Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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Chicago police officers investigate a shooting at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in April. [Joshua Lott for The Trace]

Daily Bulletin: Chicago’s Homicide Rise Holds Steady Since Launch of Fed Crackdown

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NEW FROM THE TRACE

Portland, Oregon’s high-stakes experiment to shrink the role of police in fighting gun violence. Amid protests after police killing of George Floyd, the City Council — led by its lone Black member — disbanded a controversial gun violence task force as a part of a broader series of policing reforms. But two months later, as gun violence has surged, demands for reform that reached a fever pitch earlier this summer have met new opposition. While protesters say police cuts are not deep enough, some advocates say the changes leave gun violence victims vulnerable. Royal Harris, a community activist and former gang member, worries what might come next next. “We tear shit up without a plan,” he told Trace contributor Casey Parks. “That’s radical to white people in Portland. But Black and Brown men will disproportionately suffer.”

Former NRA exec: Wayne LaPierre sees himself as the “Jesus Christ of the Second Amendment.” That’s one of the many anecdotes in the new tell-all book by Joshua Powell, a former chief of staff to LaPierre. The book is a thorough indictment of the National Rifle Association and its leader, who is likened to a con man. “Wayne abandoned the advocacy of the Second Amendment years ago and became exactly what he himself had once railed against in countless speeches and commercials — the elite, the Establishment, lost in a made-up dystopian world that he had created and sold to our members,” Powell writes. Will Van Sant has more. Meanwhile, the NRA’s 2020 letter grades are out. Every election, the group grades hundreds of candidates running for federal office. A lone Democratic House candidate and zero Democratic Senate candidates received “A” grades from the NRA this year, while 92 percent flunked. As Daniel Nass reports, that’s a dramatic shift from 2010, when more than a quarter of Democrats received top marks.

WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Doctors are often seen as trusted messengers on gun safety. $3.6M in federal dollars aims to ensure their voices are heard. Announced during National Suicide Prevention Week, the funding comes from the National Institute of Mental Health and will be used to study how to better implement an existing program that has pediatric primary care doctors counsel young patients on safe storage and provide parents with free gun locks. “We know that safe gun storage will result in saved lives of young people, and there’s an underused resource which can help provide information on firearm safety — pediatric primary care doctors,” said principal investigator Rinad Beidas, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania.

Eyeing armed protests, two Virginia cities enact gun bans in public areas. Charlottesville on Wednesday banned guns on city property and at permitted events, following a similar move by Richmond earlier in the week. Both cities are intimately familiar with armed protests: Charlottesville was home to the “United the Right” rally in 2017 that drew far-right marchers, while the capital hosted a January gun-rights rally that included many armed groups and saw militia members march on its streets last month.

DATA POINT

52 percent — the current year-to-date rise in homicides and shootings in Chicago. The increase has held steady since late July, when the Department of Justice launched its crime-fighting Operation Legend that Attorney General William Barr hailed as having dramatically curbed violence in the city. [WTTW]