What To Know Today

In Chicago, as shootings worsened in areas already facing elevated violence, many safe neighborhoods got safer. That’s according to an analysis of 2021 data by The Chicago Sun-Times and University of Chicago Crime Lab. Last year, Chicago saw the highest number of homicides since the early 1990s. Areas that are poor, majority nonwhite, and that were already experiencing elevated levels of violence generally saw the biggest increases. And of the 77 neighborhoods the analysis divided Chicago into, just 10 experienced over half of all homicides in the city. The seven most violent police districts saw murder rates 25 times higher than the city average. “We do have a gun violence crisis in Chicago, and it has always been hyper-concentrated in just a handful of neighborhoods,” said Roseanna Ander, the Crime Lab’s executive director. Since the Crime Lab started tracking such data 60 years ago, the gulf between safest and least-safe areas has never been wider. 

The DOJ sets new rule requiring gun dealers to provide safe gun storage. The measure, which the Biden White House previewed in November and Attorney General Merrick Garland announced on Monday, implements and codifies existing requirements from the Gun Control Act. The new rule requires federal firearm licensees (FFLs) to certify that they have safe storage options that are compatible with the firearms they are selling, and that those options are available to customers. The rule, which was submitted with the Federal Register for publication as a final rule, takes effect on February 3. Garland also announced that the ATF published a best practices guide to help FFLs comply with federal gun laws and regulations. 

The many possible causes of the pandemic gun surge — and why a leading criminologist is optimistic. John Roman writes on his blog that he sees the recent spike in violence as a somewhat isolated phenomenon and not necessarily part of an ongoing trend. He goes on to reassess his past analysis that five factors help explain the spike: pandemic disruptions; community trauma begetting more violence; neighborhood disinvestment and segregation; police illegitimacy; and historic gun sales. Looking ahead into the new year, he believes the first three are likely to improve when the pandemic dissipates, communities heal, and large federal and state investments reach at-risk communities. He believes that issues of police legitimacy will largely remain unchanged this year and that the biggest unknown is the effect the historic rise in civilian gun ownership will have on violence in the long term. 

Jackson, Mississippi, had the country’s highest murder rate last year. That’s according to an analysis by WLBT, a local NBC affiliate, which looked at the per capita rates of killing in cities with a population of at least 130,000. Jackson’s rate was 99.5 homicides per 100,000 residents, compared to the next highest cities of Louisville, Kentucky (76.4 per 100,000) and Birmingham, Alabama (65.8 per 100,000). It should be noted that these were not the cities with the highest total numbers of murders.

“I don’t want to kill you, I want to heal with you:” A Philly influencer pushes violence prevention. In 2004, Brandon Chastang survived a shooting and overcame his subsequent addiction to painkillers. He has since become a motivational speaker, sobriety advocate, and video creator, among many other things. The local Fox 29 station talked to him about how he’s urging his large following to prevent further violence from erupting after a particularly bleak year in the city. Live in Philly and need help? Our Up The Block is a resource hub for Philadelphians affected by gun violence.

Data Point

42 — the number of gun violence acts committed on K-12 school campuses during normal operating hours in 2021, the most since at least 1999. In 2020, there were 30. [The Washington Post]