What To Know Today

Three Atlanta-area spa shootings leave eight people dead. Around 5 p.m. yesterday, four people were fatally shot and one man injured in a spa near the Atlanta suburb of Acworth; within an hour, four others were killed in two adjacent establishments in the northeast part of the city. Six of the deceased were women of Asian descent, and two others — a woman and a man — were white. The injured man was Hispanic, police said. Authorities arrested a 21-year-old white Georgia man whom they suspected of all three shootings. While the motive was not immediately clear, the Asian-American civil rights group Stop AAPI Hate called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy — for the families of the victims first and foremost, but also for the AAPI community — which has been reeling from high levels of racial discrimination.” In a new report, the group identified 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents nationwide — mostly targeting women — since last March. Check here for live updates throughout the day.

In a sign of potential unrest among NRA board members, dissident director Phillip Journey has found an ally. Journey, a Kansas judge who served on the National Rifle Association’s board in the 1990s and was re-elected in 2020, wants an independent examiner appointed in the group’s Texas bankruptcy case to investigate its compliance with nonprofit law, perks paid to top executives, and related matters under legal scrutiny. The NRA opposes the idea. Rocky Marshall, who replaced a board member who resigned in January, recently sent an email to his fellow directors arguing that they faced liability for not meeting their oversight obligations and needed to become more engaged. “We must find our voice again and reestablish our credibility with all NRA members!” Marshall wrote. He urged board members to consider joining in Journey’s request to appoint an examiner. On Tuesday, the attorney representing Journey in the bankruptcy notified the court that he’s also representing Marshall. — Will Van Sant, staff writer

Baltimore apologizes for past safety failures as it launches new public-health-oriented effort. Delivering on a campaign promise, 36-year-old first-term Mayor Brandon Scott just released a plan taking a holistic approach to fighting gun violence that seeks greater coordination between city agencies and relies as much on social services and outreach workers as on the police. The city finished 2020 with its sixth straight year of 300-plus homicides, and city leaders hope they can make up for a litany of past approaches that failed to make a dent. “We are sorry. Let me say that again. We are sorry,” said Shantay Jackson, director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, during a news conference. “We are explicitly breaking away from past practices to re-imagine new ways to reduce violence and ensure public safety. Doing what we have been doing is no longer an option.” The mayor will hold a series of town halls on public safety and is calling on residents to give their input through an online survey. — J. Brian Charles, reporter

More than 90 clergy in South Carolina join opposition to open carry bills. The state is one of just five that bans going armed in public, and two measures advancing in the state House would change that by either allowing open carry for licensed handgun carriers or eliminating a permit requirement altogether. “Open carry and permitless carry are exploited by anti-government extremists and white supremacists to intimidate the public,” reads the letter addressed to the state General Assembly. The push for open carry in the state, which is likely to advance out of the House but is thought to have a tougher path in the Senate, has also garnered opposition from state law enforcement groups.

Over 1/3 of adolescents say they can retrieve guns in homes where parents described firearms as inaccessible. The findings come from a study by Northeastern and Harvard University researchers that drew on the 2019 National Firearms Survey as well as a follow-up survey of adults and kids aged 13 to 17. In the 70 percent of homes where parents said kids couldn’t obtain loaded guns, 22 percent of adolescents say they could gain access to a gun in five minutes, while another 15 percent said they could in less than an hour. The findings suggest “that the advice to lock all household firearms… should always incorporate the caveat, now empirically grounded, that locking all firearms does not necessarily prevent access,” the authors write.

Data Point

~6 per 100,000 — the murder rate in the United States last year, per preliminary FBI figures. It would be the highest level in 23 years, but still lower than any year between 1968 and 1997. [OPENICPSR, H/T Prof. Justin Nix]