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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 260 people were fatally shot from Friday to Sunday, according to Gun Violence Archive, and 700 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