What To Know Today

Most gun owners favor widely popular reform policies — but some doubt that their peers will embrace those proposals. That’s one of the top-line findings of a survey of 1,032 self-reported gun owners conducted by Beacon Research and commissioned by 97Percent, a gun safety organization whose mission includes involving more gun owners in the reform movement. Among the other findings:

  • The status quo is failing: Seventy percent of respondents thought gun violence is an extremely or very serious problem in the country (compared to 48 percent of Americans overall who told Pew in September that it was). Just one-third of gun owners said they were confident current laws could address the issue by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.
  • Overwhelming popularity of several gun reforms: More than two-thirds of those surveyed expressed support for several mainstream reform proposals: universal background checks (86 percent); requiring safe gun storage by law (76 percent), and red flag laws that allow temporary removal of guns from at-risk individuals (67 percent). Respondents across all demographics worried about the potential for abuse of some restrictions, but majority support held strong even among self-identified Republicans, conservatives, and NRA members. 
  • Self-defense is the most common reason cited for becoming a gun owner: Fifty-eight percent said they were concerned for their own protection when they first bought a firearm; that number jumped much higher for African-Americans (86 percent), women (68 percent), and recent first-time buyers (76 percent).

Good news for proponents of body-worn cameras: They may help document problematic stops. A new study from researchers who serve on a committee monitoring federally mandated NYPD reforms evaluated the outcomes of one of those stipulations, which required the department to pilot a body-worn camera program. Compared to a control group of officers, those with body cameras saw 21 percent fewer citizen complaints. Meanwhile, they filed 39 percent more reports of their stops than their counterparts. “These results suggest that body-worn cameras improved NYPD officer compliance with mandates to document all stops and could be used to address unlawful policing through better detection of problematic police–citizen encounters,” the authors wrote. A mixed track record: In April, the bipartisan Council on Criminal Justice Task Force on Policing said the effectiveness of body-worn cameras — which one major meta-study found lacking — was undermined by a lack of local mandates for their use and called on agencies to penalize police officers who don’t turn them on. 

Representative Jackie Speier is retiring. The seven-term member of Congress from the Bay Area first ran for office after being shot and seriously wounded in the Jonestown massacre, which she mentioned on her retirement announcement video. Among the hundreds killed during the incident was her then-boss, Representative Leo Ryan. In 2015, we interviewed Speier about the episode that sparked her career-long battle for gun reform.

Biden signs an executive order addressing the “crisis of violence” against Native Americans. The order gives a 240-day deadline for the Departments of Justice, Interior, and Homeland Security to deliver a new strategy that supports tribal nations and enlists police in responding to and preventing violent crimes. There are about 1,500 indigenous Americans missing across the country, according to the National Crime Information Center. And the DOJ reports that indigenous women are murdered at more than 10 times the national average on certain reservations.

Data Point

2.7 million to 14.5 million — the rise in concealed carry permits issued to Americans from 1999 to 2016. [The New York Times]