What To Know Today

Fewer Americans reported being victimized by guns last year. Does that mean there were fewer gun crimes? The drop was consistent with declines in every category of crime captured in the newly released 2020 National Crime Victimization Survey. Unlike FBI crime figures, this survey of U.S. crime victims includes incidents that weren’t reported to police, though it notably excludes homicides. The survey found that gun victimizations — defined as violent offenses where perpetrators possessed, showed, or used firearms — dropped by 27 percent from 2019 to 2020. In 60.6 percent of those gun victimizations (212,470 cases), victims said they reported incidents to police, just slightly higher than the 60.3 percent who reported in 2019. Declines with asterisks: The NCVS changed its methodology last year due to pandemic disruption, leading to a temporary suspension of in-person interviews just as violence was spiking last summer. And a number of crime analysts wondered about the veracity of the final results. As criminologist Jeff Asher noted on Twitter: “The lack of national shooting data makes it virtually impossible to say much about national gun violence trends with confidence other than that murder went up a ton.” Moreover, while there were fewer incidents of all crime in the NCVS, intimate partner violence was one area where people reported fewer of those cases to the police — from 58.4 percent of cases in 2019 to 41.4 percent last year. A different picture: Last month, the FBI’s final 2020 numbers based on voluntary police reporting saw a rise in violent crimes, including a historic 29-percent rise in murder, and declines in most other crimes.

Another major metropolitan area surpasses last year’s gun violence stats. King County, Washington, home to Seattle, saw more fatal and nonfatal shootings in January through September than in all of 2020, according to data from the county’s top prosecutor’s office. All told, 73 people had been killed and 268 injured with guns through last month. The 69 gun homicides and 268 firearm injuries in 2020 together were already 36 percent higher than the three-year gunshot victim average from 2017 through 2020.

Dominion Energy says it “failed to vet” political donations to group running gun-related ads in Virginia’s governor’s race. The energy giant gave at least $250,000 to a Democratic-affiliated PAC running ads against Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin that made it seem like the ads were coming from a right-wing group. The ads criticized Youngkin for being insufficiently pro-gun rights, an apparent ploy to reduce turnout among state Republicans. In an email to staff, Dominion’s CEO said he wasn’t aware the ads would imply they were coming from a conservative group and asked for the donations back. The election between Youngkin and Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe takes place on November 2.

Protester shot by Kyle Rittenhouse sues Kenosha for police allegedly deputizing “vigilantes.” Gaige Grosskreutz was the only survivor among the three people Rittenhouse shot last summer as people protested the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Grosskreutz filed the suit against the city and county late last week in federal court and is seeking unspecified damages and a jury trial. It’s the second major federal lawsuit against Kenosha, following a similar filing from the family of Anthony Huber in August. Rittenhouse, whose criminal trial begins soon, has pleaded not guilty and says his actions were taken in self-defense.

Data Point

$150 million — the total amount Republican Maryland Governor Larry Hogan says he’ll invest in state and local police agencies as a part of his “re-fund the police” plan — though, we should note, lawmakers have not actually voted to decrease police funding at a state level in recent years. Yesterday, we reported on the Baltimore activists working to use the city budget to achieve its goal of shrinking the city’s emphasis on policing. [The Baltimore Sun]