What To Know Today

Data reveals the contours of the pandemic gun buying surge. 3.8 million Americans became first-time gun owners in 2020, according to preliminary findings from a new survey of 19,000 people. That group accounted for 23 percent of all gun buyers last year, up slightly from 17 percent in 2019. The study, led by public health researchers Dr. Deborah Azrael and Dr. Matthew Miller, found that 51 percent of new owners reported keeping their guns locked and unloaded — the gold standard for responsible storage — compared with only 29 percent of current owners. The survey also indicates shifting demographics and attitudes in the new wave of gun owners. There were more Black, Hispanic, and female buyers among the first-timers than their counterparts who already owned guns. The findings were presented on a call with reporters and advocates yesterday, hosted by the Joyce Foundation. (The foundation has provided financial support to The Trace. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.) — Daniel Nass, graphics and data editor.

NEW from THE TRACE: After slashing expenses, the NRA has once again balanced its budget. After running a deficit four years in a row, the National Rifle Association ended 2020 in the black, according to an internal report filed in the gun group’s recently failed bankruptcy bid. The report, which the NRA treasurer delivered to its board of directors in January, includes revenue and expense figures for the first 11 months of 2020. It shows revenues of $256 million and expenses of $219 million, and indicates that the group paid down $45 million in debt. Brian Mittendorf, an accounting professor at The Ohio State University who studies the NRA, noted, “To the extent that they had a turnaround in 2020, it’s not because their revenues are up, it’s because they drastically cut the expenditure side.” Will Van Sant has that story.

A detailed blueprint for using federal stimulus funds for state and local violence prevention. The Alliance for Safety and Justice recently called the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan an “unprecedented opportunity to invest in public-health programming and infrastructure that can transform our country’s response to violence.” In follow-up guidelines, the coalition lays out how governments can comply with new Treasury Department stipulations for using the $350 billion available for local and state recovery funds. Among the takeaways: The money can go toward public health expenses for low-income census tracts that include violence intervention programs; premium pay for essential front-line workers that could include street outreach mediators; crime victim compensation and reentry services.

Police are also more likely to kill Hispanic people — but narratives often don’t reflect that. The national conversation about police brutality often focuses on violence against Black people, who are killed at the highest rate of any group (5.7 people per million since 2015). But police killings also claim Hispanic victims at nearly twice the rate as white Americans (4.2 per million compared to 2.3 per million). “I think society has this notion that [police violence] is a Black and white issue, and not for Latinos,” Roberto Rodriguez, an associate professor at the University of Arizona, told The Washington Post. “It’s kind of like, ‘That’s not your issue. Your issue is immigration.’” 

Dr. Jessica H. Beard is the next director of research at the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting. Beard, a trauma surgeon and public health researcher, will work toward the center’s goal of preventing gun violence and creating public support for solutions by deepening media reporting narratives around the public health crisis. “Our research indicates that gun violence in Philadelphia is inextricably linked to poverty, environmental factors, and historic and structural racism,” Beard said in a press release. “However, we don’t typically see these root causes explored or used to contextualize gun violence in local media reports.”

Data Point

Hundreds — the number of officer misconduct files that public accountability experts say the Minneapolis Police Department is illegally withholding, according to a new lawsuit. [Star Tribune]