What To Know Today

There’s a firearm suicide crisis among veterans. Better data is needed for solutions. A team of researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine reviewed the 37 applicable papers on veteran firearm suicide over nearly three decades. They found solid evidence that veterans are more likely to own guns, experience higher rates of gun suicide, and that access to firearms is one of the most important modifiable risk factors. Veterans were also often found to have risky usage and storage behaviors but generally supported limiting gun access for at-risk individuals. Where we’re in the dark: Lead author Dr. Jason Theis told me that studies use inconsistent definitions or validations of veteran status and don’t account for a wide variety of military deployments and training. “Veterans are a very heterogeneous group of people just like any other population,” he said. There is also a huge gap in knowledge about the majority of veterans treated outside of the VA system. Better interventions: Having more precise data on veterans and their experiences with firearms will also help guide clinicians, who are sometimes reluctant to counsel on gun safety. “This is a call to action to say that we need higher quality data,” Theis said. “The reason we need better data is to better target interventions and educational programs to encourage safe storage and other barriers to access in high-risk situations.” [If you are having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24 hours a day: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.]

NEW from THE TRACE: Before they were right-wing media stars, NRATV gave them a platform. The streaming channel — which lost money and never gained significant viewership — went offline last year and is at the center of a bitter court battle between the NRA and its ex-ad agency. But it presaged the upstart news networks like NewsMax and One America that have gained popularity with an extreme us-vs-them media strategy borrowed from the gun group. Now, former NRATV personalities like Dan Bongino, Grant Stinchfield, and Dana Loesch are among the most influential conspiracy theorists fueling distrust in the 2020 election. You can read Kevin T. Dugan’s piece, published in partnership with Slate, here.

Violent crime remains at elevated levels while other crimes have dropped. That’s according to the bipartisan National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice that just released updated statistics through October from a sample of 28 cities. Homicides, aggravated assaults, and gun assaults remained up through the fall over 2019 levels. The data is consistent with the commission’s findings from September, and echoes our own reporting from early in the pandemic.

Experts decry dubious far-right call for martial law, new election. In a full-page ad in The Washington Times, the Ohio-based “We The People Convention” invoked record gun sales and the imminent threat of civil war in calling on President Trump to order a military-supervised election do-over. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, whom the president just pardoned, as well as pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood, are among those supporting the effort. “By speaking out on fringe media or retweeting this information, they are likely to influence some Americans and ensure that harmful messages like these get oxygen,” Jim Golby, a former Trump White House official, told Military Times. JJ MacNab, an extremism expert, noted that the call to action would not come to fruition but “could stir up a number of violent acts from the true believers.”

Data Point

~25 percent — the share of more than 600 Texas police officers who were rehired after being dismissed for misconduct last year, according to a state audit. [The Houston Chronicle]