Protests, unrest, and renewed calls for reform after police shoot man in Philadelphia. On Monday afternoon, Walter Wallace Jr.’s family requested an ambulance to respond to the 27-year-old’s mental health crisis, according to a family lawyer. Police showed up instead, and officers fatally shot Wallace. The shooting led to two nights of heated protests across the city, and condemnations from Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Earlier this month, Philadelphia Police launched a program to embed a behavioral health specialist in the city’s 911 call center to help identify potential mental health episodes in advance so they can send officers with specialized training. But Philadelphia Police Chief Danielle Outlaw said Tuesday that person wasn’t on duty when officers were dispatched. As we’ve reported, there is a growing movement to send counselors alongside or in place of armed officers for some emergency calls.

Americans behind bars on what would have kept them out of prison. In a survey of nearly 2,400 incarcerated people, The Marshall Project asked about a range of criminal justice reform issues. The respondents, representing inmates in 12 states, listed the following as the things that might have kept them on the outside:

  • Access to mental health counseling: 36 percent
  • Access to affordable housing: 36 percent
  • Going to college: 34 percent
  • A livable minimum wage job: 33 percent
  • A better education: 32 percent
  • Finishing high school: 25 percent
  • Access to affordable healthcare: 23 percent

Read more from the respondents here.

Another link between the NRA and a firm tied to shady election practices. Last week, we reported about the National Rifle Association’s relationship with Stampede America and Stampede Consulting, two closely linked consulting firms with ties to allegedly illegal campaign tactics by the Republican National Committee in Nevada and Montana. It turns out that a Stampede Consulting advisory board member, Krystal Geist, is married to NRA board member Mark Geist, according to a review of public records. Mark Geist was elected to the board in April 2019, and about six months later the gun group sent Stampede Consulting $223,551 for unspecified advertising services in three equal payments, according to Federal Election Commission records. Since then, the NRA has paid a Stampede America, about $2.5 million for vote canvassing across more than 16 states. In 2016, Mark Geist starred in a controversial anti-Hillary Clinton ad for the NRA that was filmed inside Arlington Cemetery. He told the radio show Gun Talk last year that one reason he joined the board was because, “I like walking into places that have some hectic chaos to them.” A former Marine, Geist worked as a private security contractor during the September 11, 2012, attack in Benghazi, Libya, an experience that formed the basis of his book “13 Hours.” The NRA and Stampede Consulting representatives, as well as Mark Geist, didn’t return requests for comment. “I don’t have time for this, and honestly, to be honest with you, I really don’t know anything about that,” Krystal Geist said. She didn’t respond to a follow-up request. — Kevin T. Dugan, Trace contributor. 

Michigan judge rules against state ban on openly carrying guns on Election Day. The decision grants a preliminary injunction to the coalition of gun rights groups that sued Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson over the October 16 order. The judge said the decision was unrelated to the Second Amendment and narrowly centered on Benson’s authority to issue such a directive under state law. The state Attorney General’s Office vowed an immediate appeal.

Tighter gun laws may help reduce violence across state lines. Columbia University researchers looking at 15 years of firearm fatalities found that more gun restrictions were associated with lower homicide rates both within states and in neighboring ones. Gun homicides were highest in counties where the state and nearby large cities were subject to weaker laws. “It’s now becoming clear that weak gun laws don’t only drive up gun violence within their own borders, they also affect gun violence in neighboring states,” said Christopher Morrison, the lead author and a Columbia professor, in a press release.

Fearing social disorder, some people across the political spectrum agree on being armed. This year has seen a historic surge in gun sales. In new features, both The New York Times and Politico spoke with some of the first-time buyers now wanting to be their own first responders in case their worst fears about political violence come true. “I just thought if he [Trump] loses this election, something is going to go down, and I just need to be protected,” said one Black Virginia woman about the prospect of far-right post-election violence.


40+ percent — the share of California gun buyers who purchased a firearm for the first time during the pandemic. [Nicole Kravitz-Wirtz et al., University of California Firearm Violence Research Center]