There is new data on the nation’s murder spike. And this time it’s good news.
An analysis of the first half of the year shows murder rates may be coming down. The numbers are limited and preliminary, but they are interesting nonetheless. Hopefully, the trend continues. Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman looks at what the political implications will be if it does.
The courts were busy too. A federal judge tossed President Joe Biden’s “ghost gun” ban. He ruled the ATF didn’t have the power to rewrite the definition of what constitutes a firearm to try and get control over unfinished gun parts.
And I reason through the potential outcomes of the Supreme Court’s new Second Amendment case. This one is much more unpredictable than the last.
We also have new details on the active shooter that was thwarted in Las Vegas recently. It turns out the guard who shot the gunman was voluntarily carrying his own personal firearm.
Plus, a rabbi from the New York State Jewish Gun Club joins the podcast to talk about a recent ruling upholding the synagogue gun ban.
Report: Murder Rate Drops in 2023
By Jake Fogleman
America’s multi-year spike in homicides may finally be receding.
At the midway point of 2023, the murder rate is down roughly 11 percent in 100 major U.S. cities. That’s the conclusion of a new report from Jeff Asher, a widely-cited crime analyst and AH Datalytics co-founder. He found the overall murder rate is still about 12 percent above pre-pandemic levels. But the numbers are currently on track to result in approximately 2,500 fewer murders nationally than the post-pandemic peak in 2021.
“The decline in big cities would portend to a 7-10 percent decline nationally in 2023 if that figure holds up,” Asher, a former analyst for the Department of Defense and New Orleans Police Department who has authored pieces on crime statistics for CNN, The New York Times, and The Atlantic, wrote last week. “It would also be among the largest declines in murder ever formally recorded.”
After a multi-year spike following the onset of the COVID pandemic, the U.S. homicide rate looks to be falling. If that continues, it could usher in a reshuffling of the country’s current gun politics.
The murder rate is down roughly 11 percent in 100 major U.S. cities through the first half of the year, according to crime analyst Jeff Asher. Though the overall murder rate is still about 12 percent above pre-pandemic levels, according to the AH Datalytics dashboard, the numbers are on track to land 10 percent lower than last year.
That drop would “be among the largest declines in murder ever formally recorded,” according to Asher.
He found that the U.S. homicide rate declined slightly in 2022 from 2021 levels as well, though not to the same degree as in the first half of 2023. That means that the decline in murder has been more sustained than just a simple six-month window of good fortune. If Asher’s analysis is anything close to accurate, and the reduction in homicide continues to be as substantial as it appears, the American people will eventually take notice.
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Federal Court Tosses Biden ‘Ghost Gun’ Ban
By Stephen Gutowski
The ATF’s attempt to redefine what counts as a firearm has been vacated.
On Friday, Federal District Court Judge Reed O’Connor ruled in favor of the gun companies and gun-rights groups challenging the ban. He found the ATF exceeded its authority when it decided to treat unfinished firearms parts, often used to build homemade guns President Joe Biden called “ghost guns” due to their lack of serial numbers, the same way as completed and functional firearms.
“This case presents the question of whether the federal government may lawfully regulate partially manufactured firearm components, related firearm products, and other tools and materials in keeping with the Gun Control Act of 1968,” Judge O’Connor wrote in Vanderstok v. Garland. “Because the Court concludes that the government cannot regulate those items without violating federal law, the Court holds that the government’s recently enacted Final Rule… is unlawful agency action taken in excess of the ATF’s statutory jurisdiction. On this basis, the Court vacates the Final Rule.”
Study Finds Americans Reluctant to Tell Researchers They Own Guns
By Stephen Gutowski
Some gun owners don’t want researchers to know they own guns.
Those are the findings of a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology by the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center at Rutgers University this month. It found estimates of how many Americans own guns could be off by as much as 45 percent. It also identified several demographics of people who may be most uncomfortable sharing information about their firearms with researchers.
“Bottom line of the study is that some gun owners aren’t comfortable disclosing firearm ownership in surveys. So, from a research perspective, we may not be fully capturing who owns firearms in the US,” Allison Bond, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at the center, told The Reload. “That’s limiting our understanding of firearm ownership and also our ability to reach these individuals and provide them information on things like secure firearm storage methods.”
The Las Vegas shooter who opened fire in an apartment complex last week had his AR-15 malfunction after getting just one round off.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department arrest report accuses 32-year-old Andrew Warrender of pointing his AR-15 at several people and firing at one security officer before his weapon jammed, according to documents obtained by 8 News Now. Another security guard, who was voluntarily carrying his personal firearm, then shot him.
“Warrender walks toward main lobby and quickly points and aims toward (privacy) as he is behind the front desk,” the review of video surveillance states. “(Privacy) ducks behind the front desk and almost simultaneously, Warrender fires a shot.”
This week, we’re examining a new ruling in favor of New York’s ban on carrying a concealed gun in places of worship. It’s a somewhat surprising decision that comes after the state already abandoned the total ban and several other judges have struck it down. So, the whole situation is a bit confusing.
That’s why we have New York State Jewish Gun Club member Rabbi Tzvi Hershel Goldstein on the show. He is directly affected by the new ruling, and his group helped fund the case against it.
Contributing Writer Jake Fogleman and I talk about the breaking news that the Supreme Court has agreed to take a new Second Amendment case. We go over the details of the case and try to read some tea leaves on where the Court may come down.
Plus, Reload Member Michael tells us his difficult but important story of struggling with mental health and addiction while being a gun owner.
You can listen to the show on your favorite podcasting app or by clicking here. Video of the episode is available on our YouTube channel. Reload Members get access on Sunday, as always. The show goes public on Monday.
Supreme Court Agrees to Take Up New Gun Case
By Stephen Gutowski
The nation’s highest court has agreed to hear another Second Amendment case just a year after it handed down a landmark decision that forged a new test for the constitutionality of gun laws.
On Friday, the Supreme Court granted review in United States v. Rahimi. In February, a Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled the prohibition on owning guns while being subject to a domestic violence restraining order is unconstitutional. The Department of Justice (DOJ) appealed that decision, and now the Court will now take up that same question.
The case marks a sustained uptick in the Court’s appetite for Second Amendment cases. While the Court has only considered seven major Second Amendment cases, with one being mooted and another being a unanimous per curiam opinion, three of those seven have come in the last three years. With 2022’s New York State Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen creating a new Second Amendment test the Court will likely have reason to take even more gun cases in the future as circuit splits develop over how to properly apply the new test.
On Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a new Second Amendment case. Despite the justices’ ideological leanings, it’s unclear how they will rule for several reasons.
The Court will take up United States v. Rahimi in its October term. A Fifth Circuit panel ruled back in February that Zachary Rahimi’s conviction for possessing guns while under a domestic violence restraining order violated his Second Amendment rights. The Department of Justice appealed, and the Court accepted.
Usually, one sign of how the Court might rule is that they’re more likely than not to take up a case with a decision they wish to overturn. However, in this case, that’s less of an indicator because the Court is also more likely than not to take up a case where a federal law has been invalidated.
The legal and political implications of the case provide a better guide for how things might go.
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Outside The Reload
That’s it for this week in guns.
I’ll see you all next week.