WHAT TO KNOW TODAY
Another lens on the racial disparities of gun violence. Yesterday, we published a feature story on the previously unreported surge in mass shootings this year, nearly half of which have struck majority-Black neighborhoods. A recent academic study sought another way to understand the racial inequities of firearm homicides, by calculating the threat posed to individual people — a metric that health research has indicated can help motivate necessary policy changes. The paper, published in The American Journal of Medicine, calculated the lifetime risk of dying of a gunshot (it also looked at drug overdoses, and car accidents). The numbers are stark: Overall, Americans have a 1 percent lifetime risk of dying by gunfire, but the number more than doubles for Black men, Dr. Ashwini Sehgal of Case Western Reserve University and his co-authors found. If current death rates hold, that means that one in 38 Black men will be killed by gun violence. Here’s what three experts had to say when we flagged the new research:
- “This should wake us up to the fact that the disproportionate firearm-related victimization of Black males is a systemic problem in our society that stems, in part, from a long history of structural racism,” Michael Siegel of the Boston University School of Public Health told us.
- Bindu Kalesan, who’s also at BU and has studied the inequalities of gun violence in her own work, says the new study echoed her own findings. She noted that the disparities are even worse for the nonfatal gun injuries — which affect Black Americans at six times the rate of white Americans.
- Marissa Boeck, a trauma surgeon and professor at University of California, San Francisco, was struck that the racial disparities in lifetime risks of gun deaths were present even though the study didn’t isolate firearm suicides (the largest category of gun fatalities, and most common among white men). “Many of us who work in this field, and also take care of these patients on a near daily basis, believe and are working on showing via data that these disparities are linked to historical discriminatory policies.”
The case for tackling gun violence as part of investing in Black communities. “Economic development and community revitalization cannot be successful if communities don’t deal with the untreated emotional and physical trauma — and actual costs — resulting from gun violence,” writes Brian Malte, executive director of a California-based anti-violence collaborative, in a blog post. Investments in reducing shootings can free up public dollars for other efforts to address inequality, he notes. “For a small investment in transforming lives at the front end, a city will save millions of dollars as a result of gun homicides and injuries that are prevented.”
The serious mental health effects of school shooter drills. The high-intensity exercises that simulate real gun rampages were correlated with large increases in stress and anxiety (42 percent) and depression (39 percent) among students, teachers, and parents, according to a report from Everytown for Gun Safety. The study used research from Georgia Tech’s Social Dynamics and Wellbeing Lab, which analyzed millions of tweets and social media posts from accounts connected to schools that had drills during the 2018-2019 school year. Researchers coded for words that indicated mental well-being and compared it to a control group of accounts in places unconnected to drills. [Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.] Kids on shooting drills, in their own words: In a partnership with Slate last year, we spoke to more than 20 students from different parts of the country, to hear how their childhoods are being shaped by the exercises.
Officers kill man linked to fatal shooting at a Portland, Oregon, protest. A federally led task force shot Michael Forest Reinoehl as they moved to arrest him in a Washington town southwest of Seattle, The New York Times reports. The self-described antifa supporter was reportedly under investigation for the death of Aaron Danielson, a member of the far-right Patriot Prayer group who joined a pro-Trump caravan protest in Oregon on August 29. In an interview with Vice News that aired Thursday night, Reinoehl appeared to admit to the shooting and claimed he had acted in self-defense.
The gravest threat to police officers in 2020: COVID-19. Looking at data from Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, The Washington Post found that the coronavirus had caused 100 line-of-duty deaths this year. Next came gunfire (35), motor vehicle accidents (33), and all other incidents combined (13). By one of the group’s estimates, pandemic-related deaths will end up causing more officer fatalities than the 9/11 attacks.
Republican congressman threatened to shoot armed demonstrators in Facebook post. “If this shows up, we’ll consider the armed presence a real threat,” wrote Representative Clay Higgins, of Louisiana, alongside an image of the Black NFAC militia. Higgins added that he would “drop any 10 of you where you stand.” Despite an online rumor, members of the group did not appear at a protest in the state. Facebook later removed the post.
As the city faces a 40 percent rise in shootings this year, Philadelphia police officers have recovered 33 percent more crime guns compared to 2015, while also making fewer stops. [Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw]