What To Know Today

Homicides have remained higher in 2021 than in the past two years. In its fifth update on the picture of crime since the pandemic, the bipartisan National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice found that the first three months of this year saw homicides increase over the same periods in 2019 and 2020 — by 49 and 24 percent, respectively. Other findings on crime from the nationally representative sample of 32 cities:

  • Gun assaults rose by 22 percent over the first three months of 2020.
  • Other crimes, including burglary, larceny, and drug offenses, remained lower than the beginning of last year.
  • However, it’s important to note that ongoing elevated homicide rates remain low by historical standards, as those in the cities in question were nearly twice as high in 1995 as last year.

New data puts numbers on crime guns moving across state lines. Of nearly 1.2 million guns recovered at crime scenes between 2015 and 2019, more than 300,000 crossed state lines since their purchase, according to an analysis of ATF trace data by the gun reform advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. Of the guns that went from state to state, about 76 percent originated in states without background check laws. While federal law requires background checks on all sales from licensed dealers, some states also require checks for private sales. The analysis also found that nearly 450,000 crime guns recovered in the five-year period were used within three years of purchase, a possible indicator of gun trafficking. Of that toll, about 84,000 crime guns crossed state lines — 82 percent of them from states without background check laws. [Everytown’s nonpolitical arm provides funding to The Trace. Here is a list of The Trace’s major donors and its policy on editorial independence.] 

Officers fatally shot Christian Hall as he was having a mental health crisis. His family wants answers. The district attorney in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, justified the December 30, 2020, shooting of the 19-year-old who was armed with what turned out to be an airsoft gun, claiming it was a suicide by cop. But the 19-year-old had his hands up when officers killed him after the stand-off on an overpass. BuzzFeed News reports on the family’s monthslong effort to have the shooting investigated and explores whether anti-Asian bias was a factor in the case, which received very little national attention.

Historic gun sales led to huge inventory shortages. Manufacturers say ammo shortages will go on for years. The pandemic gun sales boom has meant fat profits for the gun industry, but producers tell The Reload that supply chain issues are here to stay. “The total amount of ammo that we have on back-order from manufacturers is … sits at an all-time high for us,” said the spokesperson for Lucky Gunner, one of the nation’s largest online retailers. Related: Last year, The Trace’s Champe Barton reported on the inventory shortages that had exacted a particularly heavy toll on gun dealers.

Data Point

More than 70 — the number of Capitol Police officers who have resigned or retired since the January 6 insurrection, an above-average attrition rate. [CNN]