What To Know Today

NEW from THE TRACE: In disadvantaged areas, shootings cluster near gun shops, study finds. Researchers from Rutgers University used shooting and demographic data to explore the relationship between gun stores and violence between 2016 and 2018 in Atlanta. They found that shootings in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty and unemployment tended to cluster around gun shops. In better-off neighborhoods, the opposite was true: Gun stores almost seemed to repel shootings. The analysis suggests that the ways certain gun dealers increase access to firearms make disadvantaged neighborhoods more violent. “We hope our study redirects some focus to that point of origin rather than the necessary but significantly more difficult process of interrupting gun trafficking networks,” said Daniel Semenza, a Rutgers sociologist and the study’s lead author. The findings come as the Biden administration pursues a harder line against noncompliant gun dealers. Champe Barton has more on the study here.

Young people are more likely to carry firearms if they believe their local police are biased. That’s the key takeaway from a recent study from researchers connected to the University of Michigan Injury Prevention Center. Building on past research connecting a neighborhood’s reputation for violence to more residents carrying guns, the study explored whether attitudes toward police made individuals even more likely to arm themselves. Their findings supported their main hypothesis — when people in more violent areas believe police won’t protect them because of bias, they are more likely to carry guns — but did not bear out their second, which proposed this effect would be amplified among Black communities versus other racial groups. In a university press release, co-author Patrick Carter said the findings highlight the importance of repairing trust between law enforcement and the young people in communities they serve. “What this analysis adds to the picture is that the likelihood youth will carry a firearm to protect themselves from violence is higher when they also distrust the police and feel they are more likely to be victimized rather than protected during police encounters,” he said.

Washington State Legislature advances large capacity-magazine ban. The Senate voted along party lines on the measure that would bar the manufacture, distribution, and sale of magazines on rifles and semiautomatic pistols holding more than 10 rounds of ammo. Democrats control the governor’s office as well as the House where the bill heads next, though a similar effort failed in the lower chamber in 2020. The full panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which has jurisdiction for Washington, recently upheld California’s similar ban as constitutional, giving bill supporters hope that it would be poised to survive further legal challenges if enacted. At the same time, one of many petitions pending before the Supreme Court is a challenge to New Jersey’s own high-capacity magazine ban.  

Six soldiers from the same Texas National Guard border mission have died from gunshot wounds since October. On Monday, a service member became the latest, in an apparent accidental shooting while traveling with another soldier. They were assigned to Operation Lone Star, which is supposed to protect the U.S.-Mexico border. The victim was the second Texas National Guard member to die in an unintentional shooting since the beginning of the year, when a soldier accidentally killed himself while drinking. The same border operation has also seen four gun suicides since October. Every death has involved a service member’s personal firearm, the Army Times reports.

Police fatally shot 1,055 people last year, the most since The Washington Post started tracking in 2015. While the figure surpasses the 2020 and 2019 totals — 1,021 and 999, respectively — overall the rate has stayed largely stable, never dropping below the 958 seen in 2016. “I think the data is pretty consistent that there have been no major changes in policing, at least in terms of these officer-involved shooting deaths,” a data scientist and criminologist told the Post.

Capitol rioter invokes Second Amendment in long-shot bid to dismiss charges. Christopher Alberts was one of the first people charged over the insurrection and pleaded not guilty to three gun charges including illegally carrying a gun on Capitol grounds and unlawful entry into restricted grounds. In a new motion to dismiss some charges, Alberts argues that the gun violations themselves are based on unconstitutional restrictions and thus should be dismissed. As courts have consistently upheld bans on citizens carrying guns in sensitive places, his arguments are highly unlikely to sway the federal judge in the case.

Data Point

459 — the number of women murdered by their current or ex-husbands in 2020.

577 — the number of women murdered by boyfriends in 2020. [FBI final 2020 homicide data]

On Wednesday, a provision was stripped from a Senate agreement on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act that would have closed the so-called boyfriend loophole in federal law allows non-spousal dating partners with misdemeanor abuse convictions to keep their guns.