Good morning, Bulletin readers. An expansive new report looks at how improving community-police relations can reduce gun violence. That story leads your mid-week roundup.
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Distrust of the police fuels gun crime. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence looked at how poor police-community relations exacerbates gun violence across the country. “Everybody has largely missed the fact that if people can’t count on help from the state and its agents, they’re going to take care of themselves,” David Kennedy, the director of the National Network for Safe Communities, told The Guardian. “Sometimes taking care of yourself looks like day-to-day gun violence.” The report also pointed to promising double-digit homicide reductions in places like Camden, New Jersey, and Stockton, California, over the last decade and concluded that retaliatory shootings could be reduced through community policing, and by law enforcement building partnerships with street-level anti-violence groups, faith leaders, community organizations, and service providers. From The Trace archives: On “police legitimacy” and the deadly consequences of its absence or erosion.
The gun industry’s largest trade show kicked off Tuesday. Some 60,000 gun enthusiasts are expected to attend the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week. While federal gun background checks (a proxy for firearm sales) surged to near-record levels last year, business remains rocky for some dealers, who throng the event looking for products that might stoke fresh demand, AP reports. Meanwhile, three people were wounded in a shooting at a shopping center across the street from the convention. Police said a teenager fired into the crowd following a fight Tuesday night at the Fashion Show Mall across from the Sands Expo Convention Center.
A state lawmaker in Virginia is getting death threats from pro-gun activists over a bill that doesn’t involve guns. Delegate Lee Carter, a Marine Corps veteran and Virginia’s only socialist state lawmaker, introduced a bill this session that amends state law to allow public employees to go on strike without getting fired. Because of public safety concerns, he added an exemption for police officers. Per The Guardian’s Lois Beckett, some gun rights activists have interpreted this to mean that cops who don’t confiscate guns can be fired, and that misinterpretation has resulted in death threats. “I am having to take steps to protect myself and protect my family,” Carter said.
YouTube blocked some live news coverage of Monday’s gun rights rally in Richmond. A company spokesman told conservative outlet PJ Media it was “in line with our policies regarding content featuring firearms on YouTube.” The outlet noted that several livestreams of the event were taken down, including one from local outlet WUSA9. The platform’s policy bars “live streams that show someone holding, handling, or transporting a firearm.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed several gun-related measures into law. Legislation enacted Monday will fund a statewide community violence intervention program, provide counseling and social services to violent crime survivors, and mandate that the state Victim of Crime Compensation Office partner with trauma centers to provide referrals. The governor also signed a measure on Tuesday that sets guidelines for toy and imitation guns so they can be easily distinguished from real guns. From The Trace archives: Since 2015, police across the United States have killed more than 150 people who were holding look-alike weapons.
The Baltimore County Council approved licensing requirements for gun dealers. The Secure All Firearms Effectively, or SAFE Act, would require gun sellers to install alarm and video systems, as well as physical barriers to prevent smash-and-grabs; lock up weapons during off-hours, and employ a security guard approved by the police chief. The legislation is similar to new rules that took effect in Illinois last week and is meant to stem the tide of weapons to the black market that contribute to the city’s sky-high murder rate.
New Hampshire to get federal funding to help prevent youth suicides. The National Alliance on Mental Illness New Hampshire is getting more than $730,000 for an awareness and education campaign. The funding does not appear to address gun access. Last year, researchers at Boston University’s School of Public Health found that youth suicide rates are higher in states with a higher share of gun-owning households, like New Hampshire.
A church-held gun buyback in Pittsburgh ran out of cash in an hour. The Church of the Holy Cross’s MLK Day buyback handed out $5,100 for about 150 guns on Monday. “Some people were just bringing the guns in and they didn’t want the money,” the church’s senior warden told CNN. “They just wanted to get the guns out of their homes.”
Sunday’s tragic killing of two police officers in Hawaii was a relatively rare case of gun violence in the state, which had fewer than 120 fatal shootings from 2014 through 2019. — The Trace