On January 9, 100 additional police officers were redeployed to what could be called Philadelphia’s “Bullet Belt” — four police districts that last year accounted for 43 percent of all shootings in the department’s 21 districts — with the goal of quelling gun violence. The initiative was announced the week before Christmas, Mensah M. Dean reports, just as the city marked the second straight year in which more than 500 people were killed by guns. But Philadelphians are already torn over whether the city has sent enough officers to do the job, and whether the increased numbers alone are sufficient without further reform. Some residents have had such negative interactions with police that they’ve lost faith in the Police Department entirely. 

“This is a dangerous area. You can go to the store and get shot,” said one community member. “It doesn’t matter if a cop is down the street or not. That’s not going to save you from whatever obstacles are in your path.”

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What to Know Today

Agya K. Aning has joined The Trace as the newsroom’s inaugural editing fellow. He will work alongside editors in the two-year fellowship, developing his skills, guiding and editing investigations, features, enterprise reporting, local coverage, and data analysis.

Mass shootings appear to widen the political divide between state gun policies. While elected officials in states with strong gun restrictions seem emboldened, many GOP-held legislatures are unlikely to propose new gun laws this year. [Associated Press]

After footage of Tyre Nichols’ fatal beating by law enforcement officers was released, demonstrators across the country marched in protest of police brutality. The officers involved in the killing were part of a now-deactivated special unit. [CNN/ABC News

Seven months before the deadly mass shooting at two specialty produce farms in Half Moon Bay, California, workers at California Terra Garden lived through another firearm attack. The farm has a history of “deplorable” living conditions and workplace violence. [San Francisco Chronicle]

A federal judge declined to block members of Clean Elections USA from gathering at ballot drop box sites, following complaints that the masked, and sometimes armed, members intimidated voters during the 2022 midterms. [Courthouse News

The Justice Department obtained a court order blocking two firearms companies from selling machine gun converters. [Reuters] Context: An auto sear, the most common automatic conversion device, transforms a semiautomatic gun into a weapon capable of emptying an entire magazine with a single pull of the trigger.

Texas’s top law enforcement agency won’t enforce a law prohibiting most people under the age of 21 from owning a handgun, according to an internal memo distributed earlier this month. [KERA]

A Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate wants to open an indoor gun range that serves alcohol and sells firearms on site. The club was previously linked to an incident in which a bullet grazed a pregnant woman from a quarter-mile away. [Jezebel]

A Chicago police training center, once the subject of nationwide protests, opened its doors last week. [Chicago Sun-Times]


The Return of the Machine Gun”: For decades, fully automatic weapons were expensive, collectable, and rarely used in crimes. Auto sears, which can cost less than $20 online, have changed that. (March 24, 2022)