Good morning, Bulletin readers. The Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot in Kentucky was postponed because of the pandemic. Plus: Anti-violence groups in Chicago hope violence interrupters can help halt the spread of coronavirus in underserved neighborhoods.
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NEW from THE TRACE: Already fighting one public health crisis, gun violence interrupters take on the coronavirus. With much of city life in Chicago at a standstill, nearly 200 outreach workers continue to patrol the streets, helping communities avert gun violence amid a spike in shootings this year. Now — while keeping at the recommended six-foot distance — those workers are also acting as neighborhood ambassadors to inform residents about best practices for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. “To the extent that we are the sort of conduits to vulnerable neighborhoods, it makes sense for us to sort of disseminate that information because it’s an important public service,” said the leader of one prominent gun violence prevention collaborative. Lakeidra Chavis has the story in her Trace debut.
Cancelled: One of America’s biggest gun shoots. The organizers of the biannual Knob Creek Machine Gun Shoot near Louisville, Kentucky, had hoped to forge ahead with their spring gathering on April 3-4, telling Guns.com earlier this week, “It’s just hard to believe that a little flu virus is going to keep it from happening.” But yesterday, the shoot was called off. Boom, click: In 2016, photographer Alex Flynn, a combat veteran, captured the firepower (and rightwing rage) on display at the shoot in this Trace photo essay.
A state background check measure that beat the virus shutdown. And one that may not. Lawmakers in Maryland have given their final approval to a bill that extends the state’s universal background checks to long guns like rifles and shotguns. Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who has supported some past gun reforms, hasn’t announced whether he will sign it. In Minnesota, the coronavirus may disrupt a background check expansion. Late last month, the state House passed a bill to extend checks to private sales, along with a red-flag measure. But because of the coronavirus, yesterday the Minnesota Legislature abruptly adjourned until at least April 14, leaving the fate of many pending proposals uncertain.
Reminder: We want to hear from you. What are your questions about what the coronavirus crisis means for the gun issue, or how our country’s abundance of firearms may affect the ways the pandemic plays out here? Please share them with us.
🚨The Trace is hiring.🚨We’re looking for a talented, creative, dedicated community outreach editor based out of our small Chicago bureau who can help us better meet the information needs of neighborhoods with elevated rates of gun violence. The deadline to apply is March 27. Read the full job description here.
Shootings in Chicago are up 36 percent so far in 2020. One caveat, per the University of Chicago Crime Lab: A particularly cold winter last year that kept people at home may have depressed the 2019 numbers. — The Chicago Sun-Times