Top Story

A year and a half after it was completed, the Defense Department released its report on extremism in the military late last month. The study found that while violent extremism among the ranks is rare, it is potentially growing among veterans, and the participation of even a few people “could present a risk to the military and to the country.”

Researchers noted that the department’s security clearance screening process is inadequate and that the military’s data collection practices are inconsistent. In recent years, members of the military and veterans have been linked to successful violent actions, including those carried out with guns. [Task & Purpose/USA TODAY]

Ask The Trace

In the waning months of 2023, a series of unsettling high-profile shootings took place in New England: A massacre in Lewiston, Maine, in October was quickly followed by the shooting of three Palestinian students in Vermont and another at a psychiatric facility in New Hampshire. The events were a stark reminder that no community is immune to gun violence — and they also brought a new sense of urgency to discussions about the region’s firearm laws.

Gun rights proponents frequently point to states like New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont to argue that strong gun regulations don’t translate to low rates of violence. But are they the exception, or the rule? In the latest Ask The Trace, reporter Chip Brownlee explains what the data actually reveals.

Read more from The Trace →

What to Know Today

In November, the Supreme Court agreed to hear NRA v. Vullo, the gun group’s case against New York’s former top financial regulator, whom the NRA alleges violated its free speech rights. On its face, the case is about First Amendment rights, but it may have greater implications for the way regulators alert financial institutions about potential risks. [Slate

Chicago, like most of the country, experienced a decline in gun violence in 2023. But robberies in the city surged, with 40 percent more victims than the year prior — and according to the University of Chicago Crime Lab, the number of robbers carrying guns surged, too. [Chicago Sun-Times

An imam, Hassan Sharif, was shot and killed outside his mosque in Newark, New Jersey, just after pre-dawn prayers on Wednesday. While police say the shooting does not appear to be motivated by bias, it comes amid a surge in antisemitic and Islamophobic episodes across the U.S. since the start of Israel-Hamas war. [NBC/The New York Times]

Over the past decade, police have killed scores of Americans who were in possession of replica guns. State and federal laws regulate the appearance and ease of access to imitation firearms, but they vary widely based on the type of fake gun — and they didn’t prevent the fatal shooting of 46-year-old Todd Novick in Rochester, New York, on Christmas Eve. [Democrat & Chronicle

Pennsylvania lawmakers approved funding for a study of how the 911 system can better assist people experiencing a mental health crisis, a measure championed by the family of Christian Hall, who was shot and killed by police in 2020. Researchers will examine how and when dispatchers can route behavioral health calls to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. [Spotlight PA

Guns procured in the U.S. are fueling the gang violence crisis in Haiti, according to a United Nations report. In turn, the terror in Haiti has led thousands of refugees to flee to the American border — and there’s no end in sight. [Rolling Stone]

Data Point

More than 250 — the number of times, since 2015, that police shot and killed a civilian who had a fake gun. [The Washington Post via the Democrat & Chronicle]