What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: The problem with Chicago’s gang-centric gun violence narrative. For years, city leaders have pushed the idea that gangs are the chief drivers of shootings and other violence in the city. But its own Police Department’s records can’t verify that narrative. The Trace, in partnership with Injustice Watch, analyzed incident data for nearly 34,000 shootings and found that in the past decade, detectives labeled fewer than 3 in 10 of them as gang-related — and even those cases were labeled without enough evidence to make an arrest. The Trace spoke with nearly 30 researchers, city officials, and community members, including current and former gang members, and found that it’s extremely difficult to accurately capture the scope of gang violence in Chicago. Hurdles in that effort include inconsistent police data, the changing nature of gangs over time, and community distrust of police in shooting investigations. That story from Lakeidra Chavis, with additional reporting from Daniel Nass and Chip Brownlee. 

Unintentional child shootings by the numbers. The Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund released a new report analyzing more than 2,000 incidents from 2015 through last year in which a child unintentionally shot themselves or someone else. From the report:

  • March through December last year saw a 31 percent year-over-year increase in unintentional shooting deaths
  • 70 percent of all shootings were in homes
  • 91 percent of those shot by children were also under 18
  • Boys were 83 percents of shooters, while boys and men were 76 percent of victims
  • 2017 saw the highest number of overall incidents (383) and deaths (156)

Related: In an updated, exhaustive review on gun policies last year, the RAND Corporation found that child-access prevention laws — one kind of safe storage policy — were among the most effective gun policies and helped reduce self-inflicted firearm injuries and deaths among minors. [Everytown provides grants to The Trace through its nonpolitical arm. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.]

Hate crimes jump 6 percent to the highest level in 12 years, according to FBI data. There were 7,759 criminal incidents last year, though the number of hate-related murders dropped to 22 from an all-time high of 51 in 2019 (fueled by the El Paso Walmart mass shooting). The biggest share of reported hate crimes were listed as verbal intimidation, with another 21 percent for vandalism, 12 percent aggravated assault, and a small fraction (55 total) for unspecified weapons violations. The overall uptick in hate crimes was fueled by increases against Asian-Americans and Black victims, though there was also a small increase in white victims. Major caveats: The FBI’s numbers rely on voluntary reporting by police agencies, and this year 15,136 out of 18,623 agencies submitted data — a decrease from last year. Moreover, more than 64 jurisdictions with over 100,000 people reported zero hate crimes. As a result, the current system has been roundly criticized by criminologists.

North Carolina governor vetoes attempted repeal of state gun permit requirement. The bill, passed along party lines, would have scrapped the state’s “may issue” system that requires individuals to get permits before buying handguns. But Democrat Roy Cooper said he planned to veto it as soon as it passed the legislature. Lacking veto-proof majorities, the GOP-controlled state assembly is expected to come up short in its override bid.

A former lawyer for Kyle Rittenhouse and 17 current Capitol insurrection defendants is missing. The Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel reports on the unknown whereabouts of John M. Pierce. The family and current legal team for Rittenhouse, who is on trial for fatally shooting two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, heavily criticized the legal strategy taken by Pierce, whose career has been dogged by controversy and lawsuits. In a new federal court filing for one of Pierce’s Capitol riot defendants, a federal prosecutor wrote that the client “appears to be effectively without counsel” given Pierce’s unknown whereabouts.

Data Point

$31,000 — the average cost to hospitals for inpatient care of a person with firearm injuries. By comparison, the average per patient cost to hospitals of all other injuries treated with inpatient care was $12,000. [Government Accountability Office]