The link between gun violence and community disability


What you need to know today

NEW from THE TRACE: What you need to know about congressional negotiations on gun reform. Yesterday we wrote about some of the key points of the framework agreement that a bipartisan group of senators reached on Sunday. Chip Brownlee, The Trace’s federal correspondent, goes further, writing dispatches about the talks, adding context and fact-checking lawmakers’ claims about the policies to be discussed. One thing to note about investments in mental health services: The agreement would fund an expansion of community behavioral health centers, suicide prevention and mental health programs, and school-based mental health services. In particular, community-based violence intervention programs would also be eligible for funding, a congressional aide familiar with the negotiations told Chip. You can read the full article here, which contains a much more detailed breakdown of the current trading settings, and will be updated throughout the week.

Neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence have much higher rates of functional disability. That’s one of the key findings of a new study led by Rutgers sociologist Daniel Semenza, which compared shooting and functional disability rates at the census tract level from 2014 to 2018. Focusing across New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati, the study found that functional disabilities were significantly more prevalent in neighborhoods with high rates of gun violence than in those with low rates. The researchers also found that non-fatal shootings correlated with higher rates of community disability in young men, but not in older men. Takeaway key: “Our findings highlight a critical need to reduce gun violence in order to potentially reduce the prevalence of functional disability among young men living in disadvantaged communities,” the authors write. They argue that solving the problem requires strategies such as street outreach or hospital-based intervention against violence, but acknowledge that community-based interventions require more rigorous evaluation and funding.

Ohio Governor signs bill making it easier for school personnel to carry guns. The bill allows school districts that wish to participate to allow armed non-law enforcement personnel into schools. The bill lowers the training threshold for an armed school staff member to no more than 24 hours, from more than 700 hours of training for teachers currently.

Homicides have also increased in rural America during the pandemic. CDC data shows homicides are up 25% nationally in rural areas, almost as much as in urban areas. The Wall Street Journal examines how prosecutors and sheriffs in small towns are struggling to keep pace and how the outbreak has hit rural communities hard. Although the reasons are complex, many experts point to the common thread of a pandemic that has disrupted and disconnected communities, much like it has in urban America. “There are parts of our county that don’t even have internet service,” said Tammy Erwin, a victims’ attorney at a rural sheriff’s office in South Carolina. “So it’s not like everyone can just jump on Zoom.”

Meanwhile, some perspective on New York’s surge during the pandemic. Bloomberg Opinion columnist Justin Fox breaks down the violent crime numbers in America’s largest city. Homicides in New York have skyrocketed during the pandemic — by 47% in 2020 and around 4% last year. But the city’s homicide rate is still the lowest among America’s largest cities — Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Phoenix — and significantly lower than medium-sized and small metropolitan and rural areas.

Data point

28 — the number of states that allow non-security personnel to carry weapons on school property, while nine states explicitly refer to arming school employees. [National Conference of State Legislatures]


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