Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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test [Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post]

Daily Bulletin: The Shooting Victims Who Don’t Get Headlines

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

More than 50 percent of shooting victims in a handful of cities don’t receive news coverage. That’s according to a study that looked at the disparity between city statistics of shootings and media reports of gun violence incidents compiled by Gun Violence Archive. Researchers examined coverage of shootings in three cities — Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Rochester, New York — in 2017. “A large proportion of shootings never make the news, which may limit public understanding of the true burden of firearm injury in the United States,” the authors write. “Lack of awareness in turn may hinder support for and implementation of evidence-based approaches to reducing firearm injury.” Among characteristics that led to media coverage were fatalities, days in which a city saw an elevated number of shootings, and when women or children were victims. (H/T to Jim MacMillan, head of the Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting and a one of the contributing researchers, for sharing this with us.)

The Second Amendment comes up at Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing. During the Senate Judiciary Committee’s opening session, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told Barrett that her appointment to the high court could lead to a sea change in how Second Amendment cases are adjudicated: “If your views on the Second Amendment are adopted by the Supreme Court, it would imperil common-sense state [gun] laws, like Connecticut’s, all around the country.” Experts agree: Blumenthal’s comment — though rooted in his support for reform — squares with the opinions of several legal scholars, who told The Trace that Barrett is likely to push a “history and tradition” standard for gun cases that could jeopardize existing gun laws.

Some Virginia counties fiercely opposed the state’s ‘red flag’ law. Now they’re using it. Despite vociferous local opposition to new gun laws passed this year, police and courts in some of Virginia’s most conservative locales account for nearly half of all red flag orders, according to data obtained by The Virginia Mercury. The law, which went into effect in July, allows law enforcement officials to petition to remove guns from people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. So far, at least 22 such orders have been filed in the state. In Virginia Beach, declared a “Second Amendment Constitutional City” by local leaders, courts have issued just as many red flag orders as the state’s most populous county, Fairfax, according to the Mercury and court data obtained by The Trace. Scott County, where county supervisors approved two separate Second Amendment sanctuary resolutions opposing gun laws, has also used the law. “I think what it really shows is that the public is aware of these types of things and wants to make sure that people aren’t harming or killing themselves or others,” Virginia State Senator George Barker, the Democratic sponsor of the red flag law, told The Trace. Meanwhile in Florida: More than 4,900 gun violence restraining orders have been ordered in the Sunshine State since 2018. The two counties that have used the law most frequently, Highlands and Polk, voted heavily Republican in 2016, according to court data obtained by The Trace. — Chip Brownlee, investigative fellow.

ICYMI: The 2020 crime uptick has disproportionately hit majority-Black areas. As we have frequently highlighted in this newsletter, violent crime across the country spiked this year even as it remains near historic lows. Looking at 27 cities, The Washington Post analyzed crime rates during and after stay-at-home orders. The broad takeaway: Violent crime rates in majority-white neighborhoods declined by some 30 percent during initial lockdown orders before rising this summer. However, the elevated rates remained below 2018 and 2019 levels of violent crime. By contrast, majority-Black neighborhoods saw violent crime rates stay steady during stay-at-home orders before rising significantly during the summer to the highest level in three years.

Critics blast sheriff who downplayed plot against Michigan governor. In an interview that went viral late last week, Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf suggested the men arrested for planning to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer may have merely been attempting to “arrest” her. At a May anti-Whitmer rally, Leaf also appeared on stage alongside one of the alleged conspirators. “I don’t know how anybody with any time in law enforcement who could try to justify the plot these men are accused of,” the executive director of the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association told The Detroit Free Press. Some state officials have called for Leaf’s resignation.

DATA POINT

About 150 — how many of the 24,000 emergency calls fielded by mental health workers in Eugene, Oregon, that required police backup last year. [The Trace]