What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: Inside one Baltimore group’s effort to stop youth violence before it starts. In the last 15 years, 16- to 25-year-olds accounted for the largest share of Baltimore’s fatal shooting victims. Since 2019, Roca, a local violence prevention program, has been dispatching youth interventionists to defuse conflicts. But rather than just addressing the flashpoint, Roca approaches violence interruption as a long game. Through cognitive behavioral therapy, the program tries to help young people manage their trauma and regulate their responses to stress and conflict. It’s not a prevention program, as the staff points out, but an intervention program that can take up to four years to yield results. “It can put a strain on your personal life, but we have to be there,” a Roca youth worker tells J. Brian Charles. You can read his piece here, a partnership with The Guardian, following teenagers at risk of being swept into risky underground economies. 

D.C. continues major gun violence prevention push with $59M initiative. In her proposed 2022 budget, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration will dedicate money to expand her inter-agency, public-health approach to gun violence, known as Building Blocks D.C. The plan would invest in a slew of social services and violence-reduction programs, including support for formerly incarcerated people, more money for violence interruption, and employment opportunities for people at risk of gun violence. It also includes community grants for social welfare organizations and residents working to stop violence. “The application is specifically designed for residents who assist the community every day, and I’ve been struck by the number of residents who come out of their pockets every day providing for their communities,” said Linda Hardlee Harper, director of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, of the up-to-$5,000 mini-grants for individuals.

DOJ directs feds to use body cams during arrests, searches. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco penned a memo directing the heads of the FBI, the ATF, and the Marshals Service to develop policies within 30 days requiring agents to wear the equipment during pre-planned arrests and any execution of a search or seizure warrant. The directive comes just days after members of a Marshals task force fatally shot Black Minneapolis resident Winston Boogie Smith, Jr. while serving a search warrant on a gun charge. Despite Smith’s family’s calls for accountability, state investigators said there was no video footage and that Marshals guidelines for local task forces had restricted body-worn cameras. A popular, but unproven, reform: Body-worn cameras for law enforcement exploded in popularity following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. But there continues to be uncertainty as to whether they reduce use of force, according to a policy assessment and literature review by the Council on Criminal Justice’s bipartisan Task Force on Policing.

New York’s Legislature will make it easier to go after gun companies in court. In an effort to sidestep the federal law that protects gun companies from being sued when their products are involved in a crime, New York State lawmakers passed legislation to pave the way for certain civil lawsuits to be leveled against firearm manufacturers and dealers. While the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act gives gunmakers a broad legal shield, they can still be held liable. And as The New York Times reports, the New York bill requires that gun companies implement “reasonable controls” to prevent their guns from being used, marketed, or sold illegally in the state. If they don’t, the law would declare their actions a public nuisance and, the legislators argue, expose them to civil liability.

Philly media pushes back against city paper’s murder guessing game. Philly Weekly is under fire for asking readers late last month to submit their best guesses for what the city’s murder tally might be on November 2, when voters will choose between incumbent Democrat Larry Krasner and Republican Charles Peruto for district attorney. In an open letter to the paper’s leadership, 15 local media organizations lambasted the contest as “disgusting” and showing a racially insensitive, blatant disregard for the pain and suffering of residents affected by gun violence. “From a safe distance, it trivializes what it means to live with this violence,” the letter reads. “Would you act so callously if the shooting victims were mostly white kids?”

Bipartisan Senate talks to reform background check rules break down. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy and Republican Senator John Cornyn had been negotiating a narrow rule that would broaden the definition of federal firearms licensee. Private sellers are currently exempt from federal background check laws, but a clarified and expanded scope could require those deemed to be “engaged in the business” of selling guns to vet would-be buyers. But the two lawmakers acknowledged yesterday that they haven’t spoken in weeks and that there’s currently little chance for a breakthrough. — Tom Kutsch, newsletter editor

Data Point

68 percent — the share of 110 gun murders of four or more people between 2014 to 2019 in which the shooter either killed an intimate partner or a family member, or had a history of domestic violence. The Trace’s Jennifer Mascia recently wrote about the connection between mass shootings and domestic violence. [Injury Epidemiology]