Less than a week after the FBI released data showing that hate crimes climbed to record numbers in 2022, the Department of Homeland Security warned that things could quickly get worse. In a new intelligence assessment, DHS noted that violence in Gaza and Israel will keep the U.S. in a “heightened threat environment,” noting that more antisemitic and Islamaphobic hate crimes — which the department said were already on the rise — are likely to take place. 

The DHS warning backs up advocacy groups’ reports of an uptick in violence against American Palestinian, Jewish, and Muslim communities since Hamas’s initial attack on Israel earlier this month — including alleged assaults, gun-pointing at a crowd of demonstrators, bomb threats, and the killing of a 6-year-old boy in Chicago. With fears running high, NBC News reports, some American Jewish people are heading to gun training classes — not necessarily because they want to, but because they feel, as one Orthodox woman said, that “Jewish people are not safe anywhere now.”

As NBC noted, it’s not uncommon for targeted groups to consider self-defense measures, particularly after public attacks. In 2018, a small number of American Muslims bought firearms amid a rise in hate crimes to levels that hadn’t been seen since 9/11. The New York Times reported that some of the purchases then, too, were reluctant: “We’re not gun owners because of Islam,” said one Muslim civil rights advocate. “We are gun owners because of the violence perpetrated in this country against minorities.”

What to Know Today

A few weeks ago, the ATF quietly published its 2022 firearms trace data, an annual report on crime guns that were recovered and traced to the source of their original purchase. The agency recovered and traced about 10 percent more firearms nationwide than in 2021, but the increase is not uniform throughout the country. [Jeff Asher/ATF

Nearly 8 percent of American adults consider it “very or extremely likely” that, in the next few years, they “will be armed with a gun” in a situation in which they believe political violence is justified, according to a nationally representative survey from the University of California, Davis, Violence Prevention Research Program. One-third of respondents said they believe violence to be “usually or always justified” to advance at least one political objective. [WHYY/Injury Epidemiology]  

In 1994, Griffin Dix’s 15-year-old son Kenzo was unintentionally shot and killed in Berkeley, California, after one of Kenzo’s close friends pulled the trigger on a pistol he didn’t think was loaded. Dix’s new book, “Who Killed Kenzo,” chronicles how the shooting spurred his turn toward anti-gun violence activism, and his decades-long legal and policy battles with the firearms industry. [The Oaklandside]

Former police chiefs from North Carolina and North Dakota — along with several Federal Firearms Licensees, one of whom was also an intelligence analyst with the Department of Homeland Security — were indicted by a federal grand jury over a conspiracy to illegally acquire machine guns and other restricted firearms. The charges are similar to those recently leveled against the sheriff of Frederick County, Maryland. [Maryland Matters/Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office

The racist killing of three Black people this summer at a Dollar General in Jacksonville, Florida, prompted a reckoning with the city’s violent, discriminatory past, and the manifestation of that history in the present. As the shooting fades from national memory, residents are battling impatience and anger against hope that the city can still change. [The Washington Post

The National Rifle Association is among the entities lobbying Congress on a bill to ease access to banking services for legal marijuana businesses, which at present are effectively blocked from working with financial institutions because of federal drug laws. While the gun group does not have an official stance on marijuana, former NRA President David Keene has in recent years expressed concerns that the gap between state and federal policies has created problems for gun owners. [Forbes]  

Gun violence is at the center of the race for Indianapolis mayor, following an increase in police killings and public concerns about shootings. Both Democratic incumbent Joe Hogsett and GOP challenger Jefferson Shreve have promised to lobby the state to pass firearm restrictions — a move that angered the latter’s base. [Indianapolis Star]


Their Guns Fueled Chicago Crime. When They Broke the Law, The ATF Went Easy: A report from the Chicago Mayor’s Office named gun stores whose wares consistently wound up in city crimes. ATF records show the agency was lenient. (April 2022)