Rounds

News and notes on guns in America

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A street outreach worker in Brooklyn, New York. [AP/Seth Wenig]

Daily Bulletin: Why Is Violence Spiking? Maybe Because the Interrupters Have Been Disrupted.

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WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

A theory for this year’s rise in violent crime: The pandemic disrupted some of the most promising community-led models. As numerous data analyses have shown, homicide and shootings are up sharply in 2020, even as most other types of crime are down. Some city officials have linked the spike to changes in the criminal justice system or policing, including prisoner releases to avoid virus outbreaks in detention facilities or law enforcement slowdowns amid protests. An article in The New York Times considers a different explanation, focusing on proven and promising community models for reducing violence that have faced setbacks this year — either because of budget cuts or social distancing requirements that have derailed work that’s most effective when it involves “a pat on the shoulder, a touch on the hand.”

  • Summer or transitional jobs programs were canceled or curtailed
  • Hospital-based intervention programs were barred from bedside because of restrictions on patient visitors
  • Mentorship for students has also gone virtual with the closure of classrooms

Anti-violence leaders lauded the analysis’ emphasis on interventions that don’t rely on arrest and incarceration.

  • “I believe it speaks to the moment we find ourselves in and society’s (or at least The New York Times’s acknowledgement that community-driven and proven non-law enforcement approaches to successful violence interruption are critically important and that solely relying on law enforcement to create the safety we all deserve may in fact be costing us true safety,” DeVone Boggan, the head of the violence interruption group Advance Peace, told us.
  • Said Pastor Michael McBride, director of the LIVE FREE campaign: “I think this is a testament to the power of so many of us who have been working for decades at the intersections of both organizing and front-line intervention. In the past decade, I’ve seen the shift in the conversation move beyond policing to public health and community-led solutions.”

Changing the narrative about violence by focusing on the policies that sustain inequality. “The only way we’re going to be able to make communities whole is by massively reinvesting in the kinds of programs that give people hope and dignity, and real material opportunities for upward mobility,” says sociologist Forrest Stuart, who was just named the recipient of a MacArthur “genius grant.” We’ve highlighted Stuart’s work in this space before — including research quantifying the news coverage gaps for homicide victims in Black neighborhoods and interrupting cycles of community violence with the use of social media. His book, Ballad of the Bullet, explored poverty, violence, and the pursuit of opportunity through an ethnographic study of Chicago’s drill rap scene.

Amnesty International: Governors should ban guns at the polls. Just 11 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have such explicit restrictions. While others have laws that regulate firearms in the government buildings and schools that often serve as polling places, the advocacy group says states need to do more to protect voters and poll workers. What are the laws on voter intimidation? Georgetown University Law Center’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection provided an overview.

Senate Republicans blocked a domestic terrorism bill citing Department of Justice objections. The legislation, which would bolster federal efforts to fight far-right and white supremacist extremism, passed the House unanimously. Senate Democrats tried to advance the measure through unanimous consent, but Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a major Trump ally, objected by saying it would impede the DOJ’s “ability to work in the domestic terrorism space.” A DOJ spokesperson told HuffPost: “We have technical concerns with the legislation and are reviewing it closely.” Neither Johnson’s office nor the DOJ elaborated on those concerns.

New charges for the St. Louis couple who pointed guns at protesters. A grand jury indicted Patricia and Mark McCloskey on felony counts of unlawful use of a weapon and tampering with evidence. The St. Louis city prosecutor had already charged the couple with unlawful use of a weapon when they brandished guns at Black Lives Matter demonstrators passing their palatial home in June. The couple’s attorney told The Trace the count of tampering with evidence likely stems from the handgun Patricia wielded, which she has said was a prop from a lawsuit against a gun manufacturer and inoperable during the incident. Republican Governor Mike Parson has previously said he would pardon the McCloskeys if they are convicted.

📺Watch📺: Trace’s Alain Stephens participated in Voice of San Diego’s Politifest 2020. Check out his discussion with California Attorney General Xavier Becerra about the future of policing and the achievability of law enforcement reforms.

DATA POINT

Texas has roughly twice the imprisonment rate as Washington State, but each saw nearly identical declines in homicides from 1978 to 2016, according to a recent study. “We find that a state’s level of imprisonment has little to do with what happens to its rate of murder over time,” the authors note. [Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation]