What To Know Today

Biden team excluded Black-led groups from gun violence prevention meeting. The president ran on an expansive reform platform that included a pledge to create a $900 million fund to support street-level violence interventions — the kind of investment for which many Black violence prevention advocates have advocated. And Biden’s staff made Amber Goodwin, founder of the Black-led Community Justice Action Fund, a member of his transition team, where she led outreach to anti-violence groups. But when Biden’s domestic policy adviser Susan Rice met virtually with prominent gun violence prevention organizations and families of shooting victims last week, Black-led groups weren’t at the table. “The reality that the Biden administration would convene a meeting on gun violence without any of us there, knowing the unfortunate rise of gun-related shootings and deaths in Black communities in the age of COVID, is troubling,” Oakland pastor Michael McBride, a nationally recognized violence prevention campaigner, told Mother JonesRelated reading: In 2019, we reported on the efforts of McBride and other advocates to make tackling community violence a bigger priority for white-led gun violence prevention organizations.

NEW from THE TRACE: What it’s like to be one of Chicago’s “last responders.” Nearly 1,000 people were killed last year in Cook County, Illinois, and 90 percent of those deaths involved a gun. The Trace spoke with Dr. David Waters, a forensic pathologist in training who began a yearlong fellowship at the county Medical Examiner’s Office last summer as homicides were beginning to skyrocket. While outsiders might find his work harrowing, he finds fulfillment in “being a proponent of the truth,” he tells Lakeidra Chavis. “It’s nice when you can provide answers and comfort.”

Why does Louisiana consistently lead the nation in homicides? There’s no single answer, but a trio of authors point to a confluence of causes: a history and culture of violence, violent behaviors imprinted by mass incarceration, endemic poverty, and, yes, ample access to guns. In an article co-authored with The Upshot’s Toni Monkovic, New Orleans-based crime analysts Jeff Asher and Benjamin Horwitz note that Louisiana consistently sees a higher share of homicides committed using a firearm than the national average. The state also has the highest rate of gun traces by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. “There was a reasonably strong correlation between the rate of guns recovered and traced in a state in 2019 and that state’s murder rate,” they write, although the ATF cautions that “traced firearms are not inherently ‘representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals.’”  

Only 5 states ban open carry. Republicans in the only red state among them want to shorten the list further. In South Carolina, lawmakers in the GOP-controlled State House have introduced several bills this session to overturn restrictions on carrying handguns in public; one measure is currently advancing through a House committee. While open carry is popular with state Republicans, the effort has drawn opposition from gun violence prevention groups and law enforcement. “The past year has been extremely challenging for law enforcement and open carry further blurs the lines of what our professionals face during a crisis much less in everyday normality,” said Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano.

Utah’s governor signs a permitless carry bill. The law, which goes into effect in May, eliminates a government permit requirement for carrying a concealed handgun in most public places. At least nine other Republican-leaning states are considering measures to allow or expand permitless carry this year. 

📺Watch📺: Jennifer Mascia joined PBS NewsHour Weekend to discuss her reporting previewing the prospects for gun reform legislation in the Senate.

Data Point

Black police officers in Chicago use force 32 percent less often than their white counterparts. Black officers also made far fewer arrests and stops. [Science]