Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

Placeholder Image

Oath Keepers patrol Emancipation Park during Charlottesville's 2017 "Unite the Right" rally. [Anthony Crider/Flickr]

Daily Bulletin: Facebook Cracks Down on Armed Groups

Receive this daily news briefing by email every morning. Sign up here.

WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

To win the suburbs, Democrats lean into gun control. This week’s Democratic National Convention included a seeming paradox: Its primetime speakers included a parade of Republicans tapped to make it safe for their fellow party members to support former Vice President Joe Biden. But the programming also included numerous gun violence prevention activists and unabashed endorsements of tougher gun laws — a progressive position that riles up the GOP base. The Atlantic’s Elaine Godfrey squares the circle: Embracing gun control now fits neatly into the Biden campaign’s pitch to the moderate voters “who have begun to see the issue as a litmus test.” ICYMI: We rounded up Biden’s positions on a federal assault-weapons ban, gun buybacks, and more hereMeanwhile: The progressive flank of the Democratic Party is bristling over comments Biden made on the convention’s opening night that espoused the “bad apples” theory of police brutality.

A DNC roundtable featured a call to fund community-led prevention. Reggie Moore, director of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention, said his $500,000 annual budget is not enough to tap the potential of street-level violence interrupters who reduce shootings by defusing conflicts and dispensing social services. A senior Biden campaign advisor pledged that the former vice president would allocate a total of $900 million to 40 cities with high homicide rates, and that some of the funding would go toward programs like Milwaukee’s. Biden’s plan borrows from a blueprint for reducing community gun violence developed by Thomas Abt, a Harvard researcher and former federal prosecutor, which we excerpted last summer.

Facebook cracks down on QAnon and armed militias. The social media giant removed or restricted at least 10,000 pages on Facebook and Instagram connected to the right-wing conspiracy theory, plus nearly 1,000 others created by or affiliated with armed anti-government groups like the Oath Keepers and the Three Percenters. The company cited an expansion of its existing ban on content that advocates violence, which now extends to users who “have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them, or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior.” The policy change also resulted in the purging of accounts and pages maintained by left-wing and anarchist groups, which data shows do not have the same history of fatal attacks.

Report: Fatal police shootings are up in seven states this year. The ACLU analyzed The Washington Post’s database of deadly police shootings and found increases in Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Montana, and Nevada, compared to the five-year average. Overall, the group counted 511 fatal police shootings across the U.S. in the first six months of 2020, a 5.5 percent increase from the same period last year. To reduce the use of lethal force by police, the group calls for departments to stop enforcing certain misdemeanors, like traffic offenses, which comprise 80 percent of arrests and led to the police killings of Philando Castile, George Floyd, and Eric Garner, among others.

NYC prosecutor forms special unit for gun possession cases in response to shooting spike. Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez launched the Gun Violence Suppression Bureau a day after NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said the borough is responsible for nearly half of the city’s shooting victims so far this year. The unit will “track patterns of gun violence and identify likely retaliations” and designate a single prosecutor to work with police to build “often-difficult” illegal gun cases from the ground up. According to the NYPD, there have been over 1,000 shooting victims in the city so far this year, an 88 percent jump.

Chicago coaches urge funding for a different violence-reduction playbook: kids’ sports. “We want to partner up with Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the governor and the powers that be to show them that we can be boots on the ground,” said a league organizer. One of the coaches told The Chicago Sun-Times that sports saved his life: “If it wasn’t for sports, I would be out there doing something that I don’t even want to talk about.” Research syncs with their lived experience, showing that structured, supervised activities are associated with lower juvenile violent crime.

DATA POINT

With 111 homicides so far in 2020, Milwaukee joins the list of cities that have already surpassed or approached their total murders last year. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]