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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
NEW from THE TRACE: The very essential work of street-level violence prevention. Violence interrupters were already doing valuable work helping underserved communities break cycles of gun violence, David Muhammad of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform and DeVone Boggan of Advance Peace write in a new commentary. They argue that these specialists have become even more critical as the coronavirus stretches law enforcement and social service agencies. “Like other frontline essential workers, violence prevention specialists are in desperate need of personal protective equipment including masks and gloves,” they write. “They also deserve our acknowledgment, respect and appreciation.” What our reporters have heard on the ground:
- Here’s Lakeidra Chavis’s March 17 dispatch on the Chicago gun violence interrupters doubling as trusted messengers on avoiding infection.
- In Baltimore, J. Brian Charles looked at how one grassroots anti-violence program is adapting its life-saving ceasefire weekends when peace walks have to be virtual.
Guns are marketed for self-defense but more often used in suicide, a new study shows. Researchers at the University of Washington studied nearly 650 gun deaths that occurred in homes in the Seattle area during a seven-year span. Their takeaway: for every justifiable homicide, there were 44 suicides, seven criminal homicides, and one unintentional death. The findings appear in JAMA Internal Medicine. Bookmark it: “Will a Gun Keep Your Family Safe? Here’s What the Evidence Says”
Justice Department warns of the dangers that guns can pose when sheltering in place. In a blog post, the acting director of the Office on Violence Against Women expressed concern that surging gun sales are adding to the threat of domestic violence created by the pandemic’s social isolation and economic stress. She encouraged the secure storage of guns, particularly away from children, and cited National Rifle Association’s advice that calls for firearms to be stored unloaded. She also cautioned that “a gun should never be handled after consuming alcohol.”
States are also sounding the alarm about increased domestic violence risks — and pointing to solutions. “Unfortunately, home isn’t always a safe place — that’s why it’s crucial that we all have the tools necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones,” said California Attorney General Xavier Becerra in highlighting two measures for combating intimate partner violence: domestic violence restraining orders and gun violence restraining orders. San Diego County, which has been a national leader in using GVROs, said it’s served 46 of them in the last six weeks — far higher than average.
AGs to Trump administration: Crack down on digital “ghost gun” blueprints. More than two dozen state attorneys general are arguing that by sharing schematics for undetectable firearms, Texas-based Defense Distributed is violating export control regulations and the Undetectable Firearms Act, which bans guns that don’t set off metal detectors. The same coalition of attorneys general sued the Trump administration in 2018 after it allowed Defense Distributed to post the blueprints, and federal judges have blocked their release on several occasions. In March, the company posted them anyway, with founder Cody Wilson claiming the file dump complied with the White House’s new, relaxed rules for gun exports.
An overlooked angle on suicide. Yesterday, we covered a new tool kit from the Veteran’s Administration, which is helping to spread the message of firearm storage for a veterans population facing elevated suicide risks. But suicide rates among female vets are increasing even faster than for their male counterparts, and a study last month by researchers at the Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center took a deeper look at female veterans’ often ignored perspective on firearms.
Men made up 93% of those who legally purchased firearms only to later become prohibited from owning them, according to a recent survey. — Injury Prevention