What To Know Today

How prosecutors talk when they talk about solving gun crimes. According to a survey of 1,153 likely voters nationally from Safer Cities, a progressive nonprofit focusing on public safety, the various ways that DAs might publicly speak about gun violence and how to solve it can be a major force in whether the public trusts them to preserve public safety. The survey tested several hypothetical statements from city prosecutors and found that a wide majority of voters across party lines were persuaded by arguments that emphasized the importance of collaborating with police to solve murders (79 percent); the need to couple law enforcement solutions with community violence interventions to reduce shootings (81 percent); prioritizing solving murders over drug arrests, especially for earning the trust of community members who may have information relevant to homicide investigations (75 percent); and taking credit for prosecuting all credible murder cases while also pressuring police for not making enough arrests (70 percent). The takeaway: Safer Cities’ Matt Ferner argues that the messaging is important because it can help convince skeptics that prosecutors are protecting public safety when they champion reforms like deprioritizing marijuana arrests

New Jersey wants its gun owners to know how to safely store firearms outside of their homes. At the end of September, the state-funded Rutgers New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center unveiled a map of businesses where gun owners can temporarily, legally, and safely store their weapons. In a press release, Rutgers lists several reasons someone might want to move a gun out of their home — domestic tension, children visiting, strangers entering the home for a real estate showing, etc. — but one important element is the ability to safely remove firearms from a residence where someone may be having suicidal thoughts. “Research has shown that the risk of suicide is reduced when people have the option to store firearms outside their residence,” Michael Anestis, the center’s executive director, said. Importantly, anyone storing a gun won’t be required to provide their reason for doing so. New Jerseyans can currently use the map to find storage with gun dealers, shooting ranges, and police departments, and the project team is accepting requests to add other businesses to the map via [email protected]. Four other states — Colorado, Maryland, Mississippi, and Washington — have similar maps. 

Wisconsin to use $45M in federal stimulus money for community violence intervention, victims’ support. The money comes from the American Rescue Plan and echoes guidance from the Biden administration on spending the funds on public safety. “Much like the pandemic, [violence] is another public health crisis that deserves our attention and our action,” Democratic Governor Tony Evers said at a press conference Wednesday. “Much like any public health issue, it starts with prevention.” $25 million will go to community violence interventions, including $8 million to Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention and a $10.4 million state grant for violence prevention. The other $20 million will fund victims’ support providers. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes the city has been hit especially hard during the pandemic, with homicides reaching their highest-ever level last year.

Houston’s surrounding county to spend $50M on beautification efforts. The investment to Harris County, among the biggest in the country, can be used for a number of projects, including cleaning vacant lots, planting trees, and home repairs on private residences. Such neighborhood improvements have been associated with reductions in crime and gun violence, according to multiple studies. The money was approved unanimously by the Harris County Commissioners Court on Tuesday.

A U.S. postal worker fatally shot two colleagues at a Memphis mail facility. The suspect in the Tuesday afternoon shooting died from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. “Our thoughts are with the family members, friends and coworkers of the individuals involved,” the USPS said in a statement.

Data Point

20 percent — the nationwide increase in the number of people fatally shot by their intimate partners from 2010 through 2019. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. [Reveal]