What To Know Today

Takeaways from Columbia Journalism Review’s summit on media and mass shootings. The magazine, along with the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, convened experts, advocates, and journalists from several media organizations — including The Trace’s Alain Stephens. The conversation focused on the need to move gun violence coverage away from breaking news coverage of select high-profile shootings that make up a fraction of overall violence. Panelists called for more widespread media literacy on guns and gun violence, coverage that focuses on the Black and Brown communities disproportionately affected, elevating investigative journalism over sensationalist coverage, and highlighting solutions and people working to fight gun violence. A few salient quotes:

  • “If we only talk about gun violence in the context of local crime reporting, or big national high-profile shootings, we’re missing swaths of stories and issues,” said The Guardian’s Abené Clayton.
  • “Gun violence coverage is racist. Period,” said The Washington Post’s John Woodrow Cox, noting coverage that either dehumanizes people in neighborhoods facing elevated violence or ignores them altogether. “We need to be intentional about going back later” to revisit and humanize the lives affected after the fact, he added.
  • “The media are telling us whose lives matter,” said Jessica Beard, a trauma surgeon in the city affiliated with the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting. “Half the time there is nothing there for shooting victims in Philadelphia.“
  • “If a lot of the gun stories sound the same, it’s because a lot of the people writing them are the same, or coming from the same demographics,” said Alain Stephens, speaking about the disconnect between the communities most affected by gun violence and the backgrounds of the journalists who cover it. 

The NRA paid millions of dollars more than contracts allowed to a vendor who hosted CEO Wayne LaPierre on his yacht. That’s according to evidence introduced Tuesday in the second day of hearings this week in the gun group’s Texas bankruptcy case. An attorney for the New York Attorney General’s Office produced National Rifle Association documents that indicated the group had paid a trio of companies linked to Hollywood producer David McKenzie more than $800,000 a month above the maximum amount stipulated in contracts. The excess payments began in 2018 and continued until the NRA’s January bankruptcy, suggested the attorney, who indicated that LaPierre and former CFO Woody Phillips verbally approved the increases in violation of NRA procurement rules. LaPierre and Phillips are defendants in New York’s lawsuit against the NRA. McKenzie is a longtime NRA vendor and LaPierre associate. LaPierre recently testified that he’d taken refuge on McKenzie’s yacht Illusions in the Bahamas as a security measure following mass shootings. — Will Van Sant, staff writer

At least eight states are considering reforming how police respond to people in crisis. The Associated Press tallied active bills from California to New York that would require additional training for officers dealing with people facing mental health challenges. In recent years, cities across the country have moved to change the way armed officers respond to crisis calls, after a number of high-profile instances led to fatal shootings. 

Counties with biggest declines in white population most likely to be home of Capitol insurrectionists. That’s one conclusion of a new analysis of the 377 people arrested over the attack. “Understanding where most alleged insurrectionists come from is a good starting point in identifying areas facing elevated risks of further political violence,” extremism researcher Robert Pape of University of Chicago’s Chicago Project on Security and Threats writes in The Washington Post. 

Poll: More than half of GOP voters say Capitol riot was the work of left-wing saboteurs. According to an Ipsos-Reuters survey, 55 percent of self-identified Republicans said the insurrection was orchestrated by violent left-wing protesters trying to make former President Donald Trump look bad. The false belief was echoed by 19 percent of Democratic respondents and 25 percent of independents. 

Colorado sends lost and stolen guns bill to governor’s desk. The legislation, which passed the Legislature this week, would require a person to notify law enforcement if they’ve misplaced their firearm or had it stolen. The state’s Democratic governor is expected to sign the measure. Eleven other states, plus Washington, D.C., require reporting of lost and stolen guns, which as we’ve reported are a significant source of crime weapons.

Data Point

6 suspensions in 15 years — the disciplinary record of a Houston police officer who injured an infant last month as he fired into a car, killing a robbery suspect. [The Houston Chronicle]