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Law enforcement advocates look to turn the gun violence spike into a case for more policing
But gun crime isn’t a new problem though. And it’s not enough to simply put more cops on the beat or mandate prosecutors to dole out tougher sentences.
The gun violence that terrorized New York City last Tuesday continued through the weekend as two shootings in South Carolina and another in Pittsburgh left two minors dead and another 31 people wounded.
We’ve seen 139 mass shootings in 108 days of 2022, according to the Gun Violence Archive. In the same time span, nearly 116 people have died from gun violence caused by homicide, murder and suicide. And in a January 2022 study, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated firearm homicides and suicide an urgent public health concern in response to the end of a sustained downward trend in the two causes of death.
“There are many rivers that feed the sea of violence,” Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams said on Sunday during an interview on ABC’s This Week. “This is a national issue. It’s not red state, blue state. Big cities are hurting all across America.”
More Americans died of gun-related injuries in 2020 than in any other year on record, according to CDC data — representing a 14 percent increase from the year before, a 25 percent increase from five years earlier and a 43 percent increase from a decade prior. (It’s important to note that the data don’t take into account the nation’s growing population, which put gun deaths well below the peak in 1974, according to the Pew Research Center.
With the limited set of tools in President Joe Biden’s toolbox, his administration has authorized a series of actions to reduce the gun violence — and signal to wary voters and lawmakers that his administration takes the issue seriously ahead of the November midterms.
Since he took office, Biden has announced three packages of executive actions — including a comprehensive gun crime reduction strategy and steps to promote safe storage of firearms — that mobilize the Departments of Justice, Veterans Affairs, Defense, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Labor, Homeland Security, Education and Housing and Urban Development towards the shared goal.
And last week, he announced new actions on ghost guns, including a regulatory update that closes a loophole that exempted up to 90 percent of firearms in the US based on a broad interpretation of an older directive. (Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said he will introduce a resolution with three other GOP Senate colleagues to prohibit the Justice Department from implementing the new rule, which would expand the definition of a firearm.)
Meanwhile, Mayor Adams took the opportunity on This Week to knock the congressional Republicans and Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona for blocking the Build Back Better bill from advancing after it passed the House late last year.
“Money was in that bill for police officers. We have 2,400 [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] agents in our country. Only 80 are in New York,” he said. “We need to double that amount.” (President Biden proposed $5 billion in Build Back Better for gun-violence-prevention investments.)
Public opinion on the role police should play in gun violence prevention has reversed in favor of law enforcement after a shift towards the advocacy of community-intervention strategies favored by the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
This has given the pro-policing crowd an opportunity to blame progressive ideas for the rise in crime, as former New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, did last week in an interview with Bloomberg.
“Well intended, some needed, but a bit too far,” Bratton said of the reforms. “And what we have as a result is this growing fear of crime, this growing actual amount of crime, as evidenced in almost every major American city.”
Unsurprisingly, Adams and his Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell agree with Bratton’s assessment.
“We cannot lose sight of the victims of crime,” Sewell said during the ABC interview with Adams. “We believe the system has to be fair and balanced. But when we lose sight of the victims of crime, we are not doing what public safety is intended to do.”
For what it’s worth though, the suspect in the Brooklyn subway shooting called to turn himself in during a 30-hour manhunt in a city with the country’s largest police footprint. And police budgets across the increased in 2021 as with violent crime, raising into question if simply pouring more money into law enforcement is the solution.
Not to mention, homicides involving guns are a persistent problem among Black men and minority youths, according to the CDC study I referenced earlier. And it’s not just due to institutional distrust: Economic hardship and the stress of living in poor communities, systemic racism or multigenerational poverty resulting from limited educational opportunities and upward mobility are well-documented reasons people choose violence.
“We have to be preventive. Many of these generational social problems have become the pipeline to violence,” Adams said. “And the only thing that is beating that pipeline is the pipeline of guns that are coming into our inner cities.”
These aren’t new problems though. And it’s not enough to simply put more cops on the beat or mandate prosecutors to dole out tougher sentences.
That’s why researchers will tell you that strategies for success include policies that provide generous unemployment benefits or housing supports to prevent evictions and making sure that insurance covers mental health care at the same rate as physical health care. They’ll tell you we should be teaching our kids coping and problem-solving skills early on so they learn how to handle conflicts and rebuff negative influences.
But campaign operatives will tell you that these solutions make for unsexy politics in an election season that will ultimately flatten all the nuance out of these intersected issues into viral soundbites by brand-savvy politicians.
These remedies would also require us to perhaps expand our definitions of the victims that Commissioner Sewell says we have to center to include those who were overlooked until they pulled the trigger.
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TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff this morning will participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll. (This year’s event theme is “EGGucation.”) The president this afternoon will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
Biden’s week ahead:
Tuesday: The president will travel to New Hampshire to visit the state’s Port Authority and speak about the bipartisan infrastructure law’s investments in ports and waterways.
Wednesday: Biden will meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combatant Commanders. He and the first lady will also host a dinner for the leaders and their spouses.
Thursday: The president will travel to Portland to visit an infrastructure improvement project and speak on the infrastructure law.
Friday: Biden will travel to Seattle to speak on how his agenda is lowering costs and addressing the climate crisis.
Vice President Harris and Second Gentleman Emhoff this afternoon will travel to Vandenberg Space Force Base in California where Harris will be briefed on the work of the US Space Force and US Space Command to advance America’s national security. Harris will also meet with a group of service members and their families and speak about the US’s work to establish norms for space. Then Harris and Emhoff will travel to Los Angeles where Harris will speak at a Democratic National Committee Fundraiser.
The House is out.
The Senate is out.
IN THE KNOW
— Russia warned the Biden administration to stop supplying weapons to Ukrainian forces or face “unpredictable consequences. American officials interpret the warning as evidence that the US’s security support is seriously hindering Russia’s combat capabilities. (David E. Sanger, Helene Cooper and Anton Troianovski / NYT)
— The bodies of more than 900 civilians have been discovered in the region surrounding the Ukrainian capital following Russia’s withdrawal. Most of them were fatally shot and abandoned in the streets or given temporary burials. (Adam Schreck, Robert Burns and Yesica Fisch / AP News)
— The president and first lady paid $150,439 in federal income tax on a reported $610,702 at a tax rate of 24.6 percent. They also donated $17,394 to 10 different charities, with the largest contribution to the Beau Biden Foundation, an organization named after their late son.
— Related: The vice president and second gentleman paid $523,371 in federal taxes on $1,655,563 at a rate of 31.6 percent. They contributed $22,100 to charity in 2021.
— The Department of Health and Human Services announced the availability of $226.5 million to launch a community health training program. The program will increase the number of workers trained to connect people to COVID care, mental health and substance use disorder prevention resources, chronic disease care and other health services.
— Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington and Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and 50 of their colleagues introduced a bill that would extend school and summer meal flexibilities to feed children. The bill will also help schools transition back to normal meal operations under the National School Lunch Program, an authority the United States Department of Agriculture requested to be extended in the comprehensive government funding bill Congress passed earlier this year.
— Inbox: Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana and Republican Sens. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and James Lankford of Oklahoma sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget to review a proposed rule that would lower the costs of prescription drugs for seniors. The rule follows a letter from the senators to either work with Congress to eliminate the fees for out-of-pocket costs or take administrative action to address the problem.
— The five tipsters who helped the NYPD find the Brooklyn subway shooting suspect will split the $50,000 Crime Stoppers reward. The names of the individuals, who will receive $10,000 each, were not released by the NYPD. (David Cruz and Jake Offenhartz / Gothamist)
— Many people over 50 who want to “age in place” instead of moving to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities haven’t planned or prepared to modify their homes or plan for services they may need. 47 percent have given it little or no thought and 48 percent of those who live alone said they don’t have someone in their lives who could help them with personal care if needed. (University of Michigan)
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Sarah Jones on the death of the “woke” corporation:
When Senator Josh Hawley attacks “woke capitalism,” he isn’t thinking of workers but rather himself and his cronies. He doesn’t oppose corporate hypocrisy; he opposes worker power. The authoritarian bent of the GOP complements, rather than checks, the dictatorship of the corporation.
Union drives aren’t often portrayed in this way: as pro-democracy movements within an authoritarian setting. But when they’re viewed as such, the revolutionary qualities of entities like the Amazon Labor Union become clear, and their true importance — not just to workers’ rights but to democracy itself — becomes easier to understand. Underneath the progressive branding, Amazon has always been a typical American corporation swollen to mammoth proportions.
While Amazon expressed solidarity with the oppressed in public, in private it broke workers down until they revolted.
Annie Gowen on public libraries, the new frontier of the culture wars:
With these actions, Llano joins a growing number of communities across America where conservatives have mounted challenges to books and other content related to race, sex, gender and other subjects they deem inappropriate. A movement that started in schools has rapidly expanded to public libraries, accounting for 37 percent of book challenges last year, according to the American Library Association. Conservative activists in several states, including Texas, Montana and Louisiana have joined forces with like-minded officials to dissolve libraries’ governing bodies, rewrite or delete censorship protections, and remove books outside of official challenge procedures.
The most obvious reason Republican politicians are serving up culture-war fare is that their party base is dominated by conservative Christians who are more concerned about the supposed deterioration of traditional values than just about any other political topic. Indeed, there is some evidence that such voters are in a counterrevolutionary state of mind, anxious to use a Republican resurgence to roll back recent progressive gains on a wide range of issues, and free of any inhibitions about displaying their religious motivations.
These are not people willing to accept LGBTQ+ rights and same-sex marriage as just part of the contemporary landscape. Emboldened by a right-wing trend in judicial circles that may end or sharply curtail abortion rights in a matter of weeks, and finding new allies among parents and wage earners infuriated by COVID-19 restrictions, key elements of the GOP base are not inclined to hide their light under a bushel at present, even if conventional political thinkers in their party wish they’d keep a lower profile. And because of the importance of turnout in non-presidential elections, Republicans by and large don’t want to do anything to dampen base enthusiasm, even if it flows from theocratic yearnings that will be difficult to satisfy down the road.
Andrew Prokop on how Democrats learned to stop worrying and love the gerrymander:
Democrats have spent the past decade deriding gerrymandering as unethical and immoral, and trying to get it banned across the country.
Yet the plain reality is that, if they had decided not to do any of it, Republicans would not only have retained their existing advantage in the House map, they would have expanded it.
Republicans believe Democrats’ appeals to ethics were always situational. They point out that Democrats only began to complain about gerrymandering so loudly once Republicans got the chance to do so much of it in 2010, and that Democratic state parties have often been eager to gerrymander when they’ve had the power to do so.
Still, all this does get at the difficulty of making reforms stick without a national solution. There’s a prisoner’s dilemma aspect to gerrymandering, in which agreeing not to get your hands dirty may well just mean agreeing to lose.
The truth is, when we are faced with something as popular and pious as Barney, perhaps it’s only natural to respond with cynicism—to look for darkness in the light and find something sinister about the supposed purity. When Barney & Friends quietly stopped making new episodes in 2009, the lack of official announcement created another void that the internet again rushed to fill with suspicion and pessimism. Surely the “dark truth” behind the cancellation, some theorized, lay in the show’s many controversial lawsuits, or the shadow cast by Joyner’s unsavory personal life, or the cumulative years of “public scorn.” But really, those are adult hang-ups. As Barney’s creators had always argued, none of that stuff matters to preschoolers. The end of Barney surely had less to do with negativity than with competition from Netflix, as well as the inexorable passage of time.
Today, of course, Barney’s kids are the adults. Most of them long ago grew out of their Barney phase; some of them may have even moved straight into hating him. But now a lot of them have kids of their own. And thirty years after Barney & Friends premiered, any lingering Barney hate is about to be mitigated by another factor: nostalgia. Peacock is readying a three-part Barney documentary that’s set to air later this year. Get Out star Daniel Kaluuya, an unabashed Barney fan, says he’s working on a new live-action Barney movie, arguing that the character has been “left misunderstood” and that we need Barney’s love and optimism today more than ever. While a promised TV reboot has yet to materialize, it seems only a matter of time before Barney is fully revived—and, quite possibly, redeemed.
Jamie Waters on how men’s hair dye went from taboo to trendy:
These adventurous gents treat their hair like an accessory, switching colors—aqua! chartreuse! beet red!—as easily as some guys change sneakers. Other men pursue a more low-key dye agenda, opting for approachable, natural-looking shades that diminish—or enhance—their grays.
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