What To Know Today

Gun reform groups join the effort to kill the filibuster. The call is part of a new report, shared exclusively with The Trace ahead of its release later today, from the filibuster reform group Fix Our Senate along with Brady; Guns Down America; Newtown Action Alliance; and States United to Prevent Gun Violence. The effort is part of an increasing acknowledgement from Democrats and their allies that little of the Biden administration’s policy agenda can be achieved so long as the Senate’s current 60-vote threshold to pass legislation stands — it’s a steep effort to get 10 Republican votes on most bills. With even wildly popular universal background checks stalled by those numbers, the coalition is pushing for a simple majority rule, which they hope will enable long-sought goals including a renewed ban on assault weapons and increased federal funding for community-focused solutions. “Elimination of the filibuster will allow Congress to pass life-saving gun violence prevention legislation that reflects the will of the people and protects Americans,” the report reads. — Tom Kutsch, newsletter editor

A more precise accounting of the $156.9 million PPP windfall for gun companies. Last summer, The Trace reported that firearms manufacturers received tens of millions of dollars in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which offered COVID-19 relief funds, even as firearm sales hit record levels. That included Polymer80, which sells kits to easily build unserialized ghost guns and has since been raided by ATF agents. New research from Everytown for Gun Safety found that, all told, $156.9 million in PPP funds went out to 1,871 “firearms-related businesses and organizations.” Nearly half that money — $83 million — went to just 285 firearms manufacturers, importers, and distributors. [Everytown’s nonpolitical arm provides funding to The Trace. Here is a list of The Trace’s major donors and its policy on editorial independence.]  

“Local, short-lived, and politicized”: How mass shootings affect people over time and distance. The high-casualty incidents have the strongest impact on emotions of people living within the town or city where the event occurs, and the collective reaction largely fades within a week. That’s according to a study from Princeton University researchers Patrick Sharkey and Yinzhi Shen looking at well-being survey data before and after 31 mass shootings from 2008 through 2015. The researchers didn’t ask participants about specific incidents, but rather surveyed “daily emotions” over time and compared results from before and after a mass shooting incident. “We found that the emotional impact of mass shootings is substantial, but it is local, short-lived, and politicized,” the study reads. The findings also suggest that the emotional after-effects to mass shootings was more pronounced for self-identified Democrats than for Republicans. The takeaway? “If policy reform efforts are to draw on collective emotional responses to these events, they will likely have to start at the local level in the immediate aftermath of a mass shooting,” the researchers write.

Local officials struggle to balance reopening efforts with tackling elevated gun violence. The ongoing violent crime spike has complicated efforts to draw back tourism and rejuvenate city centers, The New York Times reports. Mayors in some of the biggest U.S. cities are debating between traditional law enforcement-centric methods of curbing violence and more recently popular community-focused solutions — and sometimes trying both at once:

  • In Chicago, the mayor wants to focus resources on 15 high-crime pockets of the city as part of an effort to reduce summer violence. 
  • Miami-Dade County’s top prosecutor has added surveillance and policing efforts against illegal party venues in designated “hot spot” areas. 
  • New York City has also beefed up its surveillance cameras and has been enforcing curfews in public parks. 
  • In Milwaukee, the city’s Office of Violence Prevention, which is part of the city’s Public Health Department, announced a strategy to connect at-risk youth to programs and activities.

With homicides up by about 70 percent in the first three months of 2021, the City Council in Jackson, Mississippi, convened a special meeting over gun violence that echoed the tone in many places across the country. “If we don’t save these children, we’re going to keep having these meetings, keep going to the funerals — and wondering why,” one councilperson said. 

Alton Sterling’s family reaches $4.5 million settlement for his 2016 shooting by police. Sterling, a 37-year-old Black man, was killed by a white police officer outside of a convenience store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he had been selling CDs. Both the Justice Department and the state attorney general declined to bring charges against any of the officers at the scene. The settlement brings the family’s wrongful death suit against the city to a close.

Data Point

0 — the number of officers convicted in 50 killings of Black women by police in the United States from February 2015 to March 2021. The figures are drawn from police and news reports, which don’t necessarily capture every death, so the total number of victims might be even higher. [Insider]