Putting the focus on victims’ support
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AUGUST 9, 2021
Good morning, Bulletin readers. The slow exodus continues at the NRA. A survivors’ rights group pushes lawmakers to include victims’ support in community-focused violence reduction plans. And an alleged would-be attacker voluntarily averts a crisis in Oregon. — Ko Bragg, Bulletin writer
WHAT TO KNOW TODAY

More board members quit the NRA. Citing governance failures and a lack of transparency from executive leadership, two of the group's 76 board members resigned on August 6. Owen “Buz” Mills, who was among a group of directors seeking an independent investigation of alleged executive malfeasance during the NRA's recent failed bankruptcy, cited issues with liability insurance as a catalyst for his departure. In early July, The Reload reported that the NRA was setting aside $5 million to cover the cost of potential lawsuits after Lloyd's of London decided not to extend the group's insurance coverage. "In June, I asked our leadership if we had been noticed that our directors and officers insurance would not be renewed, I got no answer," Mills wrote in his resignation statement. "Why so much trouble with candor?" Board member Susan Howard said in her resignation notice that she had "a sickness of heart at what I have discovered regarding the lack of leadership in our leaders — they have failed not only the board but the entire membership of millions of faithful contributors." The two appeared on the NRA in Danger blog, an anonymous site that describes itself as being run by concerned NRA members. On July 30, The Trace reported that longtime board member Ted Nugent, a rock guitarist, was stepping down "due to ongoing schedule conflicts." — Will Van Sant, staff writer

A push to treat trauma alongside violence reduction efforts. In “Safety, Resiliency and Hope,” a new policy brief, criminal justice reform group Alliance for Safety and Justice is asking federal, state, and local governments to ensure that the growing movement to fund community-focused violence prevention efforts also includes resources to help people recover from the trauma of past violence. Their recommendations include:
Prioritizing community-based victim services organizations and including their leaders in discussions about local violence reduction
Targeting resources for trauma recovery and community-based victim services in areas most affected by violence, including using federal funding to expand Trauma Recovery Centers, which assist crime victims with an array of services
Expanding state victim compensation programs to include all victims of violence, including those who might currently be denied because of previous criminal records
Directly providing victims with job, housing, and cash assistance so they can escape the cycle of trauma and victimization that often leads to more violence
“Most policy discussions tend to focus almost solely on the act of violence itself — how we should prevent or intervene to stop it or what’s the most effective immediate response to it,” John Maki, the alliance’s innovations director, told The Trace. “What’s often missing is what victims need to recover from the traumatic experience of violence.” He added, “America needs a new vision for safety, one that combines violence reduction and trauma recovery.” — Tom Kutsch, newsletter editor

Philadelphia’s “crisis of neglecting gun violence survivors.” Daniel Semenza, an assistant professor of criminology and sociology at Rutgers University-Camden, writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer that focusing just on record-high homicides in Philadelphia obscures the experiences of the majority of shooting victims, who usually survive. This year, about 80 percent of Philly’s 1,356 shootings were nonfatal as of August 5. And Black people make up 85 percent of all shooting victims in the city. “Relentless shootings in certain neighborhoods mean that surges in violence effectively produce isolated communities of survivors, comprised of direct shooting victims and the countless others indirectly exposed to everyday violence, like those who witness a shooting or lose a loved one,” Semenza writes. Related from The Trace: Read Lakeidra Chavis’ “Aftershocks” series about the roadblocks facing gun violence survivors in Chicago.

Oregon high school custodian arrested for allegedly planning “mass casualty event.” Police found the 24-year-old man’s cache of guns, ammo, and handwritten notes at three locations in Medford, Oregon, after he walked into a police station and confessed to having homicidal thoughts and said he had made preparations for an attack. Officials say the man obtained multiple rifles in the two years since courts banned him from owning firearms. He faces attempted murder, attempted assault, and unlawful weapons possession charges. “In this particular case, we believe that he’d taken some pretty significant steps to carry out his plan,” the Medford poIice lieutenant said. “Had he not come forward, who knows what could have happened?”

A Black man and his son were touring a house with their realtor. Police surrounded them with guns drawn. Neighbors in a Grand Rapids suburb called police when a Black realtor showed a house to Roy Thorne, a Black Army veteran, and his 15-year-old son, alleging that a suspect in a recent break-in had returned. About a half-dozen responding officers surrounded the property with their firearms drawn before putting everyone in handcuffs for about 10 minutes. Police apologized at the scene. Thorne told The Washington Post he felt “defeated,” especially because his son was involved: “I don’t get how we were treated as a threat when we’re clearly not one. If we were white, that wouldn’t happen.”
DATA POINT

Two-thirds — the share of California gun owners who live with children who do not store all firearms unloaded and locked up, according to a study by the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis Health. [JAMA Network]
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