What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: The government is supplying federal agencies with a shooting target that resembles a Black man. Artist Tracy Brown came across the targets after she’d searched online for gun training opportunities. And we learned that the government’s General Services Administration awarded the company that manufactures them certification as an “armament training device,” meaning it sells its rubber dummies to U.S. government agencies in bulk and at a substantial discount. That company, Kistabra, aka Rubber Dummies, secured a federal contract through 2024 worth up to $500,000. “When I first saw it, it made me sick to my stomach,” one police officer says of the design. Brown included a rubber bust of the image for a recent exhibit, “Decommissioning Stage 4,” which opened in downtown Oakland, California, earlier this month. Selin Thomas has that story here.

Women living with handgun owners more likely to die by suicide, according to new study. Researchers studied 9.5 million women aged 18 and older living in California between 2004 and 2016 and found that over 330,000 started residing with lawful handgun owners. They were nearly 50 percent more likely to die by suicide than women in unarmed households. “Our estimate that the rate increased by a relative 50 percent is a statistic that may be of interest to the millions of women who currently do not own guns but reside with other adults who do, to the gun owners with whom they live, and to the tens of millions of other women who currently live in gun-free homes with other adults who may be thinking about buying a handgun,” the authors write. Lead author Matthew Miller, a professor of epidemiology at Northeastern University, added, “It’s analogous to tobacco, in the way we think about second-hand risks from smoking differently than the risks smokers themselves face.” The study was published in JAMA Psychiatry.

She channeled the loss of her son into a violence prevention group. Dorothy Johnson-Speight founded Mothers in Charge after her son, Khaaliq, was fatally shot over a parking space. It started as a casual support group for people who had lost loved ones to violence, and soon gained momentum. “I thought maybe two people would show up, the room was jam packed,” she tells Lakeidra Chavis in Part 1 of a Marshall Project series on mothers and gun violence. Related: Johnson-Speight argued “there is no greater threat to our well-being than our historic levels of violence” in a January op-ed for The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Illinois has been slow to spend some $50M in anti-violence funds. Some advocates are frustrated. Last year, Governor J.B. Pritzker earmarked more than $50 million in federal stimulus funds for violence prevention that will be administered by the state’s Criminal Justice Information Authority. A year on, the state has spent about $56,764. Some advocates are getting impatient as pandemic violence continues to devastate Chicago, while others say it’s vital to get the funding right — even if it takes longer. “Communities needed the money like yesterday. But on the other end [we need] a comprehensive, coordinated structure for this funding,” the Reverend Ciera Bates-Chamberlain, executive director of Live Free Illinois, told WBEZ.

Boogaloo followers involved in fatal shooting of a federal officer plead guilty again. It was the second time that Jessie Rush and Simon Sage Ybarra admitted conspiracy to destroy evidence after a judge previously threw out their plea deals. Along with a third person, who is expected to plead guilty next week, Rush and Ybarra allegedly destroyed evidence related to the fatal shooting of a federal security guard in Oakland in 2020. An ex-Air Force sergeant pleaded guilty to the murder.

Data Point

2.8x — the increased likelihood of dying from gun homicides among 17 million California residents who started residing with lawful handgun owners, according to a study published earlier this month. The researchers are affiliated with the above study on suicide. [Annals of Internal Medicine]