What To Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: States may have found a way through the gun industry’s liability shield. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, is a 2005 federal law that shields gunmakers and sellers from lawsuits when their products are used in the commission of a crime. Passed after a wave of municipal lawsuits against the industry in the 1990s and early 2000s, the law has effectively quashed most attempts to sue gunmakers for their contribution to gun violence. But California, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York have now passed laws that require gun companies to impose “reasonable controls” on their distribution chains and more carefully monitor how and where they sell firearms. And by seizing on narrow exceptions written into PLCAA, the laws set the stage for efforts to sue gunmakers and require gun companies to face accountability in court for practices that are determined to be careless. Read more about these laws and what they target in Champe Barton’s latest story.
Philadelphia’s shooting surge continues as officials debate what to do about guns. The city’s homicide numbers are on pace to be the worst in history, trending higher than even last year’s record. The violence is concentrated in a relatively small number of historically disenfranchised neighborhoods. In many areas, young people, already skeptical of the police and afraid of violence, say that carrying a gun is both easy and important for protection. “Nobody’s without a gun in these ZIP codes, because they’ve always been dangerous,” Jonathan Wilson, a Philly-based violence prevention advocate who is working on a multicity survey of young people’s attitudes about guns, told The New York Times. As the city proposes a litany of solutions, including community-focused interventions, leaders are divided. While the police want illegal gun possession cases to be part of the solution, District Attorney Larry Krasner continues to be skeptical: “You can make massive numbers of gun arrests, and you do not see significant reductions in shooting,” he told the Times, noting that arrests for illegal guns reached record levels last year even as there were no arrests in about 75 percent of fatal shootings. How candidates running to represent Philadelphia say they’ll address gun violence. We asked them to answer residents’ questions about the crisis that has taken more than 320 lives this year.
Assessing the risks for people with postpartum depression and guns. Public health researchers conducted a survey to explore the link between gun access and increased suicide risk in the home. They examined people in nine jurisdictions who were asked about a loaded gun in the home in a screening and also exhibited signs of postpartum depression. They found that 9 percent of participants exhibiting signs of depression said they had a loaded gun in the home, and that those respondents were more likely to be white and live in a rural area. Meanwhile, of people who reported attending a postpartum checkup, 79 percent with a loaded gun in the home said they’d been asked if they were feeling depressed, compared to 89 percent of those without a gun. The takeaway: “Access to firearms in this screening may need to be considered to reduce risk of injury among birth parents experiencing [postpartum depression] symptoms.”
In Los Angeles, police shot at unarmed suspects — then filed weapons charges. In at least five cases this year, LAPD officers shot at people holding something other than a gun or knife — specifically a lighter, car part, and cellphone. But in four of the cases, The Los Angeles Times reports, police still pursued weapons charges. The push for charges in at least two of those cases has drawn widespread condemnation — and allegations that police were trying to deflect attention from the shootings.
Baltimore mourners gather to remember a slain 15-year-old girl. Nykayla Strawder was killed on the front porch of her family’s West Baltimore home on Saturday. Police ruled it an accidental shooting by a 9-year-old boy. On Tuesday night, more than 100 people gathered to remember her. “She went from a kid who needed so much to a kid who just blossomed,” her aunt and guardian, Donyette McCray, told The Baltimore Sun. Residents expressed support for schools and youth, services to keep kids off the streets, and for locking up guns. “I don’t think anyone could even fathom what happened here,” said an advocate with Baltimore Ceasefire 365.
More than 1,400 — the number of people shot this year in Philadelphia, a higher toll than in much larger cities like Los Angeles and New York. [The New York Times]