News and notes on guns in America

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Chicago residents made a makeshift memorial honoring shooting victims in the South Shore neighborhood. [Scott Olson/Getty]

Daily Bulletin: Analysis Shows Murders Up Nearly 22% in Large Cities

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Another look at spiking homicide rates finds murders are up in major cities. In April, The Trace reported that gun deaths had increased by 6 percent nationally despite coronavirus lockdowns. A new analysis published by The Upshot updates the picture. Through May, murders are up nearly 22 percent across the 36 large cities the authors studied. Unlike past surges, it’s not just a few places driving up murders: 29 of the cities analyzed had increases. Murders are trending higher even as other violent crimes have declined, an anomaly that’s occurred just four times since 1960. What’s driving the rise? No one really knows yet, and short-term swings can turn out to be blips. “This is such a weird year in so many dimensions, and it’s going to take us a while to figure out what caused any of these differences…” one crime expert told the authors. Different data, similar takeaway: During the first several weeks of the coronavirus outbreak in Philadelphia, hospital admissions for gunshot wounds increased, a group of trauma surgeons report in   The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery.

A licensed concealed carrier pulled a gun on a Black man during a social distancing dispute in Philadelphia. The incident occurred at the outdoor seating area of a restaurant where some diners were un-masked, prompting comments from a Black bicyclist passing by. White bar owner Jamie Atlig responded by pulling out his gun; his attorney said he was “being threatened” and that brandishing the firearm “defused the situation.” A witness told The Philadelphia Inquirer, “The Black man doesn’t need to be killed for this to be a story. A man had a gun pulled on him for speaking the truth.” When is brandishing punished as a crime? Thanks to expansive self-defense laws, not very often, as we explained last weekOther disputes over coronavirus restrictions have led to gunfire. In May, we identified nine such shootings.

The governor of Georgia is deploying the National Guard to Atlanta. Republican Brian Kemp said he would send 1,000 troops to guard state buildings in the capital city, where four people, including an 8-year-old girl, were fatally shot over the weekend. The guard members will be stationed at the Governor’s Mansion; the state Capitol; and the Department of Public Safety building — none of which have seen gunfire. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who requested the National Guard to quell unrest in the wake of the George Floyd killing, strongly opposed the move.

Subway restaurants asked patrons not to openly carry guns. The policy change came a week after Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy asked the company’s CEO to prohibit the visible display of firearms in its U.S. locations. In a letter, the senators cited a May incident during which armed anti-lockdown protesters entered a North Carolina location with pistols, shotguns, and an inert rocket launcher. After last summer’s mass shooting at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, USA Today rounded up the prominent retail and hospitality chains that don’t allow open carry inside their properties.

A bill in New York would require police officers to get liability insurance. State Senator Alessandra Biaggi filed legislation that would require cops to obtain policies that would cover civil settlements arising from excessive force or misconduct, rather than have taxpayer dollars fund the payouts. “The purpose of this bill is to establish a financial disincentive for police misconduct and create accountability for abhorrent behavior,” Biaggi said. Last month, the state adopted a raft of police reforms, including the repeal of a law that shields officers’ misconduct records.

Breonna Taylor’s family said she received no first aid after shooting. The Louisville, Kentucky, EMT lay dying for up to six minutes after police officers shot her during a no-knock raid in March, a new lawsuit contends. The city’s coroner said the severity of her gunshot injuries made her death unpreventable: “Even if it had happened outside of an ER we couldn’t have saved her,” she told The New York Times. The complaint also claims that the raid was part of a large-scale gentrification effort. The city’s economic development department counters that the plan is to transform the properties into permanent affordable housing, and says that residents want solutions to area crime.


97 percent of New York City’s shooting victims in June were people of color, according to an  NYPD official. Tim Winter/Twitter

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks about ShotSpotter during a 2015 news conference. [AP Photo/Seth Wenig]

Daily Bulletin: Gunshot Detection Technology Contributes to Overpolicing, Legal Advocates Say

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Gun companies received millions in PPP loans. The Trace’s Daniel Nass and Alain Stephens identified more than 50 manufacturers of guns and gun accessories that received loans from the Small Business Administration. The total payout: between $33 million and $75 million. Among the recipients: Brownells and Kimber Manufacturing, which both received between $5 and $10 million — the largest loans available. Henry Repeating Arms, a major rifle and shotgun manufacturer, received a loan in the $2 to $5 million range. Read on for more.

Amid calls to defund the police, Baltimore hits pause on gun violence command centers. At the end of 2017, as Baltimore was facing the highest murder rate in the city’s history, the Police Department turned to a tool that appeared to be getting results in Chicago. The following summer, it rolled out Strategic Decision Support Centers in two of the city’s most violent police districts. Staffed by cops and crime analysts, the real-time intelligence hubs keep police informed about what’s happening on the ground and respond to crimes as they occur. In Baltimore, the centers have also shared vital intel with street outreach workers, who say the information “helped save some young people’s lives.” Now the City Council, led by Baltimore’s mayor-in-waiting, has cut funding that would have doubled the units. J. Brian Charles has the story.


Congressional Democrats unveil bill banning machines used to make ghost guns. The ‘‘Stop Home Manufacture of Ghost Guns Act’’ would limit the possession of machines that manufacture gun frames and receivers to licensed gunmakers. The measure applies to milling machines like the Ghost Gunner, which enable the construction of firearms without serial numbers from blueprints available online. The legislation’s sponsors, U.S. Representatives Jamie Raskin and David Cicilline, cited a “nationwide surge in ‘build-it yourself’ gun kits.”

Son of D.C. street outreach worker killed during anti-violence cookout. Davon McNeal, 11, had just arrived at a Fourth of July barbecue in the city’s Anacostia neighborhood when gunfire rang out. He was struck in the head. The event had been organized by McNeal’s mother, Crystal, who is employed by the D.C. government as a violence interrupter and works to mediate conflicts before they escalate to gunfire. Davon, known to loved ones as “DayDay,” was supposed to be on vacation last week in Florida with his grandfather, but the trip was cancelled because of the coronavirus.

Legal advocates in NYC say ShotSpotter contributes to overpolicing in communities of color. Legal Aid attorney Jerome Greco tells The City that the gunfire detection system “gives [police] somewhat of a justification in their mind to harass people.” On several occasions this year, cops responding to ShotSpotter alerts have had confrontations with residents or arrested people for non-gun-related offenses, like marijuana use. The NYPD says that ShotSpotter, which was first adopted by the city five years ago at a cost of $28 million, allows officers to respond much faster to shootings, particularly those that aren’t reported.


“The six people killed and 27 wounded in Philadelphia shootings this weekend will result in an economic burden of nearly $10 million, to be paid mostly by taxpayers, as calculated from the city’s 2019 Roadmap to Safer Communities.” Jim McMillan/Twitter

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Chicago police investigate the scene where 8 people were shot on Saturday. [Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times]

Daily Bulletin: Coronavirus Gun Sales Boom Is Associated With Increased Shootings, Study Says

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Rise in pandemic-related gun purchases linked to shooting spike. Preliminary research from the University of California/Davis’s Violence Prevention Program calculates the increased gun violence that may have resulted from the surge in gun buying that has accompanied the coronavirus (and reached a new record against the backdrop of last month’s protests). Between March and May, the scholars found, 2.1 million more firearms entered circulation than would have under typical demand. Those “excess purchases” are associated with more than 775 fatal and nonfatal gun injuries that otherwise might not have occurred. “Screening for firearm ownership in healthcare settings, supporting safer firearm use and storage, limiting the size of these surges, and addressing other individual and community-level risk factors for gun violence may be particularly important during the pandemic,” said Julia Schleimer, one of the study’s authors. (The Joyce Foundation, one of study’s funders, has provided financial support to The Trace. Here’s our list of major donors and our policy on editorial independence.)

Fourth of July weekend brought more grim evidence of city-level surges in gun violence. At least 160 people were fatally shot from Friday to Sunday, according to Gun Violence Archive, and more than 520 were injured. Several cities experienced particularly bad outbreaks of gunfire.

  • At least 77 people were shot in Chicago, 14 of them fatally. Among the victims was 7-year-old Natalia Wallace, who was playing in her grandmother’s yard during a Fourth of July party when someone in a passing car opened fire. “Kids outside playing, they shouldn’t have to worry about guns and people shooting,” Wallace’s grieving father told a local news outlet. The violence occurred despite the Police Department’s plan to flood the city with 1,200 additional officers. The city has had 350 murders so far this year, putting it on track for its highest total since 2016. 
  • 41 people were shot in a nine-hour span in NYC. The violent stretch began after midnight on Sunday and claimed nine lives. In a statement, City Hall said it was “drilling down on problem spots with the NYPD.” Murders are up by 23 percent in New York year-over-year. 
  • As many as 31 people were shot in Philadelphia, according to local news outlets. The six victims who were killed included two children. “This weekend is a stark reminder that COVID-19 isn’t our only crisis,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted. 

The shooting death of an 8-year-old near a protest site in Atlanta sparked outrage from the city’s mayor. Secoriea Turner was riding in a car with her mother near the Wendy’s where Rayshard Brooks was killed by a police officer last month when she was struck by a bullet fired by one or more people in a group of protesters. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who supported police brutality protests in the wake of Brooks’s killing, lashed out at the armed demonstrators who’ve been gathering at the site. “If you want to be a part of a solution and not the problem, you need to clear out of that area.” She added: “These aren’t police officers shooting people on the streets of Atlanta. These are members of the community shooting each other… Enough is enough.” 

Black militia demands removal of a Confederate monument in Georgia. About 1,000 members of the “Not F—ing Around Coalition” peacefully assembled at Stone Mountain State Park to call for the removal of a nine-story carving depicting Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson, which has been a pilgrimage site for the KKK and other white supremacists. Video showed the militia members, who were escorted by police, carrying assault-style rifles. Meanwhile at the Virginia Capitol, a gun rights rally brought together “boogaloo” followers and armed Black protestors. In Richmond, anti-government extremists paying tribute to a white right-wing activist killed by police during a no-knock raid in Maryland in March were joined by Black activists who’ve carried guns while guarding anti-racist protests at the city’s Robert E. Lee statue. “The unity was fleeting,” reported the NPR national security correspondent who filed this detailed dispatch from the scene — white nationalists who also attended their rally used their time at the microphone to spread hate messages.

ICYMI: What counts as gun brandishing? When is it illegal? Despite footage of a white couple pointing firearms at protesters outside their palatial home in St. Louis last month, legal experts say it may be difficult to charge them with a crime. “The incident shows that brandishing laws are vague and often difficult to prosecute — especially in states like Missouri, where such laws are entangled within a web of other gun rights and self-defense laws,” writes The Trace’s Chip Brownlee in this helpful explainer.


Nine people under the age of 18 have been fatally shot in Chicago in the last two weeks. — The New York Times

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A sign on a makeshift barricade announcing the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP, that police cleared. [AP Photo/Ted S. Warren]

Daily Bulletin: Seattle Clears ‘Autonomous’ Protest Zone

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NEW from THE TRACE: Background checks hit new highs in June. The FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, conducted 3.9 million gun background checks last month, the highest volume since it began operating in 1998. The figure eclipses the previous high set in March of this year, and is 71 percent higher than the total from June 2019. Daniel Nass has that story.

Following several shootings, Seattle clears city’s ‘autonomous’ protest zone. Police on Wednesday enforced the mayor’s emergency order to reclaim the area of downtown known as the Capitol Hill Organized Protest zone, or CHOP, which protesters occupied last month in the aftermath of the police killing of George Floyd. Officers made dozens of arrests during the operation. In the space of 10 days in June, there were four shootings in or near the area, resulting in two fatalities. Police Chief Carmen Best, who is Black, said in a statement, “Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community. But enough is enough.”

‘I’m a Black American. I need a gun to feel safe in this country.’ In a New York Times video op-ed, several Black Americans described their motivation for exercising their Second Amendment rights for the first time. The reasons range from a distrust in police for protection to feeling threatened by the presence of armed white demonstrators. Some interviewees said they never considered buying a weapon before, and others said they don’t particularly care for firearms. But as D.C. resident Nylah Burton said, “Black people, we live in a very violent country, and this country doesn’t give us good options.”

Colorado gun rights activist who flouted the state’s lockdown order wins upset congressional primary. Lauren Boebert, a restaurateur, bested GOP Representative Scott Tipton, a five-term incumbent, on Tuesday. In May, Boebert defied pandemic lockdown orders by refusing to close her eatery, Shooters Grill in the town of Rifle, where staffers are encouraged to openly carry guns. Boebert has expressed sympathy for the QAnon conspiracy theory, which holds that a group of government officials is actively plotting against President Donald Trump. Tipton is the third Republican candidate in the last three weeks to lose a race despite Trump’s endorsement.

Michigan panel has the authority to ban guns in the Capitol building. An independent legal review commissioned by the Michigan State Capitol Commission, which oversees the grounds, said this week that the body can set rules regulating guns in the State House. The state attorney general issued a similar opinion in May. Democratic state lawmakers have been trying to prohibit guns in the Capitol since armed anti-lockdown protesters entered the Senate gallery and angrily confronted legislators in April. At its next meeting in two weeks, the commission will discuss whether to use its authority to limit guns.

Amid a rise in shootings, residents in Albany, New York, create a volunteer task force. The initiative, spearheaded by two community groups, will help connect people at risk for violence with support services and provide resources to the victims of shootings. In June, 34 people were shot in the city, four fatally. “Everybody is seeing that people are dying, they’re hurting, and we really need to figure out how we can fix that,” said Eva Bass, the founder of Bridge the Gap, one of the groups leading the task force.

Suspect in disappearance of Fort Hood soldier dies by gun suicide. Vanessa Guillen, 20, was last seen on the Texas base in April, shortly after telling family, friends, and colleagues that she was sexually harassed by her superiors. On Wednesday, remains were found on the base that her family says are hers. The Army said that one suspect, a woman, was arrested this week; a second suspect, a male soldier, shot himself as officers approached him. Guillen’s family is demanding a Congressional investigation.


State-level firearm suicide rates range from a high of about 18 per 100,000 people in Wyoming, which has relatively lax gun laws, to a low of about 2 per 100,000 people in Massachusetts, which has among the nation’s strictest gun laws. [Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence]

If you are having thoughts of suicide, help is available 24 hours a day: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. 

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Armed “boogaloo” protesters in Richmond, Virginia, in January. [Anthony Crider/Flickr]

Daily Bulletin: Facebook Cracks Down on ‘Boogaloo’ Accounts

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Facebook removes ‘boogaloo’ accounts for promoting violence. The social media giant said it had shut down hundreds of groups and users’ accounts associated with the right-wing boogaloo movement, which advocates a violent civil war. The action comes a day after The Trace published an investigation with The Informant about how gun companies are using boogaloo messaging to advertise their products. Contributor Ian Karbal identified dozens of companies that had posted references to the boogaloo on social media, including Instagram and Facebook. Instagram does not allow searches for the hashtag #boogaloo, but as of June 24 it autofilled suggestions of related terms. After being asked about this by The Trace, a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said additional boogaloo-related hashtags had been removed. “We continue to remove content using boogaloo and related terms when accompanied by statements and images depicting armed violence,” the spokesperson said.

NYC is slashing $1 billion from the NYPD. Critics say it’s a budgetary sleight of hand. The approved budget agreement between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council will cut the NYPD’s budget by roughly one-sixth. Some of the savings will come from canceling the planned hiring of nearly 1,200 officers. But the bulk — some $750 million — will come from reducing overtime hours and shifting school resource officers from the police department’s budget to the city education department’s. Critics say the plan elides key demands for police reform. “Defunding police means defunding police. It does not mean budget tricks or funny math,” argued U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams pledged to invoke an obscure city rule to try and block the execution of the budget because it did not contain a total NYPD hiring freeze or city commitment to end the use of police in schools.

Chicago activists decry police plan to target ‘drug corners,’ flood streets with officers. David Brown, the city’s top cop, announced on Monday that he would deploy at least 1,200 additional officers over the historically violent July 4 holiday weekend to quell shootings. The cornerstone of his plan is to make arrests at “drug corners” — areas known for narcotics and gun possession. Brown urged the courts to keep people in jail over the weekend. But local advocates have decried the approach as ineffective and harmful to people of color. “If criminalization and incarceration made communities safer, the United States would be the safest country in the world,” the head of a city bail fund told WBEZ. “The communities most impacted by gun violence need resources and investment, not more policing and jailing.”

Madison, Wisconsin, school board votes to cancel police contract. The unanimous vote nixes the district’s $350,000 agreement with the Police Department and pulls officers from the city’s four public high schools. The City Council plans to introduce a resolution next month to finalize the arrangement. School boards in MinneapolisDenverSeattle and Edmonds, Washington; and Charlottesville, Virginia, have taken similar actions. Last week, the Chicago Board of Education narrowly voted to keep officers in city schools.

Four-year-old awaiting heart surgery is Kansas City, Missouri’s youngest gun violence victim this year. On early Monday, LeGend M. Taliferro was sleeping when a bullet punched through the apartment where he was staying. He had survived heart surgery when he was 4 months old and was waiting for a second procedure. On a fundraising page for the upcoming Kansas City Heart & Stroke Walk, his mother wrote that her son “is a trooper and lives life to its fullest.” Police haven’t identified any suspects.

The New Hampshire’s legislature sent a red flag bill to the governor. The measure approved along party lines by the state Senate would allow police or family members to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from people deemed a risk to themselves or others. The bill passed the state House earlier this year. The Republican governor hasn’t announced an official position but is expected to veto it. Nineteen states currently have red flag laws.


Nearly 60 percent of mass shootings between 2014 and 2019 were either domestic-violence related or perpetrated by men with a history of intimate partner violence, according to a new analysis of 749 incidents (defined here as four or more people shot). Bloomberg Graphics

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NRA headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia. [Joe Loong/Flickr]

Daily Bulletin: More Bad News For the NRA

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Facing a deepening financial crisis, the National Rifle Association laid off at least 200 staffers this year. That’s according to The Guardian, which reported that the cuts have mainly affected employees at the gun group’s Virginia headquarters. “The widespread Covid layoffs and furloughs have further harmed both the NRA’s legal capacity and political influence beyond what was already a troubling deterioration,” an anonymous staffer told the outlet. In April, Politico reported that more than 60 employees had lost their jobs since pandemic started, and that CEO Wayne LaPierre had announced 20 percent, across-the-board pay cuts and shortened work weeks. While the group has attributed the measures to the pandemic, experts told The Trace’s Will Van Sant in April that the crisis is largely of the NRA’s own making.

The discount chains that have become magnets for gun violence. In May, a security guard at a Dollar General in Michigan was fatally shot after denying entry to a woman whose daughter was not wearing a face mask. It was one of more than 200 violent incidents involving guns (nearly 50 of them fatal) at Family Dollar or Dollar General stores across the country since 2017, according to Gun Violence Archive. In a new investigation, ProPublica and The New Yorker provide some reasons why: The stores are ubiquitous, with a combined 24,000 locations, and they’re located primarily in areas with high rates of crime. “The glowing signs of the discount chains have become indicators of neglect, markers of a geography of the places that the country has written off,” the story reads.

Seattle’s “autonomous zone” hit with another shooting. On Monday morning, a 16-year-old  was killed and a 14-year-old boy was critically injured in the city’s Capitol Hill Organized Protest area, or CHOP, which has been occupied by protestors since earlier this month. Police said they received calls at around 3 a.m. of multiple people firing at a Jeep. The victims, both of whom are Black, were brought to the hospital by volunteer medics. It was the fourth shooting in or near the CHOP in the last nine days. City leaders have pledged to phase down nighttime activity at the site and have police return to the abandoned East Precinct.

The case for keeping summer jobs programs. Facing budgetary shortfalls, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled the Summer Youth Employment Program, which provides jobs to 75,000 city residents between the ages of 14 and 24. In a New York Times op-ed, economists Sara Heller and Judd Kessler argue that, in addition to providing needed wages, such programs make communities safer. According to the authors’ own research, participants in the program are less likely to be incarcerated and have lower mortality rates. They point to similar results in Chicago and Boston, where summer program participants were less likely to be arrested for violent crimes. Chicago’s own program will return at two-thirds capacity this year, while Boston has actually increased the size of its initiative. After criticism, De Blasio has left open the possibility that the city’s jobs program could still find funding as the city closes its budget this week.

An anti-violence group in Chicago is awarding grants to quell July 4 gun violence. The “Hit The Hood” initiative launched by My Block My Hood My City will disperse $50,000 to people or organizations working to prevent gun violence over the holiday weekend, which historically sees elevated rates of shootings. In addition to the grants, which will max out at $5,000 per applicant, the group is hosting a peace march and “positive festivities” in several Chicago neighborhoods. Monday’s announcement follows a weekend in which 63 people were shot in the city, 16 of them fatally, including a 10-year-old girl and 1-year-old boy.

Remington is preparing to file for bankruptcy — again. It would be the gunmaker’s second Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in as many years. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Navajo Nation is in talks to buy the company, which is embroiled in a lawsuit in Connecticut with Sandy Hook victims’ families that is set to go to trial next year. points out one potential benefit for Remington should the sale go through: With sovereign nation status, “the tribe is largely insulated against personal injury claims, which have to be filed in the Nation’s own courts.”

Colorado Supreme Court upholds large-capacity magazine ban. The National Association for Gun Rights and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners challenged the 2013 law prohibiting ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. The justices unanimously ruled that the measure does not infringe on residents’ right to bear arms.


There have been at least 87 mass shootings in June, shattering a single-month record set in May, when there were 60. — Gun Violence Archive

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A protester speaks with Louisville police officers nearby a deadly shooting that occurred Saturday night. [AP Photo/Dylan Lovan]

Daily Bulletin: Shooting Leaves One Dead at a Breonna Taylor Protest in Louisville

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NEW from THE TRACE: ‘Boogaloo’ believers think another civil war is coming. Gun firms are openly marketing to them. The term is slang for the armed uprising that a loose assortment of preppers, Second Amendment absolutists, and anti-government extremists is gearing up for — and in some cases trying to accelerate. Adherents’ fixation on guns and tactical gear makes them attractive customers for gun businesses, which are hawking their products by invoking the memes and rhetoric of the disjointed anti-government ideology, contributor Ian Karbal reports. One Michigan ammo company that has frequently referenced the boogaloo in its social media posts also counts a major gun manufacturer and several local law enforcement departments as clients. Read the investigation, published in partnership with The Informant, which covers extremism in the United States. You can signup for The Informant’s eye-opening newsletters here

Minneapolis officials take another step toward abolishing police force. The 13-member City Council unanimously voted Friday to replace the existing, largely white department with “a department of community safety and violence prevention, which will have responsibility for public safety services prioritizing a holistic, public health-oriented approach.” The plan wouldn’t do away with cops altogether; a unit of “licensed peace officers” would be supervised by the new department.

Shooting leaves one dead at a Breonna Taylor protest in Louisville, Kentucky. Police have arrested the suspected gunman who fired a dozen shots into a crowd of people on Saturday at a park where demonstrators have rallied against the police. The 27-year-old man killed during the barrage was photographing the protest, his family said. Taylor, an EMT, was fatally shot in her own home during a no-knock raid in March. One of the three officers involved in that incident has been fired, but none have been criminally charged.

An armed couple threatened Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis. As peaceful demonstrators made their way to a rally outside the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson in the city’s Central West End neighborhood, a white man waving a semiautomatic rifle and a white woman brandishing a handgun emerged from their mansion to confront them. The couple has been identified as local personal injury attorneys.

Two people were killed in a workplace shooting in California. Four others were injured when a former employee armed with a semiautomatic rifle opened fire at a Walmart distribution center in the small city of Red Bluff, two hours north of Sacramento. The shooter, who was killed by police, had been let go from his job at the facility in February 2019. The incident was one of nine mass shootings to take place since last Friday, according to Gun Violence Archive.

At least 58 people were shot in Chicago over the weekend. Thirteen of the victims were killed, including a 10-year-old girl struck by a bullet that entered her uncle’s apartment and a 20-month-old toddler hit by gunfire as his mother drove home from a laundromat. In response to the toddler’s death, a group of business owners are offering a $25,000 reward for information about the shooters. “Something has to be done,” one of them said. “We are tired, fed up as it relates to gun violence.”

A Virginia judge upheld the state’s new one-handgun-per-month law. A suit filed by the Virginia Citizens Defense League and Gun Owners of America sought to halt the law, which is scheduled to take effect on July 1. Last week, a state circuit court judge said the gun groups were unlikely to convince the court that the measure was unconstitutional. The groups are also challenging the state’s expansion of gun background checks to include private sales. A decision in that case is pending.


112 people have been injured or killed in 83 shootings between June 19 and 27 in New York City, the NYPD said. [1010 WINS]

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Democratic leaders meet on June 8, 2020, to unveil a new police reform bill. [AP Photo/Manuel Balce Cenet]

Daily Bulletin: House Passes Sweeping Police Reform Bill

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The House passed a sweeping police reform bill. Among other provisions, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would curb “qualified immunity,” which shields police from being sued for their actions on the job; create a national database of police misconduct and use-of-force incidents; authorize new grant funding for community interventions like hospital-based intervention and violence interruption; and ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases, like the one that led to the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the bill a nonstarter. With Senate Democrats blocking a competing and far more moderate Republican bill, the prospects for Congressional action this year on police reform appear dim.

The “boogaloo” movement draws increasing scrutiny. Discord, a platform popular among gamers, has shut down one of the largest servers used by adherents of the “boogaloo” movement, a loose collection of far-right extremists calling for insurrection against the government. The move comes as other tech companies like Facebook struggle to keep adherents off their platforms. On Wednesday, three men with alleged boogaloo ties had their first court appearance after being charged in a conspiracy to use recent lockdown and racial justice protests in Las Vegas to cause violence.

Georgia mayors join push to repeal “stand your ground.” A bill filed by a Black state senator from Atlanta would revise the state’s self-defense statute, which holds that residents have no “duty to retreat” from a perceived threat. Any reforms would happen after the Legislature convenes its 2021 session in January. The state’s Republican governor plans to sign hate crimes bill spurred by Ahmaud Arbery shooting. A spokesperson for Brian Kemp said he would sign the legislation pending a legal review. Georgia is one of only four states without a hate crime law on the books.

Fireworks further fray the nerves of Minneapolis residents. The nightly crackle and boom of fireworks have prompted frustration in cities across the country and talk of conspiracies about protest sabotage. But for several communities, and Minneapolis in particular, increasing gun violence has given the festive explosions a sinister air. According to CBS Minnesota, the neighborhood social media platform Nextdoor has been filled with people confusing fireworks for gunshots. “It’s more steady, it’s louder, every night,” one said.

DC attorney general targets ghost gun parts-maker. Karl Racine sued manufacturer Polymer80, alleging that the company had violated District law “by falsely representing that its weapons are legal in the District and by selling illegal firearms.” Polymer80 makes components that buyers can use to construct DIY weapons, sometimes called ghost guns because they lack serial numbers and therefore cannot be traced by law enforcement. Who uses these weapons? Last year, the Trace’s Alain Stephens reported that nearly a third of firearms recovered at California crime scenes were ghost guns.

Missouri lawmakers’ “tough on crime” bill faces bipartisan criticism. The legislation, which has already passed in the Republican-controlled House, would stiffen penalties for gun crimes, dangerous felonies, and gang-related crimes, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The legislation comes as St. Louis and Kansas City, which already have some of the country’s highest homicide rates, join the other cities across the country that are recording increases in shootings. But opponents of the bill — including some local conservatives — have implored the Republican governor not to sign it, saying it leans on policies that have contributed to mass incarceration and disproportionately impact people of color.


Among Black Americans, 93 percent ranked police treatment of Black people as one of the most important issues or a very important issue in determining their vote for president. It ranked higher than any other issue, including racism, the economy, healthcare, the coronavirus outbreak, and immigration. [Washington Post-Ipsos poll]

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[Spencer Platt/Getty Images]

Daily Bulletin: Gun Violence Surges in NYC, Sharpening Debate Over Policing

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NEW from THE TRACE: Chicago graduates a new class of gun violence interrupters. For the past three years, the Metropolitan Peace Academy in Chicago has helped local street outreach workers broaden their toolset for mediating violent conflicts in the city. This month, amid a global pandemic and ongoing national protests against police violence, the academy graduated its fifth cohort — who will now continue helping city residents navigate multiple crises. Lakeidra Chavis has that story.

Gun violence surges in NYC, sharpening debate over policing. The nation’s largest city reported at least 125 shootings in the first three weeks of June, according to police data — a more than 100 percent increase over the same period last year. The increase has intensified an already contentious debate about policing after the killing of George Floyd, fueling claims from police unions and their supporters that cuts to the NYPD budget will usher a return to ‘80s-era crime levels. But researchers offered a different explanation for the violence. Christopher Herrmann, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, told The New York Times it’s more likely that a “combination of warmer weather, Covid cabin fever and the traditional gun violence that we see in June, July and August” was responsible.

Chicago school board votes 4-3 to keep police in schools. The decision preserves a $33 million contract between the school system and the Chicago Police Department, and will leave more than 200 officers spread across 70 schools. Alderpeople who opposed the decision cited the example of Dnigma Howard, a 16-year old who Chicago police officers pushed down a stairwell and tased in 2019, as evidence that the officers were a dangerous presence. Others on the board countered that schools need law enforcement presence to protect teachers and students.

Gun sales are not letting up — and store owners are crediting protests. Sales of firearms and ammunition were already at record levels earlier this year amid concerns of social unrest during the coronavirus pandemic. Now, widespread protests and calls to “defund the police” appear to have triggered another surge in panic buying, CNN reports. “You’re seeing a reaction to people’s concerns about being able to provide safety for themselves and the ones that they love,” said one store owner. “People are coming off the fences and the sidelines and they’re making decisions with their wallets about where they are in this debate about firearms ownership.”

Virginia’s universal background check law faces a court challenge. Gun rights groups filed a lawsuit aimed at blocking the state’s background check measure from taking effect on July 1. The suit takes issue with a fee — “about $17,” according to The Washington Post — that gun buyers will be required to pay for a background check during a private sale. The background check law is one of seven major gun bills passed by the Virginia General Assembly this year. Another measure limiting a person’s ability to purchase handguns to one per month also faces a court challenge.

California bill would increase scrutiny of hunting licenses used to purchase guns. Producing a valid hunting license is the only way someone under 21 can legally buy a weapon in California, unless the buyer is in the military or law enforcement. However, last year, a 19-year-old man purchased a gun with a not-yet-valid hunting license and used the weapon to carry out a shooting at a synagogue in the city of Poway. The new bill, passed by the state Senate this week, would require gun stores and the California Department of Justice to confirm the validity of hunting licenses during a 10-day waiting period before a gun buyer can pick up their weapon. It now heads to the state Assembly for consideration.

“Catastrophic hardware failure” delays background checks in Maryland. State Police warned this week of delays for those purchasing firearms because of a hardware issue at the state’s Department of Public Safety, which is responsible for processing background checks on all handgun sales. Buying a gun in Maryland typically requires a seven-day waiting period, but the system failure is likely to extend application processing times beyond that window. Under state law, dealers can release guns to customers after eight days without a response from the state’s background check system. But: State Police are asking dealers not to proceed with firearm transfers until background checks have been completed.


In Philadelphia, there has been a nearly 20 percent rise in shooting victims (779) vs. the same time last year. Fatal shootings (148) are also up by 11 percent. [Institute for Better Gun Violence Reporting]

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[AP Photo/Doug Glass]

Daily Bulletin: Minneapolis Confronts a Spike in Shootings

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Minneapolis scrambles to deal with a spate of gun violence. Shootings were rising in the city before the killing of George Floyd set off waves of protests, but have spiked during the month since, with 111 shootings since Memorial Day, according to the Minneapolis Police Department. Mayor Jacob Frey said that the department will work with local and federal law enforcement agencies to try to reverse the uptick, but Chief Medaria Arradondo acknowledged the “public health crisis” of gun violence must go beyond policing. “A really hard puzzle”: Criminologist Chris Uggen points out that city officials have prioritized employment as a part of a broader violence prevention strategy. He said while that’s good policy, it’s no panacea: “The early 1990s were high-crime/low-unemployment, and the late 2000s were high-unemployment/low-crime.” One community group’s perspective: Jamar Nelson, an activist with A Mother’s Love, called the City Council’s intention to dismantle the Minneapolis PD “irresponsible.” The group wants to work with the police to reduce violence. “To abolish the police department, to disband them irreparably harms the Black and Brown people.”

In the 11 days after George Floyd’s death, police used violence against protesters 125 times. Amnesty International conducted the open-source investigation of 500 videos taken during protests across the United States, verifying, geolocating, and analyzing the incidents with the help of weapons experts. The organization’s interactive map documents at least 15 incidents involving less-lethal projectiles. ICYMI: Earlier this month, The Trace’s Brian Freskos reported experts’ alarm at the use of so-called rubber bullets on civilians, noting that the projectiles can maim and even kill.

Calculating the racial disparities of police killings. In a new paper for the left-leaning People’s Policy Project, an New York University medical professor looked at more than 6,400 officer-involved killings dating back to 2015. White people had the lowest death rate (3.3 per million), followed by Latinos (3.5 per million), and Black people (7.9 per million). The analysis also found class dimensions to police violence. On a census tract level, the rate of police killings increased as poverty rates increased. In the lowest poverty quintile, the rate of killing was 1.8 per million; in the highest poverty quintile, it was 6.4 per million.

The city that slashed its police department — and recorded a surge in officer-involved shootings. Facing severe budget pressure after the Great Recession, Vallejo, California, declared bankruptcy and slashed its police force by almost half — leaving fewer than 80 officers for the town of 122,000 residents, three quarters of whom are people of color. Since then, the police have killed 20 people, according to reporting by The Washington Post. What caused the spike? A civil rights lawyer says a history of police brutality preceded the reductions, but a consultancy hired by the city blamed overworked officers for increased use of lethal force — Vallejo’s force is now half the size of the national average on a per capita basis. A local pastor and lead organizer of the city’s protests after the death of George Floyd echoed that point to the Post: “Do I really want a man or woman who’s worked 16 hours straight, with a gun in their hand, with state-sanctioned ability to take my life, who is tired — do I want that person authorized to police me? The answer to that is no.” In the meantime, anger continues to build: Earlier this month, a Vallejo officer fatally shot a Hispanic city resident while he knelt; he was found with a hammer, not a gun as initially reported. The mayor has pledged for a more diverse force and more police reforms. But calls to defund? “Our populace won’t stand for that.”

Seattle looks to phase out “autonomous zone.” After shootings left one dead and two people hospitalized in a portion of the city’s downtown occupied by protesters, Mayor Jenny Durkan said the city will work to curtail nighttime activities and return the area to its prior residential and commercial activity — and allow the Police Department back into its abandoned neighborhood precinct house  “peacefully and in the near future.”

Permitless carry bill dies in Tennessee. The legislation would have allowed residents to carry a handgun without a permit so long as they otherwise would have qualified for one. But the state General Assembly adjourned this year’s legislative session without passing the measure. “While the battle is over this year, we’re expecting it to come back,” Bill Gibbons, the executive director of The Public Safety Institute at the University of Memphis, told Trace editorial fellow Chip Brownlee. The Republican governor had previously made the bill a priority, but shifted course after the onset of the pandemic.


There were more than 90 attempted or successful gun store burglaries in the U.S. after Memorial Day through the first week of June, leading to more than 1,000 stolen guns. “It’s the biggest spike I have ever seen,” said an official with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms, and Explosives. [Politico]

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[AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez]

Daily Bulletin: California Police Shot an 18-Year-Old Last Week. His Family Wants Answers.

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NEW from THE TRACE: The brothers behind an extreme gun rights network that Republicans call a big scam. The Dorr brothers are part of a circle of far-right activists who manage more than a dozen nonprofits spread around the country. They have built a massive grassroots fundraising machine that churns out a steady stream of messages beseeching donations off conservative outrage. At the center of the Dorrs’ efforts is their own for-profit consulting firm, which has received huge sums of money from their tax-exempt organizations, fueling allegations that they are deceiving their supporters. Brian Freskos and Alain Stephens have that story, in partnership with The Daily Beast.

Politicians, protesters, and the family of a slain 18-year-old Latino man want answers over police shooting. Last Thursday, Andres Guardado was shot six times by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy near an auto body shop in Gardena, California. It’s unclear exactly what happened before the shooting. Officers said Guardado “produced a weapon” and then fled from deputies, but they also acknowledged that they didn’t know if he ever pointed a weapon. Guardado’s family said the teen was working as a security guard and studying to become a mechanic — and that he ran from police because he was scared. On Sunday, hundreds of protesters gathered in Gardena to demand accountability, a call later picked up by California Democratic Representatives Maxine Waters and Nanette Diaz Barragán.

Mass shooting during a North Carolina block party leaves three people dead, six others wounded. The violence broke out early Monday at a Juneteenth celebration in Charlotte. A local reporter said witnesses described the scene as “happy, peaceful, positive,” until the gunfire began. Over 100 rounds were fired into a crowd of more than 400 people, officials said. The police said there were multiple shooters and were still looking for leads.

Fresh data on the use of California’s red flag law. The state is one of 19 with a law on the books providing a legal remedy to disarm individuals deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. A new study from the UC Davis Violence Prevention Program published in JAMA Network Open found that 90 percent of the nearly 1,100 individuals who were subject to an order between 2016 and 2019 were men — and three-fifths were white. While family members can request an extreme risk protection order in California, police made the petitions in 97 percent of cases. The researchers found use of the red flag law increased substantially from 2018 to 2019. “Media coverage and awareness of these policies … may have played a role in the more rapid uptake in the last year of the study period,” said the study’s author.

It’s still easy to sell gun parts on Amazon, despite a company ban. There has been extensive reporting (including by the Trace) on firearm commerce taking place on technology platforms that have banned such activity in their terms of service. In the latest example, The Markup easily evaded Amazon’s automated filters and listed for sale a 10-round rifle magazine and an AR-15 armorer’s wrench. The listings were posted by an account with no seller history. An Amazon spokesperson said the company continues to try and improve its detection systems.

Chicago’s school board will weigh terminating its contract with police. Board members will vote Wednesday on a motion that would cancel the school district’s $33 million contract with the Chicago Police Department, and force leaders to develop alternative security plans. School districts in Minneapolis, Denver, and Seattle have suspended or severed their ties with police departments in the face of protests over police brutality.


6 — the number of major city or county police chiefs who have resigned or been fired since the beginning of June. The departures have occurred in Richmond, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; Portland, Oregon; and Prince George’s County, Maryland. [The Daily 202, The Washington Post]

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A police officer investigates the aftermath of the shooting in Minneapolis. [AP Photo/Doug Glass]

Daily Bulletin: Police Spend a Sliver of Their Time Responding to Violent Crimes, Analysis Finds

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Logs indicate that police spend a sliver of their time responding to violent crimes. Crime analysts Jeff Asher and Ben Horwitz crunched the numbers from three jurisdictions — New Orleans, Sacramento, and Montgomery County, Maryland – whose data portals sort police calls for service by type and make it possible to estimate how long officers spend on the scene. In those places, only 4 percent of officers’ time this year has been spent responding to homicides, aggravated assaults, and rapes, they report in a writeup for The Upshot. That does not include time spent on ensuing investigations. Why it matters: “As experts continue to debate how best to improve the performance of law enforcement,” they write, “it’s helpful to first have a clear understanding of how the police spend their time interacting with the public, including how little of it revolves around responding to violent crime.”

For police reform, the devil may be in the (lack of) data. Writing in The Economist, criminologist Phillip Atiba Goff laments the lack of comprehensive and consistent data to guide changes to policing. The more than 18,000 law-enforcement agencies in the country each have different collection methods — and some barely do it at all. “Officials trying to reform law enforcement face a dearth of reliable data, such as on racial bias. Without it, America will end up, at best, where it is now: in a policing debate dominated by ideology not information.”

Shootings rattle Seattle’s “autonomous zone.” Gunfire early Saturday morning left a 19-year-old dead and another person injured in a portion of the city’s downtown occupied by protesters for more than a week. A volunteer medic who helped treat the victims before they were taken to the hospital told The New York Times he thought the shootings may have been separate incidents. Another shooting late Sunday night left a person hospitalized. The Seattle Police Department has boarded up its precinct house in the area, leading some demonstrators to celebrate the blocks as a “no cop” zone.

A mass shooting in Minneapolis left 1 dead, 11 wounded. Early Sunday morning, gunmen started firing into a crowded block in the Uptown neighborhood, home to many popular bars and restaurants. The dead man was identified as Cody C. Pollard, a 27-year-old barber and father of two. Nightlife had just started to return after an easing of lockdown restrictions related to COVID-19. The Star Tribune called it “one of the city’s most violent shootings in recent memory.” Mayor Jacob Frey said the bloodshed “only compounds our grief” in a city still reeling from the killing of George Floyd and the unrest that followed.

Armed protesters in Oklahoma marched against racial injustice. “We aren’t going to allow people to come into our communities and brutalize us,” said Omar Chatman, who led the predominantly Black procession of more than 100 people in Oklahoma City on Saturday. He said they were demonstrating for gun rights and against police brutality. “If you come into our community, know we are armed,” he added. The marchers finished at the governor’s mansion.

Besides Minneapolis, there were at least 14 other mass shootings over the weekend. Per Gun Violence Archive:

  • On Saturday, one person died and four were wounded in Jersey City, New Jersey; two people died and two were injured in a drive-by dispute in Pinetops, North Carolina; nine people were shot during a large gathering in a parking lot in Syracuse, New York; an altercation between groups near a Bronx, New York, park left four people injured; a drive-by shooting in Detroit wounded four; in Saginaw, Michigan, a roadside shooting left one woman dead and three injured; a Wichita, Kansas, motel was the scene of a disturbance that left five people injured; four were shot at an outdoor park party in the Bronx; and four were injured in Rock County, Wisconsin.
  • On Sunday, five people were seriously injured during an early hours shooting in downtown Austin, Texas; a shooting at a residence in Auburn, Alabama, left four people injured, one critically; four people were shot in Buffalo, New York, during an outdoor car gathering; five people were injured during a house party in Milwaukee (one of the victims fleeing the scene subsequently died in a car crash); and one man was killed and three others were wounded in an early morning shooting in Humboldt Park in Chicago.


67 people were shot in Chicago over a violent weekend that left 10 people dead, including two teenagers, a 13-year-old, and a 3-year-old.  ABC7