What to Know Today
For the first time in nearly 50 years, a former Philadelphia police officer has been convicted for shooting an unarmed citizen. On Wednesday, a jury found Eric Ruch Jr. guilty of voluntary manslaughter for the 2017 on-duty killing of Dennis Plowden, a 25-year-old Black man. Plowden led police on a brief car chase before crashing; Ruch, who was in an unmarked vehicle, fatally shot him within seconds of arriving on the scene. An autopsy showed that the bullet went through Plowden’s hand before piercing his head, which prosecutors said indicated he had raised that hand to comply with police. The jury dropped a third-degree murder charge, but added a misdemeanor conviction of possession of an instrument used in a crime. The outcome of the trial, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, appears to be unprecedented in at least the last half-century.
Florida’s chief financial officer says credit card companies that track gun purchases can take their business elsewhere. Jimmy Patronis, whose office oversees the state’s finances, urged state lawmakers to respond in an upcoming session if credit card companies “create a chilling effect against the purchase of firearms,” he said in a news release. Last weekend, Visa, Mastercard, and American Express said they would adopt a new sales code for purchases at gun stores. As we highlighted Wednesday, Republican attorneys general and the NRA have slammed the decision, which proponents say could allow law enforcement to identify suspicious purchases and possibly avert violence.
California creates a statewide gun violence prevention office. State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the office earlier this week at an event in San Francisco, standing alongside women whose sons have died in shootings. Democratic California Assembly Member Mia Bonta, the attorney general’s wife, had introduced legislation to create such an office in the Department of Justice earlier this year, but it was among many bills culled during May’s “suspense file” session. The AG said he wants the office to be a “hub for best practices” for cities and groups working to implement violence prevention initiatives. Meanwhile, CalMatters reports, San Diego’s gun violence restraining orders unit is already pioneering the execution of the state’s red flag law.
A gun policy reform group wants to bring gun owners into the conversation. 97Percent, which has two former NRA lobbyists on its board, believes that gun owners are more open to reform than many Americans might think. Named for a 2018 poll that found 97 percent of voters, as well as gun owners, supported universal background checks, the organization seeks pragmatic reforms to firearm regulation. In an expansive profile from The Washington Post Magazine, 97Percent’s founders say they want to use research to find common ground among gun owners, then create educational — and eventually lobbying — campaigns to turn those shared beliefs into gun reform legislation. So far they’ve found that, in addition to supporting background checks, gun owners are largely open to training requirements for firearm purchases and red flag laws — but also that they feel alienated from the dominant conversation about gun reform.
Advance Peace comes to Lansing, Michigan. The pioneering nonprofit violence interruption model — founded in Richmond, California, by a graduate of a Lansing high school — identifies people who are likely to be involved in firearm offenses and enrolls them in a paid fellowship program to connect with mentors and resources for healing trauma, conflict mediation, and life planning. The Lansing program recently started recruiting people for the fellowship, the Lansing State Journal reported. The city saw a record number of homicides in 2020 and 2021, though that number is down so far this year. Advance Peace Lansing was allocated a $1.96 million budget through a mix of local, state, and nonprofit funding sources. Related from The Trace: In the nearby city of Kalamazoo, Peace During War, founded by two enemies who chose to put their guns down, takes a similar approach: Peers work to get others from their communities to turn away from gun culture.
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70 percent — the percentage of suicides among all firearm deaths in Minnesota in 2021, according to a new report from Protect Minnesota. It is the second year in a row that suicides captured such a large majority of gun deaths in the state. [Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder]