What To Know Today
Homeland Security points to “increasing but modest” threat of violence from election conspiracists. The agency’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis issued the warning to federal, state, and local officials about “activity online calling for violence in response to unsubstantiated claims of fraud related to the 2020 election and the alleged ‘reinstatement’ of former President Trump,” a CNN source quoted the memo as reading. The bulletin’s existence was first reported by ABC News. “Reporting indicates that the timing of these activities may occur during August 2021, although we lack information on specific plots or planned actions,” the document reportedly reads. Related: Seattle’s Police Department fired officers who were present during the Capitol insurrection, while a federal judge warned last week that hundreds of obstruction charges against Capitol rioters risked being dismissed for being overly vague.
NYC’s shooting surge continues to level off — but violence is still higher than usual. For the second straight quarter of 2021, the rate of increase in the number of shootings declined, according to researchers at the John Jay Research and Evaluation Center. To account for seasonal variations in gun violence (which is usually highest in the spring and summer), they compared the rate of change in the same quarters from year to year. Gun violence remains above already elevated 2020 levels, with the second quarter of this year seeing 486 shooting incidents compared to 361 last year. But that 35 percent increase over 2020 is down from the 51 percent year-over-year increase seen in the first quarter of 2021, meaning that while shootings are still high overall, they may no longer be rising as intensely. “Shooting trends in New York City remain a serious concern, but these quarter-specific, one-year differences declined for three straight quarters,” researchers Jeffrey Butts and Richard Espinobarros write.
New Jersey Supreme Court denies Smith & Wesson a stay over deceptive advertising case. Earlier this year, the state attorney general asked a New Jersey judge to help enforce a subpoena request to obtain a trove of marketing documents following an investigation the state launched last fall. The AG’s goal, according to court documents, was to substantiate preliminary findings that certain advertisements by the gunmaker “may misrepresent the impact owning a firearm has on personal safety and/or safety in the home.” A Superior Court Judge upheld New Jersey’s efforts, and the state’s top court yesterday declined to reverse course after Smith & Wesson appealed, leaving the gunmaker with few options but to comply with the subpoena. Last week, a federal judge threw out Smith & Wesson’s attempt to quash the subpoena outright.
Houston’s surrounding county will launch two alternative safety programs. The new Harris County violence prevention initiatives will send mental health professionals in lieu of officers for some 911 calls and also fund a Gun Violence Interrupter program. The projects, which will each have an estimated $6 million annual budget, will be housed under a new Division of Community Health and Violence Prevention Services. “For too long, we’ve unfairly placed our peace officers in untenable positions that require the unique skills and training of a mental health expert or a social worker,” the Harris County sheriff said in a news release about the programs. By comparison to the new funding, Harris County and Houston’s combined policing and fire budgets are nearly $2.3 billion per year.
Documents show the NRA’s gun safety program for children experienced significant declines. The Daily Beast reports on National Rifle Association board meeting minutes made public in the group’s recent bankruptcy proceeding, which show that the number of kids participating in the “Eddie Eagle” instructional program dropped to 32,000 last year, a 95 percent decline from 2019, which itself was a 35 percent decline from 2018. But an NRA spokesperson contacted by the Daily Beast disputed that the program was in decline, attributing the drop to inaccurate record maintenance, but also saying that the data had not been updated.
24,000 — the number of unserialized weapons, which includes ghost guns, seized by police at crime scenes between 2016 and 2020, according to a leaked federal government report confirmed by NBC Bay Area and The Trace’s Alain Stephens. Separately, a new National Police Foundation report cited two of Alain’s past stories in highlighting the growing proliferation of the unserialized firearms. [The Trace]