What to Know Today

Could repairing abandoned houses reduce gun violence? A study of low-income, Black neighborhoods in Philadelphia directly linked decreases in weapons violations, gun assaults, and shootings with making structural improvements to vacant and abandoned spaces — including low-cost interventions like weeding and picking up trash. “Every time we step out of our houses, the places & spaces around us impact our minds, [bodies], and spirits,” lead researcher Eugenia C. South tweeted. “That’s why our environment matters.” Trees, rakes, and cleanup crews: A wealth of research demonstrates that neighborhood disinvestment and violence often go hand in hand, Brian Freskos wrote for The Trace in 2019. In Chicago, city leaders are investing in efforts to beautify these public spaces.

FBI records show that police are shooting and killing fewer people every year. The data is deeply flawed. Federal data indicates that police have shot and killed fewer people each year since 2015. But a Washington Post analysis reveals the FBI recorded only one-third of 7,000 fatal police shootings between 2015 and 2021. During that time, police gun homicides steadily increased annually, reaching a record high last year.

Vallejo “inadvertently” destroyed evidence in five police shooting investigations. The California city disposed of audio and video records that could have provided insight into one of the department’s most violent and scrutinized periods, The Vallejo Sun reports. Vallejo has a high rate of police killings — and a pattern of delaying their investigation. How reform dies: Even when progress is made in enacting police reforms, the very people with the power to effect change can undercut it. In the summer of 2020, officials in Rochester, New York, proved that point — and as Joe Sexton writes for The Trace, it all started with the death of Daniel Prude.

Mayors urge Senate to pass firearm safety legislation. Nearly 70 mayors of cities that have seen a mass shooting this year signed a letter calling on the Senate to pass bills expanding background checks and banning assault weapons before the new congressional session. Per The New York Times, new gun legislation is unlikely anytime soon.

While a Chicago violence prevention program waits for state funding, its members are getting shot and killed. Passports for Peace, a program offering job training and mentorship to people at risk of gun violence, got a $450,000 grant from the state of Illinois. But getting access to the money has been a monthslong bureaucratic nightmare, project lead Will Calloway told Block Club Chicago. In the meantime, he said, two people who promised to participate in the program have been murdered, and four others have been shot.

New Jersey inches closer to passing major gun measure. The state Senate is expected to bring the legislation to the floor on December 22, New Jersey Monitor reports, after the bill cleared its second-to-last vote along party lines this week. The measure, a response to Bruen, would strengthen requirements for getting a concealed carry permit, mandate safe-storage training, and criminalize carrying a gun in a number of “sensitive places.”

Data Point

13 percent — the reduction in gun assaults in parts of Philadelphia where nearby abandoned houses were rehabilitated. Weapons violations dropped by 8 percent, and shootings dropped by 7 percent. [JAMA Internal Medicine]