What To Know Today

“Stand your ground” bill reaches governor’s desk in Ohio while gun reform languishes. After the 2019 mass shooting in Dayton, which left nine people dead and 24 others wounded, Republican Governor Mike DeWine introduced a modest gun reform package that included voluntary background checks for private gun sales. With just 10 days left in the state’s legislative session, that proposals remain stalled, but the GOP-controlled General Assembly last week passed a “stand your ground” bill that would expand situations in which people can legally use a gun in self defense without first retreating. DeWine said he will spell out his position on the measure later this week, but he signaled he could veto it if gun reforms don’t advance. In the wake of the Dayton shooting, the governor was greeted by chants of “do something” at a vigil. Said Ohio state Senator Teresa Fedor, a Democrat: “This is not the ‘do something’ they were speaking of.”

  • Stand your ground, in practice. The laws have been associated with increases in fatal shootings, according to a meta-analysis by the RAND Corporation. Other research shows that white defendants are far more likely to make a successful stand your ground defense than Black defendants.
  • “If a white guy pulls the trigger to shoot a Black guy, he’ll say he was fearful, afraid. If I do it, I’m going to go to jail,” Dion Green, an advocate whose father was killed in the Dayton shooting, told me. “It made me angry because we’re trying to de-escalate, and they just escalate the problem even more.” —Chip Brownlee, investigative fellow

“I, as much as anyone, would like to live in a society in which all citizens felt safe without the need of personal firearms,” laments New York Times opinion writer Charles Blow in his latest column, which focuses on Black gun owners. “America could have created such a society,” he continues. “However, it chose not to.” ICYMI: The Trace’s Lakeidra Chavis and Alain Stephens partnered with NPR’s Code Switch last week for a two-part package on the paradoxes bound up with Black gun ownership, past and present.  

Democratic lawmakers press for transparency on Trump appointees. A group of senators and representatives have sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting information on how many political appointees have been converted to career civil service positions during the last four years. The lawmakers didn’t mention any appointees by name, but their missive follows a demand earlier this month from Senate Democrats seeking answers about the Justice Department’s recent hiring of discredited gun researcher John Lott. Gun violence experts told us they’re concerned that Lott may use his post to bury or distort crime data. If Lott was given civil service protections, that will make it harder for the incoming Biden administration to remove him. 

A mass shooting in Chicago left six people wounded. The gunman opened fire on a gathering on the city’s South Side just after midnight on Sunday. It was at least the 602nd shooting in 2020 with four or more victims, the highest total recorded by the Gun Violence Archive since the site started tracking incidents in 2014. (The previous high, set last year, was 417.) A menace within the pandemic: Largely off the national media’s radar, mass shootings have occurred at a devastating pace during the coronavirus crisis. More than half have struck majority-Black neighborhoods, we found in September. 

Data Point

68 — the number of children under 12 who have accidentally shot themselves or another child so far this year, according to a preliminary count. [Gun Violence Archive]