What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: Half of Americans think a civil war may be looming. That was one of the eye-opening findings of a new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis, which also found that nearly one in five people expressed confidence they would soon acquire a gun in a situation where political violence is justified. Another one in five endorsed political violence as a means to achieve an important political objective. “This is a very strong methodological study that backs up what we are seeing in a lot of other data,” said Dr. Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment who specializes in democracy and security. “America is at risk of experiencing major political violence.” Will Vant Sant has more on the findings here — an article we published in partnership with Slate.
Indiana mall gunman reportedly previewed plans on 4chan ahead of attack. Several hours before a 20-year-old fatally shot three people and injured two more at the Greenwood Park Mall on Sunday, he reportedly posted an image on the message board with a post that read in part, “Today seems like a good day to die.” That post accompanied a picture of a wedding from Nazi-era Germany, and he shared a link to an image-hosting site that included a photo of him posing with two rifles, a handgun, and magazines, Vice News reported. 4chan has been linked to a number of previous mass shootings, including the May Buffalo attack in which the suspect said he was radicalized on the site that has become infamous for extremist content. Vice also reports that a deceased image of the Indiana mall shooter, whom an armed bystander killed within 30 seconds of the rampage, also appeared on 4chan after the attack, suggesting a crime scene leak that police said they are investigating.
‘It’s not like we’re just moving on’: Buffalo massacre continues to haunt residents. The New York Times spoke to residents and store workers about the terrible after-effects they must still confront after the reopening of the Tops Friendly Market where the gunman killed 10 people. “Some of us saw them get shot. We have to live with that every day,” said Fragrance Harris Stanfield, who is an assistant customer service manager in the store. “The fact that I’m still breathing shouldn’t mean I wasn’t directly impacted.”
Did court closures during the pandemic play a role in the violence spike that started in 2020? That’s one theory that Alec MacGillis tests in a joint ProPublica/Atlantic piece looking at two cities — Albuquerque and Wichita. While the former saw its court system slowed to halt and had a historic year for homicides in 2021, Wichita was able to get its court system online more quickly and saw a 9 percent drop in homicides last year amid a broader nationwide uptick. While there are a multitude of reasons for rising and declining violence, MacGillis spoke with experts who believe the pause in many cities’ justice systems played a factor in higher violence, as it diminished the expectation of “swift, certain and fair” justice that many criminologists attribute to deterring crime.
House Judiciary Committee advances bills to ban assault weapons, repeal gunmaker liability protection. The assault weapons bill would prohibit the sale, manufacture, transfer or import of semi-automatic rifles it defines as assault weapons while also placing restrictions on large-capacity magazines. It’s still unclear if that bill has the votes to pass the full House, where Democrats can afford no more than four defections without Republican support. The committee also advanced a repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act that shields gunmakers and sellers from lawsuits when their products are used in the commission of a crime. Both bills stand virtually no chance of passing the Senate.
3,333 — the number of American children (0-11) and teenagers (12-17) killed or injured by gunfire in the first 200 days of this year, according to Gun Violence Archive. Last year, saw a total of 5,697, the highest year-end total since GVA started tracking in 2014, which saw a low of 2,858. [GVA]