What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Few know of Illinois’ victim compensation program  — fewer end up with funding. Under the federal Victims of Crime Act, or VOCA, Congress disperses millions each year to compensate crime victims through reimbursements not covered by insurance. Every state has a program, and they all operate differently. In Illinois, the annual budget hovers around $6 million. But The Trace analyzed nearly 15,000 claims processed through the state’s program between 2015 and 2020, and found that fewer than four in 10 applicants got any reimbursement money. In Chicago, just one application was filed for every 50 violent crimes during that time period. Most claims were denied or designated as “award no pay,” meaning someone was eligible to get the money, but an analyst couldn’t verify their information. In reporting the story published with the Chicago Sun-Times, Block Club Chicago, and La Raza, Lakeidra Chavis and Daniel Nass learned that three factors contribute to the lack of payout: 1) strict eligibility criteria; 2) burdensome application requirements; 3) not enough outreach from government agencies. As a result, many survivors, like Zay Manning, end up on the other side of the paperwork with nothing to show for it. “It was a lot of documentation, I didn’t really understand [it],” he said. “I got discouraged.” Resources for shooting victims: Learn more about VOCA laws and how they can help cover costs in our explainer. And don’t miss this dive into how Lakeidra reported this story, balancing interviews with nearly 50 survivors, family members, researchers, advocates, and government officials and thousands of victim compensation claim documents. 

The case for reducing gun violence: Funding groups on the frontlines. Advocates Eddie Bocanegra, senior director of READI Chicago, Erica Ford, founder of LIFE Camp, Inc. in New York, and Pastor Mike McBride of LIVE FREE in Oakland, write in Time urging officials to shift away from calls to “police our way out of the bloodshed.” Instead, drawing on their experience running community violence intervention programs, they have a simple ask: money for programs that address the cycle of intergenerational poverty, violence, and trauma that drives shootings. “If we want to stop gun violence, we can’t just turn the wheel back to the enforcement-first playbook of the past, we have to break the cycle of trauma that’s driving it,” they write. Related: Advocates running community-based violence intervention programs in Chicago tell Block Club Chicago that their vital efforts are made harder without sustained financial support or backing from the city.  

California court advances case against gun manufacturer, seller in 2019 Poway synagogue shooting. Smith & Wesson and San Diego Guns sought to toss out a suit brought by Brady Legal on behalf of the victims’ families. They alleged that the gunmaker negligently designed and marketed — and that the gun dealer illegally sold — the rifle used by the gunman who killed one congregant and injured three others on the final day of Passover. Judge Kenneth J. Medel of the Superior Court of California for San Diego County said he would allow the case to proceed, rejecting the companies’ claims that they could not be held responsible because of the 2005 federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act law that often shields gun businesses from certain lawsuits.

First national consensus guidelines on firearm injury outline educational priorities for health professionals. Born out of a 2019 meeting of 33 clinicians, researchers, and educators across the country, the guidelines published in the journal Academic Medicine are designed to educate medical professionals about firearm injury prevention. The guide addresses the dearth in formal medical education programs around safe gun storage, intimate partner violence, mass violence, police shootings, peer violence, suicide, and unintentional injury. “With an improved foundation for curriculum development and educational program-building, clinicians will be better informed to engage in a host of firearm injury prevention initiatives both at the bedside and in their communities,” the guidelines read.

Data Point

29 — the number of law enforcement officials killed by gunfire so far in 2021 after the fatal shooting of a detective in Indiana. Overall, 161 people have been killed in the line of duty. In 2020, 45 died in intentional shootings out of 369 line-of-duty deaths. [Officer Down Memorial Page]