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Another look at spiking homicide rates finds murders are up in major cities. In April, The Trace reported that gun deaths had increased by 6 percent nationally despite coronavirus lockdowns. A new analysis published by The Upshot updates the picture. Through May, murders are up nearly 22 percent across the 36 large cities the authors studied. Unlike past surges, it’s not just a few places driving up murders: 29 of the cities analyzed had increases. Murders are trending higher even as other violent crimes have declined, an anomaly that’s occurred just four times since 1960. What’s driving the rise? No one really knows yet, and short-term swings can turn out to be blips. “This is such a weird year in so many dimensions, and it’s going to take us a while to figure out what caused any of these differences…” one crime expert told the authors. Different data, similar takeaway: During the first several weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in Philadelphia, hospital admissions for gunshot wounds increased, a group of trauma surgeons report in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.
A licensed concealed carrier pulled a gun on a Black man during a social distancing dispute in Philadelphia. The incident occurred at the outdoor seating area of a restaurant where some diners were un-masked, prompting comments from a Black bicyclist passing by. White bar owner Jamie Atlig responded by pulling out his gun; his attorney said he was “being threatened” and that brandishing the firearm “defused the situation.” A witness told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “The Black man doesn’t need to be killed for this to be a story. A man had a gun pulled on him for speaking the truth.” When is brandishing punished as a crime? Thanks to expansive self-defense laws, not very often, as we explained last week. Other disputes over coronavirus restrictions have led to gunfire. In May, we identified nine such shootings.
The governor of Georgia is deploying the National Guard to Atlanta. Republican Brian Kemp said he would send 1,000 troops to guard state buildings in the capital city, where four people, including an 8-year-old girl, were fatally shot over the weekend. The guard members will be stationed at the Governor’s Mansion; the state Capitol; and the Department of Public Safety building — none of which have seen gunfire. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who requested the National Guard to quell unrest in the wake of the George Floyd killing, strongly opposed the move.
Subway restaurants asked patrons not to openly carry guns. The policy change came a week after Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy asked the company’s CEO to prohibit the visible display of firearms in its U.S. locations. In a letter, the senators cited a May incident during which armed anti-lockdown protesters entered a North Carolina location with pistols, shotguns, and an inert rocket launcher. After last summer’s mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, USA Today rounded up the prominent retail and hospitality chains that don’t allow open carry inside their properties.
A bill in New York would require police officers to get liability insurance. State Senator Alessandra Biaggi filed legislation that would require cops to obtain policies that would cover civil settlements arising from excessive force or misconduct, rather than have taxpayer dollars fund the payouts. “The purpose of this bill is to establish a financial disincentive for police misconduct and create accountability for abhorrent behavior,” Biaggi said. Last month, the state adopted a raft of police reforms, including the repeal of a law that shields officers’ misconduct records.
Breonna Taylor’s family said she received no first aid after shooting. The Louisville, Kentucky, EMT lay dying for up to six minutes after police officers shot her during a no-knock raid in March, a new lawsuit contends. The city’s coroner said the severity of her gunshot injuries made her death unpreventable: “Even if it had happened outside of an ER we couldn’t have saved her,” she told The New York Times. The complaint also claims that the raid was part of a large-scale gentrification effort. The city’s economic development department counters that the plan is to transform the properties into permanent affordable housing, and says that residents want solutions to area crime.
97 percent of New York City’s shooting victims in June were people of color, according to an NYPD official. — Tim Winter/Twitter