What To Know Today
Chicago’s mass shootings are rarely solved. The Chicago Sun-Times analyzed 212 mass shootings (defined as four or more people wounded) since 2016 and found that charges were filed in just 21 incidents — less than 10 percent of cases. Only two people have been convicted. So far this year, the city has seen at least 39 mass shootings, but only one person has been charged. Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said many mass shootings in the city stem from arguments, and they aren’t prioritized over other types of shootings. A social worker in the Roseland and West Pullman neighborhoods told the newspaper that the prospect of mass violence has visibly eroded residents’ sense of public safety: “Go to the parks on the South and West Sides on a beautiful day, and you’ll see it. There’s hardly anyone there. These are our public spaces, where we should gather. But people have to feel safe.” Don’t miss: Our Chicago reporter Lakeidra Chavis examines gun violence in Chicago in our new “Aftershocks” series.
Portland’s new gun crime unit is having trouble finding recruits. Shortly after the police murder of George Floyd last year, officials in Portland, Oregon, disbanded the Police Bureau’s 34-officer Gun Violence Reduction Team, which for years had been accused of harassing Black residents. A spike in homicides followed, and a new iteration of the unit, the Focused Intervention Team, was formed in March to “deescalate and lower the tensions in the community that are feeding the contagious gun violence crisis.” But so far only four people have applied to its 14 positions, The Wall Street Journal reports. Officials say that’s because the unit is overseen by a citizen advisory board and officers aren’t keen on the scrutiny. And a veteran officer said one of the qualifications for the job — the “ability to identify and dismantle institutional and systemic racism in the bureau’s responses to gun violence” — is too tall an order: “Martin Luther King couldn’t dismantle systematic racism. Now you want a cop to do it? Nobody wants to be part of something that’s set up for failure.”
Two more officers who responded to the Jan. 6 insurrection have died by suicide. Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department announced Monday that Officer Gunther Paul Hashida, an 18-year veteran of the department, was found dead in his home on July 29, just a week shy of his 44th birthday. A fellow MPD officer remembered him as “a model human being” and praised his “work ethic, humbleness and dedication.” Hashida is survived by his wife, his sister, and three children. Hours after Hashida’s death was announced, the MPD confirmed that Officer Kyle Hendrik DeFreytag, 26, who joined the force in 2016, died on July 10. His family remembered him as “kind,” with a “quick wit” and a “great sense of humor.” He is survived by his parents, his brother, and his sister. Four officers who responded to the Capitol that day have now been lost to suicide: U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood, 51, died on January 9, and MPD Officer Jeffrey Smith, 35, died on January 15. [If you are having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24 hours a day: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.]
The nationwide ammunition shortage is impeding gun safety training. The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry’s trade group, estimates that 20 million guns were sold last year, and that 8 million of those firearms went to first-time buyers. That, plus pandemic-related hoarding, has led to a dearth in supply and surging prices for ammunition. Now the AP reports that firearms instructors have been conserving ammo and even cancelling courses — leaving inexperienced gun owners as well as law enforcement in the lurch. Several police academies say they’re having trouble finding bullets, and have curtailed target practice for officers. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” said Duane Hendrix, the range master at the Seattle Police Athletic Association in Washington. “If you don’t have ammo for your customers, there’s no point in having your doors open.”
Gun reform group pledges $25 million for community-based gun violence intervention. Everytown for Gun Safety announced the creation of a fund that will support 40 local intervention programs in addition to the 60 it already supports, which include Advance Peace in Northern California; 414Life in Milwaukee; and Life Camp in New York City. One of the groups set to receive funding, No More Red Dots in Louisville, Kentucky, has mentored thousands of kids and diverted more than 100 of them from crime to college, its founder told ABC News. Meanwhile the gun reform group’s legal arm, Everytown Law, launched a $3 million legal fund to support lawsuits against gunmakers and litigation that seeks the release of gun violence data. [Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.]
Pro-gun Congressman tried to board a plane with a Glock. North Carolina Representative Madison Cawthorn had the unloaded 9mm handgun and a loaded magazine in his carry-on while attempting to board a plane in Asheville, North Carolina, on February 15, according to audio recordings and records obtained by a group seeking to oust the lawmaker. Cawthorn, who objected to President Joe Biden’s election certification on January 6, wasn’t charged with a crime or given a fine of between $3,000 and $10,000, as is standard.
1.71 million — the estimated number of guns Americans bought in July 2021, according to our analysis of FBI data. That’s down 32 percent from the previous July. [The Trace]