What To Know Today

Homicides, gun assaults dip slightly in the first six months of the year. Murders fell by 2 percent and gun assaults by 6 percent compared to the first half of 2021, according to a Council on Criminal Justice analysis of 23 cities with publicly available data. On the other hand, there were year-over-year rises in several other categories of crime, including aggravated assault and robberies — by 4 percent and 19 percent, respectively. While the homicide drop is encouraging, the rate is still 39 percent above the first half of 2019 before the surge of violence during the pandemic. Year-end CCJ estimates found that homicides spiked by 30 percent in 2020 (which was almost identical to the FBI’s numbers for that year) and then increased modestly by 5 percent in 2021. “It is heartening to see the homicide numbers fall, even slightly, but American cities continue to lose too many of their residents to bloodshed,” said the study’s co-author, Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri—St. Louis. Even with the homicide spike during the pandemic, the murder rate is still much lower than at the high-water mark of the early 1990s. But with rates still up recently, the authors said that cities must practice “enforcement, prevention, and intervention efforts that focus on the specific people and places where violence is concentrated.”

NEW from THE TRACE: Texans have a complicated relationship with guns. Background checks for gun purchases have regularly risen following most mass shootings, including high-profile incidents like El Paso, Santa Fe, Sutherland Springs, and most recently Uvalde. But those events and their aftermath only provide a snapshot of the full, complicated picture of Texans’ relationship with guns and gun violence. For example, while more guns were purchased in Texas during the pandemic than at almost any time so far this century, the rate of ownership has been declining for years because the state’s population growth is outpacing the increase in gun purchase. Check out our new piece co-published with The Texas Tribune for more data including on sales, ownership rates across demographics, and gun death rates across demographics — plus a slew of handy visuals.

Ex-National Guard member who allegedly planned attacks on police sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison. Francis P. Harker pleaded guilty to weapons offenses and admitted that he had links to The Base, a violent neo-Nazi group, and had discussed a potential attack on police in Virginia Beach. Prosecutors charged him with illegally possessing guns, and a judge in November said that Harker, a Virginia resident, had also traveled to Colorado to meet with the head of an unnamed violent extremist group. “He engaged in numerous other activities on the internet involving violent, racially-motivated extremism, particularly focused against law enforcement officers,” prosecutors said in a sentencing memo. 

Washington city withdraws safe storage law after losing preemption case. In 2018, Edmonds, a city north of Seattle, adopted the requirement to lock up guns when they’re not in use. The NRA and the Second Amendment Foundation sued, saying the resolution violated the state’s preemption law, which largely puts gun regulation in the hands of the state. In April, the state’s high court agreed and this week, the Edmonds City Council formally repealed the law. Related: We’ve reported on preemption laws that greatly restrict the degree to which localities can set their own gun policies.

Data Point

At least $1.7 billion — the revenue that five leading gunmakers — Bushmaster; Daniel Defense; Sig Sauer; Smith & Wesson; and Sturm, Ruger & Co. — raised from AR-15-style weapons in the past decade, according to a new House committee report. [House Committee on Oversight and Reform]