What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: In a majority of states, you don’t need training to carry a gun in public. In December, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis backed legislation to eliminate the licensing requirement for carrying concealed guns. If it passes, Floridians will no longer need a permit to carry a concealed gun — nor will they need to take a firearms safety course and demonstrate that they can responsibly fire a gun. As of January, the Sunshine State was one of only 19 that require “live-fire” training to carry guns in public, according to a review by The Trace. That’s down from 24 in 2016, when we first conducted this survey. You can read the new story from Jennifer Mascia and Chip Brownlee here.

Did a pause in state funding lead to a spike in youth homicides in Chicago? Public health researchers from Boston and Chicago set out to determine the causes of spikes and declines in youth homicides in the Windy City between 2009 and 2018. During that period, 2,271 people between the ages of 15 and 24 died by homicide; 93 percent of victims were male, 79 percent were non-Hispanic Black, and 95 percent were killed with a gun. In 2016, the homicide rate among the cohort nearly doubled over the previous year (7.5 homicides per 100,000 people vs. 4.3 per 100,000), before returning to pre-2015 levels in 2017. The researchers believe that a two-year Illinois state budget impasse — in which funding was cut for an array of services that included youth after-school and summer jobs programs — could have played a big role. “Quantification of youth development and violence prevention service funding cuts reinforces the plausibility of the negative impact of the budget cut as a leading potential contributor to the spike and subsequent decline in homicides,” the researchers write in the study that was just published in BMJ Open. “This emphasizes the importance on a policy level of consistent state budgets to support human services.”

NYC mayor to expand community-led and police-based violence prevention. In an address, Mayor Eric Adams announced a new gun violence and public safety strategy that will bolster the city’s Crisis Management System, which comprises more than 50 community-based organizations that operate violence prevention programs in 21 neighborhoods. The nation’s largest city-coordinated gun violence prevention apparatus was launched in 2014 and had a total budget of $42 million last year. (Meanwhile, the New York Police Department budget was $5 billion last year.) As a part of Adams’s CMS expansion, every city agency will be assigned a gun violence prevention liaison, and hospital-based violence intervention programs will be brought to 10 additional hospitals. To the consternation of some progressives and community activists, Adams’s public safety plan will also lean heavily on controversial policing tactics, including a new version of an anti-gun plainclothes police unit that was disbanded in 2020 amid criticisms of its treatment of nonwhite residents. These new Neighborhood Safety Teams, which will launch in as soon as three weeks, will be active in the 30 precincts where the bulk of city gun violence occurs. Adams said the officers will wear body cameras and be identifiable as police. 

Celebrating an anti-violence streak in a small corner of Indianapolis. In January 2020, four people were killed at the Carriage House East Apartments on the east side of the Indiana capital city. Pastor Dr. Charles Harrison, board president of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, a violence reduction nonprofit, noted that the housing complex has seen no murders in the subsequent two years. Harrison attributed the lack of violence to his group’s partnership with apartment management, local clergy, and the police.

Home news: Loren Lynch has joined our staff as The Trace’s first director of development. Loren comes to us from the Texas Observer, where she served as interim publisher after four years directing the news outlet’s development programs and assisting with overall publication strategy. “The Trace’s mission to provide the public with more in-depth reporting on gun violence is unique, and I think represents a rare opportunity within the media industry,” Loren said. You can read more about her here.

Data Point

84 — the number of homicides last year in Toronto, a city of 2.7 million, one of the highest years on record. [The Toronto Star]

81 — the number of homicides last year in nearby Rochester, New York, a city with a population of 211,000, an all-time record for the city. [Rochester Democrat and Chronicle]

469 and 836 — the number of homicides last year in Houston and Chicago, cities of 2.3 million and 2.7 million, respectively. [The Houston Chronicle and The Chicago Sun-Times]

[H/T to Mark Obbie]