A trove of recorded investigative interviews and body-worn camera footage sheds new light on the disastrous law enforcement response to the mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last year. The findings reveal that the children at Robb Elementary School, who had been trained for such events through active-shooter drills, were more prepared for an attack than many of the officers charged with stopping it.
The contrast shows that, 20 years after Columbine, police are still not adequately trained to respond to a mass shooting, and nationwide policy gaps instead put the onus of preparedness on victims, like the children of Uvalde. [FRONTLINE/The Texas Tribune and ProPublica]
For veterans, guns are more than tools. They’re a deeply ingrained part of identity and daily life; in combat situations, firearms are potentially “the only difference between life and death,” Jenny D’Olympia, a psychologist who served in Afghanistan and Oman, told The Trace’s Chip Brownlee. For some veterans, D’Olympia said, guns feel almost like an extension of their body.
Many mental health practitioners, on the other hand, have little experience with firearms — and that lack of knowledge can be a barrier to connecting with those who’ve served. Veterans die by suicide at a rate 57 percent higher than nonveterans, and most of those who take their own life do so with a gun. D’Olympia knew something needed to change.
So last year, she teamed up with two other veterans to make that change. They launched a pilot program in Massachusetts to teach mental health practitioners how veterans think about their guns — and how to respectfully approach them about suicide prevention measures. In the latest edition of The Trajectory, Brownlee has more on the pilot, its effectiveness, and veterans’ unique connection to firearms.
What to Know Today
The FBI, the ATF, the DEA, and the U.S. Marshals Service release little data about use-of-force incidents, despite 30 years of demands that the federal law enforcement agencies be transparent about who, when, and why they shoot. A review of information accessible to the public shows that the agencies, all overseen by the Justice Department, continue to use tactics that many big-city police departments have abandoned. [NBC]
The threat of armed insurrection is rising in the U.S., driven by the increasing presence of firearms in political spaces, according to researchers at the Center for Gun Violence Solutions at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Their report, which also includes policy recommendations, notes that as extremist group activity has surged in recent years, a growing number of Americans have expressed willingness to engage in political violence. [Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health]
Massachusetts’ highest court appeared perplexed about whether a state law banning switchblades violates the Second Amendment precedent set under the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision, which has been widely criticized for its vagueness. In a comment he later called “facetious,” one justice, referring to U.S. v. Rahimi, asked: “Should we just wait them out and see what they do on the domestic violence case and see if Bruen goes away?” [Bloomberg Law News]
Gun rights advocates filed a second challenge to California’s new concealed carry restrictions. Set to take effect in January, the law prohibits carrying guns in a number of “sensitive places,” like daycares and courts; raises the minimum age for gun permits from 18 to 21; and allows cities and counties to require applicants to pass a mental health test, among other measures. [San Francisco Chronicle/CalMatters]
After mass shootings in Washington state and Texas over the weekend, the U.S. hit a grim milestone – 38. With less than a month of 2023 left, this year set the record for the highest number of mass killings — defined in this context as four or more people shot and killed, excluding the shooter — of any year since at least 2006. The previous record, 36, was set last year. [The Washington Post]
Firearm sales surged after the start of the pandemic in 2020, but not all buyers were enthusiastic about their purchase. In Philadelphia, reluctant new gun owners explain why they purchased their weapons and how their approach to safety has changed since. [The Philadelphia Inquirer]
2 — the number of states that have laws requiring all officers to undergo training for mass shooting situations after they graduate from police academies. In comparison, at least 37 states have laws mandating that schools conduct active shooter-related drills; 33 require that they be conducted at least annually. [FRONTLINE/The Texas Tribune and ProPublica]