Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

Placeholder Image

Portland police take control of the streets after making arrests over the weekend. [AP Photo/Paula Bronstein]

Daily Bulletin: ‘The Early Signs of a Troubled Democracy’

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

WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

Portland shooting adds to concerns about armed confrontations at protests. The Oregon city was the scene of violent skirmishes on Saturday as a pro-Trump truck caravan rolled through it. New York Times reporter Mike Baker posted a video showing Trump supporters firing paintball guns and pepper spray (including at Baker) as protesters threw back bottles and other objects. The Facebook group for the rolling Trump rally included a post encouraging participants to carry concealed guns, reported Oregon Public Broadcasting. Around 9 p.m. on Saturday evening, gunfire erupted among a small group gathered downtown, leaving one man dead. The victim was later confirmed to be a member of Patriot Prayer, a far-right group. Police were still investigating the circumstances that led to the shooting.

  • Gas on the fire: Following the shooting, President Trump sent a barrage of tweets that heaped praise on his supporters in Portland, blasted local Democratic leaders, and suggested that federal forces should be sent in.
  • The big picture: From The Washington Post: “One of the early signs of a troubled democracy is when people decide that they’re no longer going to address their political differences at the ballot box… but they’re going to do it on the street, and they’re going to do it with guns,” a district attorney from a New Mexico city where clashes between right-wing militias and racial justice protestors escalated into a shooting told the paper.

Trump blames Democrats for this year’s violence. Data shows the surge defies partisan lines. Criminologist Jeff Asher looked at the year-to-date change in homicides in the biggest cities with Republican mayors. He found that murder is up by 26 percent in those places — the same rise he found in big cities overall. “Changes in murder trends don’t care about the city executive’s party affiliation,” he writes. Flashback: In 2016, candidate Trump also pinned that year’s jump in homicides on Democrats. We looked at the data, and found his claims were false then, too.

NEW from THE TRACE: We’re tracking the NRA’s election expenditures in real time. In 2016, the National Rifle Association spent more than $50 million to elect Donald Trump and Republican Senate candidates, making it a top outside spender on that year’s races. Since then, the group has been buffeted by outside investigations, cratering membership revenue, and annual deficits. But the NRA has still pledged a big outlay this time around and has already spent $6.8 million to reelect Trump. To keep tabs on the financial role the NRA plays in the 2020 campaign, bookmark my colleague Daniel Nass’s new tool.

Does owning a gun make people happier? Not according to the available evidence. To test the gun culture belief that firearms provide greater personal well-being, a team of researchers combed national survey data. They found that firearm ownership was unrelated to quality of life across a range of demographic groups. “There is no evidence to suggest that firearms are related to overall life satisfaction,” Benjamin Dowd-Arrow, one of the authors, told me. “This growing literature calls into question what personal benefits firearms provide their owners health and well-being.” Research already indicates that owning a gun does not make a person safer. We synthesized those studies here.

ICYMI: A promising violence prevention program in Chicago faces a $5 million funding hole. READI offers paid transitional employment, training, and cognitive behavioral therapy to men at highest risk of being victims and perpetrators of the city’s gun violence. As activists and some officials look for new approaches to public safety, a preliminary evaluation of the program shows promising results. But private funders never intended to float the program forever, and READI’s leader says its model is in jeopardy if city officials don’t step up. Lakeidra Chavis broke the news on Friday.

DATA POINT

Far-right vigilantes have shot at protesters nine times since nationwide demonstrations began after the killing of George Floyd on May 25, according to a data from Alexander Reid Ross, a doctoral fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right. The shootings injured six people, three of them fatally. [HuffPost]