What To Know Today

Calling health care systems to play a key role in gun violence reduction. In 2019, New York’s largest health care provider, Northwell Health, launched a Center for Gun Violence Prevention that advocates for a public health strategy to combat gun violence and researches hospital-based violence intervention. That work includes a pilot program launched in 2020 to ask ER patients about gun access and identify those at a heightened risk of firearm injury in order to connect them with intervention specialists. In an op-ed for Scientific American, Northwell CEO Michael Dowling and Dr. Chethan Sathya, the center’s director, share insights from that study as they make the case for why more health care systems must get involved in hospital-based intervention. “Providers in our health system talk to patients who come into three of our hospitals about how to avoid gun injuries — the same way we talk to them about sugar intake, exercise, or motor vehicle safety,” they write. “We now talk to patients who have access to firearms about safe storage, provide them with gun locks and connect those at risk of gun violence with appropriate intervention services — like peer mentors, mental health support, job training programs, and more.”

Philadelphia saw a sixfold rise in license-to-carry applications in 2021. Last year, 70,789 people applied for the permits that are required to legally carry guns outside the home in the city, according to police figures obtained by Philadelphia Magazine. “When I saw how high the numbers were, I had to call our stats department to make sure they were right,” a police spokesperson said. By comparison, the application numbers ranged between 11,049 and 11,814 from 2017 through 2020. The spike comes amid a pandemic violence surge that has hit Philadelphia particularly hard and as the Philadelphia Police Department has made it easier to apply for such licenses. The rate of denials also decreased last year, dropping to just under 10 percent from an average of 17.5 percent in the previous four years.

South Carolina’s capital walks a narrow path for tighter gun laws in the face of preemption. In 2019, Columbia passed laws that would have banned firearm possession within 1,000 feet of schools, instituted a red flag law, and added an anti-ghost gun law. But the state attorney general sued and won a ruling against the ordinances last year, citing South Carolina’s preemption law. This week, the Columbia City Council voted to give initial approval to repeal the laws because it wouldn’t be able to enforce them — particularly in the face of state lawmakers threatening to restrict critical funding for the city. Related: We have reported about how these preemption laws greatly restrict the degree to which localities and cities can set their own gun policies. 

Remembering the victims of the Atlanta-area spa shootings. A year ago yesterday, a gunman fatally shot eight people, including six Asian women, at three different establishments. The attack occurred in a year in which threats against Asian-Americans surged. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution marked the somber anniversary by looking at how families of the victims are trying to get along with their lives. “Not a day goes by where we don’t think about our mother and what transpired,” said Randy Park, the son of one of the victims. “The cruel reality is that time cannot be reversed and the act undone. All we can do now is to hold on to her memory and live a fulfilling life.”

Federal judge invalidates the last state ban on stun guns. On Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Smith ruled against Rhode Island’s law prohibiting their use and possession, writing in his opinion that the prohibition was “an unconstitutional restriction of the right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.” He added, “Defendants are permanently enjoined from enforcing [state law] as related to stun guns.” The Reload has more on the case, and the final elimination of stun gun bans, here.

Data Point

41 percent — the share of people treated for a violent injury in urban settings who later return to the ER with a gun injury. [Northwell’s Center for Gun Violence Prevention]