Reserve, Treasury Department, and Small Business Administration that was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, the legislators are asking regulators to outline what steps they’re taking to ensure that lenders with prior social business commitments don’t deny relief to specific industries they might object to, including those related to prisons, fossil fuels, and firearms.
Senators ask for three-digit suicide hotline in next COVID-19 relief bill. The Democratic and Republican lawmakers wrote House and Senate leaders asking that their bill, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, be incorporated into the next relief package. The measure would establish the dialing code 988 for those in crisis, replacing the current 10-digit phone number operated by the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Federal Communication Commission recommended the three-digit code last August. If you or someone you know is in crisis, the current number is available 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255.
The Air Force launches a new effort to curb accidental shootings and suicides. It will distribute 150,000 gun locks to service members for securing personal firearms at home, Air Force Times reported. The move has been in the works for months but took on a new urgency with service members isolated at home with their families. “It’s another way to cut down on the accidental discharges, the negligent discharges,” an Air Force official said. “But it’s also part of a larger comprehensive plan to also help us with some of the suicide prevention efforts.” In 2019, the Air Force saw its highest number of suicides in 11 years. Related: Earlier this month the Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a suicide prevention tool kit that promotes safe storage and urges veterans to promote gun safety in their communities.
Illinois says its face mask directive poses no conflict with state gun law. Governor Jay Pritzker’s directive ordering residents to wear face coverings in public and in stores takes effect May 1. Some gun owners expressed concern that it could put them in violation of a state law that says residents can’t carry guns if they’re “hooded, robed or masked in such manner as to conceal his or her identity.” But the Illinois State Police clarified that licensed concealed carriers who wear masks in public wouldn’t be arrested.
10 — the number of gun cases the Supreme Court will consider at its upcoming May 1 conference. The high court on Monday dismissed its first major gun case in a decade, but experts say another one is very likely — and could be announced as soon as next week if four justices vote in favor of taking a case. — Duke Center for Firearms Law