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In his 2009 book Don’t Let It Happen, New York City Mayor Eric Adams recounts a childhood incident in which he narrowly avoided shooting a classmate at school with a gun he thought was a toy. Now, Adams denies that the encounter ever happened, and he’s trying to pull the book, which a spokesperson claims was produced with a ghostwriter, from circulation. [Associated Press/Byline]

Q & A

The U.S. may have experienced the steepest year-over-year drop in homicides in 2023, according to data analyzed by criminologist Jeff Asher. The dramatic decline may well signal that the wave of violence that swept the country during the first years of the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to an end.

But violence is complicated. The decline was not evenly distributed across the country. In some cities, murders increased; in many others, violence is still above pre-pandemic levels. And it’s not clear what factors contributed to the overall drop.

The Trace’s Champe Barton spoke with gun violence researcher Joseph Richardson to get some clarity on the trends. Richardson offered cautious optimism about the success of some cities — and warned lawmakers not to be complacent.

Read more from The Trace →

What to Know Today

Over the past few weeks, a number of political figures — from special counsel Jack Smith to Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Green — have fallen victim to “swatting,” false emergency reports intended to elicit an aggressive response from police, and that have resulted in fatal shootings in some cases. The swatting spike comes amid a “deeply disturbing spike” in threats against government officials, per Attorney General Merrick Garland. [Intelligencer/The Washington Post

President Joe Biden delivered his second campaign speech of the year at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a shooter killed nine people in a racist attack in 2015. Biden warned that extremist and white supremacist ideologies continue to pose an existential threat, saying: “There’s some in this country trying to turn a loss into a lie — a lie which, if allowed to live, will once again bring terrible damage to this country.” [PBS NewsHour/The Guardian]

East Palo Alto, a small city in California’s Bay Area, was called the “murder capital” of the U.S. in 1992. But over the past 30 years, it’s undergone a dramatic turnaround: According to recent police data, the city experienced zero homicides in 2023. What’s behind the transformation? [Los Angeles Times

The Supreme Court again declined to intervene on a ruling from Illinois’ high court that upheld the state’s ban on assault-style weapons and large-capacity magazines, marking at least the third time in the past six weeks that justices effectively opted to leave the law in place. [Chicago Tribune

Wyoming has long held a grim record as the state with the nation’s highest suicide rate. Mental health professionals in the state say their prevention efforts are complicated by the popularity of guns — but they also say that in 2023, they started to see some positive change. [NPR]


They Sat and Studied Scripture, No Matter How Long Nor Hot the Day: A portrait of the Emanuel AME Wednesday Bible study group in the hours that everything and nothing changed. (June 2015)