What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Baltimore’s young mayor vows to do violence prevention differently. Just 36 years old, Brandon Scott was elected last November on a platform that includes making outreach workers and social services as important as the police in reducing the city’s persistently high levels of violence. But old political obstacles remain, even as the fatal shooting of Scott’s longtime friend Dante Barksdale last month underscored the city’s urgent need for results. During a recent event, Scott recalled his early meetings with Barksdale when the mayor was a young activist. “He didn’t want any of us to get comfortable in this work because there is so much work to be done.” You can read J. Brian Charles’ in-depth feature here.

“More than just the imposition of laws”: Anti-violence leaders on re-imagining public safety outside the criminal justice system. In a panel discussion hosted by the Council on Criminal Justice, four leaders of community-focused outreach organizations discussed law enforcement alternatives for violence reduction, including focused deterrence, street outreach, hospital-based violence prevention, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Here’s a small snippet of their reflections:

  • “We’re understanding that to generate safety it will take more than just the imposition of laws. Law enforcement needs to back up enough to give space for street outreach workers to do their work and do what’s necessary to make peace… If you’re going to address structural racism and these inequities and gaps we’ve been experiencing and that have been exposed during these public health crises, that shift has to include transforming the community ecosystem.” Fernando Rejón, The Urban Peace Institute
  • “Now is the time to be bold. We can no longer continue to accept the status quo. We have to be loud and vocal about the services and supports we need to help our communities. We have lives at stake here.” Javon Gregoire, READI Chicago

You can listen to the full conversation here.

Abusers are often able to keep their guns. A congressman hopes his new bill can help fix the problem. Today, Democratic Representative Eric Swalwell of California is introducing the No Guns For Abusers Act, which would study best practices for removing guns from domestic abusers and offer federal grant money to local governments ready to fix their systems. Under federal law, anyone who is the subject of a permanent protective order, or who has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, is barred from having a gun. But very few jurisdictions do a good job of removing the guns when they are supposed to. (I wrote about one big exception to that last year: Lieutenant Valerie Martinez in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana — a domestic violence survivor who found a way to fix the process in her community and across her state.) Swalwell’s new law would require the National Institute of Justice to study firearm relinquishment across the country with input from academics and other experts and report back about what works. Swalwell, a former domestic violence prosecutor, told me in an interview that there’s no reason gun prohibitions should be enforced so unevenly: “In some states the relinquishment is swift, in others it’s done on the honors system or doesn’t happen at all.” — Ann Givens, staff writer

Total guns stolen from dealers rose last year, reversing a recent decline, while guns lost reached a new low. That’s according to 2020 data released this week by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives that looked at reports issued by federal firearms licensees. The total number of lost or stolen guns exceeded 13,000 — nearly 7,200 of those were thefts. The figures come as FBI data reported declining numbers for all robberies, larcenies, and burglaries in the first half of 2020.

Graphic: Daniel Nass

Arkansas could soon become the 29th state to pass a “stand your ground” law. The measure, which would remove a person’s duty to retreat before using deadly force, awaits the Republican governor’s signature. He hasn’t said if he supports it, though the GOP-controlled Legislature could still override any veto. Several other states are also considering the laws. ICYMI: A new review found no evidence that stand your ground policies prevent violent crime. 

Data Point

Less than 1 percent — the rate of retaliatory violence in Los Angeles neighborhoods when gang intervention violence interruption programs are involved in responding to neighborhood/gang conflicts. When law enforcement alone is involved in responding, the rate of retaliation stands at about 40 percent of cases. [Fernando Rejón, The Urban Peace Institute]