What To Know Today

Law enforcement, veterans, and military personnel rank as most trusted messengers on gun storage for suicide prevention. That’s according to a study of gun owners and non-gun owners across several demographics. Just as the three most credible messengers were consistent across all subgroups, celebrities and medical professionals/physicians consistently ranked as least credible. But the study noted variations among demographics: Younger and Black gun owners rated law enforcement as less credible messengers than did older and white gun owners. “We hope this serves to emphasize the importance of considering how we are communicating about firearm safety and suicide prevention,” lead author Mike D. Anestis said in a thread. [If you are having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24 hours a day: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.]

NEW from THE TRACE: A pledge to address Black suicides in Chicago falls short. As suicides among white Cook County residents fell to a near-decade low in 2020, the total for Black residents reached a decade high. After our reporting last July, city health officials said they would seek to enact a new suicide prevention plan, and county officials said they would roll out a similar effort by the end of 2020. But neither the city nor the county came through on those promises, and experts are worried the problem will continue. “That is what keeps me up at night,” one expert says. “I know that the wave has started. I don’t think it’s going to stop.” Lakeidra Chavis has the follow-up, in partnership with the Chicago Sun-Times.

The White House hosted the leaders of community anti-violence groups. The 10-person meeting with Black- and Brown-led organizations came a week after an initial gun policy meeting drew a rebuke from advocates for only including the leaders of white-led groups. The Community Justice Action Fund, whose advocacy director was a participant in this week’s virtual discussion, called it a “critical meeting with organizational leaders on the frontlines of gun violence prevention in communities of color.” Related: Washington, D.C., declared gun violence a public health emergency, pledging $15 million for a violence-reduction strategy focusing on the 2 percent of city blocks that were said to account for 41 percent of violent offenses involving shots fired last year. 

Senate Democrats push Biden to quickly nominate an ATF director. As we’ve reported, addressing gun regulation and enforcement through the agency is one of the clearest ways the president can pursue his gun agenda absent Congressional legislation. In a letter, 12 senators are seeking a permanent director who among other policies will commit to more oversight of the gun industry, improve public transparency on Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives crime gun data, crack down on the proliferation of ghost guns, and require gun dealers to notify the FBI on delayed background checks that have allowed prohibited purchasers to buy guns.

Sturm, Ruger reports massive sales numbers. One of America’s biggest gunmakers reported its year-over-year net sales were up 38 percent in 2020 — $568.86 million compared to $410.5 million. The company’s CEO said sales would have been even higher were it not for inventory shortages during a historic year for gun purchases. Related: We reported on how such shortages exacted a particularly heavy toll on gun dealers.

Data Point

$281.5 million — the share of Chicago’s $1.2 billion federal COVID-19 relief money that went to police payroll. [The Chicago Tribune]