* New York Times…
Gun deaths reached the highest number ever recorded in the United States in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, as gun-related homicides surged by 35 percent, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday.
“This is a historic increase, with the rate having reached the highest level in over 25 years,” Dr. Debra E. Houry, acting principal deputy director of the C.D.C. and the director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said at a news briefing.
More than 45,000 Americans died in gun-related incidents as the pandemic spread in the United States, the highest number on record, federal data show. The gun homicide rate was the highest reported since 1994.
That represents the largest one-year increase in gun homicides in modern history, according to Ari Davis, a policy adviser at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions, which recently released its own analysis of C.D.C. data.
* From the CDC…
From 2019 to 2020, the overall firearm homicide rate increased 34.6%, from 4.6 to 6.1 per 100,000 persons. The largest increases occurred among non-Hispanic Black or African American males aged 10–44 years and non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN) males aged 25–44 years. Rates of firearm homicide were lowest and increased least at the lowest poverty level and were higher and showed larger increases at higher poverty levels. […]
The findings of this study underscore the importance of comprehensive strategies that can stop violence now and in the future by addressing factors that contribute to homicide and suicide, including the underlying economic, physical, and social inequities that drive racial and ethnic disparities in multiple health outcomes. For example, policies that enhance economic and household stability (e.g., temporary assistance to families, child care subsidies, tax credits, housing assistance, and livable wages) can reduce family poverty and other risk factors for homicide and suicide (e.g., family stress and substance use) (3,4,12–14). Communities can also implement locally driven approaches that address physical and social environments that contribute to violence and other inequities, with the potential for immediate benefits. Approaches such as enhancing and maintaining green spaces and the remediation of vacant buildings can reduce opportunities for violence and promote positive social interactions. These approaches have been associated with significant reductions in risk for firearm violence (13,15). For example, a study in a major U.S. city found that restoration of vacant lots (e.g., cleaning up debris or adding vegetation) was associated with significant reductions in firearm assaults, with the largest reduction (29%) in areas with the highest poverty
Following Chicago’s deadliest year in decades, the number of people shot and killed in the 15 communities targeted in Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s signature anti-violence plan has fallen by 26% ahead of the historically brutal summer months — a pivotal stretch in what she has described as a “make-or-break year” for lowering crime. […]
Through May 8, the targeted communities on the South and West sides saw a 19% decline in homicides and a 28% drop in non-fatal shooting victims from the same time last year, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis. Across the city, those numbers have fallen 7% and 17% respectively, accounting for a 15% overall drop over the same period. […]
But despite trending in the right direction, the toll is still far higher than in both 2019 and 2020. At least 901 people have been wounded by gun violence through May 8, 173 of them fatally. Seventeen more people have been killed by other means. […]
A more simple explanation for the downtrend, according to Wesley Skogan, a Northwestern University professor who specializes in crime issues: The weather has been unseasonably crummy this year.
The warming weather produced some ominous results this week…
* Meanwhile, here’s Ashna Arora and Jens Ludwig writing in the Tribune…
To figure out what’s going on with [electronic monitoring], we obtained data from the Cook County sheriff’s office, which as best we can tell is responsible for about 60% of all monitoring cases in the county. We haven’t been able to get data on the rest of the county’s EM cases, run by the chief judge’s office. Using the data we have, we focus mostly on what’s happening in Chicago to start to get a better picture of EM. […]
Nonetheless, as best we can tell from the available data, crimes committed by people on EM don’t seem to be driving the current wave of gun violence.
First, the timing doesn’t seem to be quite right. While the EM population rose in 2020, the jail population was largely flat during this period. Taken at face value, this would seem to imply that the increase in EM cases is coming from people who would have otherwise been released on bond, not people who would have gone to jail.
Another way to see that the timing is not right is to look at the likelihood someone arrested in a gun violence case goes to jail. We can’t measure that perfectly, but we can look at the ratio of people jailed on homicide or nonfatal shooting charges to the number of people arrested for those crimes. If EM were driving gun violence, we might have expected a big drop around 2020 in the chances those arrested in shootings wound up in jail, but that doesn’t seem to have happened.
Finally, the total numbers just don’t seem to add up. In 2020, there were 274 more homicide victims in Chicago than in 2019. By comparison, the number of people arrested for a homicide they allegedly committed while out on EM increased from 2019 to 2020 by only four — from four to eight arrests. Even accounting for Chicago’s historically (and notoriously) low rate of making arrests in homicide cases, the so-called clearance rate, it seems very unlikely people on EM are driving our massive rise in gun violence.
Looking at data for nonfatal shootings tells a similar story.
Among pieces of legislation Pritzker signed at the Peoria Civic Center Tuesday, was one crafted by State Representative Jehan Gordon-Booth allowing for mental health responders on police calls related to victims of violent crime. […]
Money for hiring and retaining police officers, funding to help witness protection programs and making it safer for victims to report crimes, and paying for the funerals of children who die due to violent crime were the other initiatives signed into law by Pritzker. […]
[Peoria Police Chief Eric Echevarria] says more than 1,200 police calls last year alone were related to a person who was feeling suicidal, or who had committed suicide, among other statistics on calls.
The bill also requires homicide detectives to undergo “trauma-involved training,” according to the Pritzker administration and created a grant program to create tip hotlines and various victim and witness resources.
The bill also reauthorizes a witness protection program with $30 million set aside for it in the upcoming state budget. The program had been neglected for years by state legislators and past governors who failed to earmark funding for it. […]
He also signed a bill to aid in the recruitment and retention of police officers across the state.
“There are those that would like for us to believe that you have to choose between police or community, and I believe that is a failed notion,” said state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth of Peoria, whose stepson was fatally shot in 2014. “Police are community. The community needs the police, and it is our jobs as leaders to identify the paths to create a better opportunity for community and police to work together better, to work together stronger.”
Adequately funding police departments is the intention of another bill signed by Pritzker on Tuesday. HB 3863, which was approved unanimously by both chambers of the legislature, creates the Law Enforcement Recruitment and Retention Fund. The fund will be used to award grants to local governments, colleges and nonprofit entities “for the purpose of hiring and retraining law enforcement officers,” according to the new law.
* Billionaire Ken Griffin laments Chicago violence, donates $25M to train police leaders: Griffin is contributing $25 million to launch two academies at the University of Chicago that will provide six months of training to police leaders here and across the country and to people who run violence interruption groups. “It is time to bring the data-driven revolution to public safety,” said Griffin, the founder of the Citadel investment company, during a ceremony announcing the two Community Safety Leadership Academies.