Good morning, Bulletin readers. Gun sales have skyrocketed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, driven primarily by fears for personal safety. But do guns really make your home safer? We dig into the research.
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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: Will a gun keep your family safe? Here’s what the evidence says. Although the National Rifle Association and others argue that “good guys with guns” save lives, defensive gun use is the exception rather than the rule, experts tell contributor Melinda Wenner Moyer. Having a gun in the home increases the likelihood of accidental injury, homicide, and suicide. As Wenner Moyer writes: “The research on guns points to one conclusion. The more guns we have, and the closer we keep them to us, the more danger we will be in during this pandemic.” Read on for more.
The NRA has laid off more than 60 employees in recent weeks. That’s according to Politico, which cited unnamed sources. On March 23, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre announced looming layoffs and organization-wide pay cuts because of a pandemic-induced cash crunch. That followed the NRA’s cancellation of its annual meeting in Nashville.
Advocacy groups urge Trump administration to rescind guidance deeming gun industry “critical infrastructure.” An open letter signed by nearly 70 organizations argues that the March 28 update “will contribute to increased COVID-19 deaths and make our communities less safe.” Signatories include the American Federation of Teachers; March For Our Lives and The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The letter adds that the surge in gun sales increases the risk of unintentional child shootings and domestic violence. The nonbinding federal guidance has already prompted several states to reverse their decisions to close gun stores.
Study finds red flag laws associated with fewer gun suicides among older Americans. Researchers found that gun violence restraining order laws were linked with a 2.5 percent decrease in firearm suicides for people over 65 and a 2.4 percent decrease for those aged 55 to 64. The study, published in the journal BMC Public Health, looked at suicide rates between 2012 and 2016 in the five states that had red flag laws at the time. Since the study period, 13 additional states have enacted similar laws of their own.
Chicago’s Cook County Jail records first COVID-19 death. Jeffery Pendleton, 59, died on Sunday of coronavirus complications. At least 220 detainees at the facility, which is the largest single-site jail in the United States, have tested positive for the virus. Pendleton was awaiting trial on several counts, including gun charges; a judge denied his bond request on March 26. A public defender advocating for his release said, “He died waiting for his day in court.”
A Philadelphia trauma surgeon on why community gun violence persists amid a pandemic. Elinore Kaufman, a fellow in surgical critical care and trauma surgery at the University of Pennsylvania, tells Philadelphia Magazine that the continued pace of shootings has been fueled by the recent surge in gun sales, domestic violence between partners in close quarters, suicides, and community gun violence. The latter she attributed to “society-level stressors, depravation, systematic racism, and a lack of opportunity.”
75 percent — the increase in gun sales in Virginia last month compared to the previous year, according to new figures from the Virginia Firearms Transaction Center. — Richmond Times-Dispatch