Body Armor for Law Enforcement Officers: In Brief (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)
Firearms are one of the leading causes of deaths for law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty. Since FY1999, Congress has provided funding to state and local law enforcement agencies to help them purchase armor vests for their officers. The Matching Grant Program for Law Enforcement Armor Vests (hereinafter, “BPV program”) provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to purchase armor vests for use by law enforcement officers and court officers. The BPV program was first authorized by the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-181). It has been subsequently reauthorized four times. The most recent reauthorization expired in FY2012. Since FY1999, appropriations for the program have generally been between $25 million and $30 million, with the exception of FY2012 and FY2013, when appropriations were less than $23 million.
Congress is considering legislation that would reauthorize the BPV program. S. 933, the Bulletproof Vest Partnership Grant Program Reauthorization Act of 2013, would, among other things, reauthorize appropriations for the program at $15 million for FY2014 and FY2015 and $30 million per fiscal year for FY2016-FY2018.
Armor vests can only save lives when they are actually worn. Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics indicate that an increasing percentage of police departments and sheriffs’ offices have instituted “mandatory wear” policies. Several factors can affect whether a law enforcement officer will wear an armor vest. Safety concerns are the most significant, followed by whether the officer’s department has a mandatory wear policy. Comfort and fit are also a factor.
Indoor Firing Ranges and Elevated Blood Lead Levels — United States, 2002–2013
Source: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (CDC)
Indoor firing ranges are a source of lead exposure and elevated blood lead levels (BLLs) among employees, their families, and customers, despite public health outreach efforts and comprehensive guidelines for controlling occupational lead exposure (1). There are approximately 16,000–18,000 indoor firing ranges in the United States, with tens of thousands of employees. Approximately 1 million law enforcement officers train on indoor ranges (1). To estimate how many adults had elevated BLLs (≥10 µg/dL) as a result of exposure to lead from shooting firearms, data on elevated BLLs from the Adult Blood Lead Epidemiology and Surveillance (ABLES) program managed by CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) were examined by source of lead exposure. During 2002–2012, a total of 2,056 persons employed in the categories “police protection” and “other amusement and recreation industries (including firing ranges)” had elevated BLLs reported to ABLES; an additional 2,673 persons had non–work-related BLLs likely attributable to target shooting. To identify deficiencies at two indoor firing ranges linked to elevated BLLs, the Washington State Division of Occupational Safety and Health (WaDOSH) and NIOSH conducted investigations in 2012 and 2013, respectively. The WaDOSH investigation found a failure to conduct personal exposure and biologic monitoring for lead and also found dry sweeping of lead-containing dust. The NIOSH investigation found serious deficiencies in ventilation, housekeeping, and medical surveillance. Public health officials and clinicians should ask about occupations and hobbies that might involve lead when evaluating findings of elevated BLLs. Interventions for reducing lead exposure in firing ranges include using lead-free bullets, improving ventilation, and using wet mopping or high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) vacuuming to clean (1).
The Second Amendment as Ordinary Constitutional Law
Source: Tennessee Law Review, forthcoming (via SSRN)
In recent years, the Second Amendment has gone from a subject of scholarly and political debate with no real judicial role, to a clearly established individual right that is being enforced in lower courts. This Essay, the foreword to a forthcoming Tennessee Law Review symposium on the Second Amendment, explores how that happened, and what is likely to come next.
Situations involving active shooters in schools have increased in recent years. We define an “active shooter incident” as an occurrence where one or more individuals participate in an ongoing, random, or systematic shooting spree with the objective of multiple or mass murders. Attempts to build a profile of active school shooters have been unsuccessful to date, although there is some evidence to suggest that mental instability, social isolation, a self-perception of catastrophic loss, and access to weapons play a role in the identification of the shooter in a school shooting incident. This article details theories and after-the-fact findings of investigations on previous school shooters, and we offer an application of Levin and Madfis’s Five Stage Sequential Model to Adam Lanza, the perpetrator of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, 2012. Prevention strategies, suggestions for positive school climates, school security for the physical plants, and threat assessments are discussed, and implications for future research are offered.
Reducing Firearm-Related Injuries and Deaths in the United States: Executive Summary of a Policy Position Paper From the American College of Physicians
Firearm violence is not only a criminal justice issue but also a public health threat. A comprehensive, multifaceted approach is necessary to reduce the burden of firearm-related injuries and deaths on individuals, families, communities, and society in general. Strategies to reduce firearm violence will need to address culture, substance use and mental health, firearm safety, and reasonable regulation, consistent with the Second Amendment, to keep firearms out of the hands of persons who intend to use them to harm themselves and others, as well as measures to reduce mass casualties associated with certain types of firearms.
As an organization representing physicians who have first-hand experience with the devastating impact firearm-related injuries and deaths have on the health of their patients, the ACP has a responsibility to participate in efforts to mitigate these needless tragedies. Because patients trust their physicians to advise them on issues that affect their health, physicians can help to educate the public on the risks of firearms and the need for firearm safety through their encounters with their patients. This Executive Summary provides a synopsis of the full position paper, which is available in Appendix 1.
Officer Involved Shootings in Smaller Departments (PDF)
Source: International Association of Chiefs of Police
The old adage, “it can’t happen here” is not a philosophy that we, as police man-agers, should consider as we provide leadership to our organizations. For many smaller law enforcement agencies, the unique nature of policing in our commu-nities often equates to traffic enforcement, an occasional daytime burglary, and the rare cases involving robbery or assault. As executives in smaller agencies, we continuously attempt to balance increasing service demands with shrinking budgets, while preparing our organizations as best we can for those things that ‘can’t happen here!’
Hybrid Targeted Violence: Challenging Conventional “Active Shooter” Response Strategies
Source: Homeland Security Affairs
Hybrid Targeted Violence (HTV) is defined as an intentional use of force to cause physical injury or death to a specifically identified population using multifaceted conventional weapons and tactics. This article introduces the HTV concept to challenge first responders to prepare for violent “hybrid” multi-threat incidents. These incidents may involve conventional weapons, the use of fire as a weapon, chemical weapons, and/or improvised explosives. Attacks of this nature defy conventional thinking about the role of police, fire, and emergency medical professionals. HTV events demand cooperative strategies to efficiently neutralize complex threats that are beyond the capacity of a single first responder discipline. Recent and historical HTV incidents are identified to reinforce the compelling need for a paradigm shift in thinking that goes beyond conventional “active shooter” scenarios that do not advance “Whole Community” interdependent response strategies.
The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization Among Household Members: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
The Accessibility of Firearms and Risk for Suicide and Homicide Victimization Among Household Members: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine
Research suggests that access to firearms in the home increases the risk for violent death.
To understand current estimates of the association between firearm availability and suicide or homicide.
PubMed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Web of Science were searched without limitations and a gray-literature search was performed on 23 August 2013.
All study types that assessed firearm access and outcomes between participants with and without firearm access. There were no restrictions on age, sex, or country.
Two authors independently extracted data into a standardized, prepiloted data extraction form.
Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs were calculated, although published adjusted estimates were preferentially used. Summary effects were estimated using random- and fixed-effects models. Potential methodological reasons for differences in effects through subgroup analyses were explored. Data were pooled from 16 observational studies that assessed the odds of suicide or homicide, yielding pooled ORs of 3.24 (95% CI, 2.41 to 4.40) and 2.00 (CI, 1.56 to 3.02), respectively. When only studies that used interviews to determine firearm accessibility were considered, the pooled OR for suicide was 3.14 (CI, 2.29 to 4.43).
Firearm accessibility was determined by survey interviews in most studies; misclassification of accessibility may have occurred. Heterogeneous populations of varying risks were synthesized to estimate pooled odds of death.
Access to firearms is associated with risk for completed suicide and being the victim of homicide.
Hospitalizations Due to Firearm Injuries in Children and Adolescents
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:
Despite recent national attention on deaths from firearms, little information exists about children and adolescents who are hospitalized for firearm injuries. The objective was to determine the national frequency of firearm-related hospitalizations in the United States in children, compare rates by cause and demographics, and describe hospitalized cases.
We used the 2009 Kids’ Inpatient Database to identify hospitalizations from firearm-related injuries in young people <20 years of age; International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification, and external-cause-of injury codes were used to categorize the injuries and the causes as follows: assault, suicide attempt, unintentional, or undetermined. Incidences were calculated by using the weighted number of cases and the intercensal population. Risk ratios compared incidences.
In 2009, 7391 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 6523–8259) hospitalizations were due to firearm-related injuries. The hospitalization rate was 8.87 (95% CI: 7.83–9.92) per 100 000 persons <20 years of age. Hospitalizations due to assaults were most frequent (n = 4559) and suicide attempts were least frequent (n = 270). Of all hospitalizations, 89.2% occurred in males; the hospitalization rate for males was 15.22 per 100 000 (95% CI: 13.41–17.03) and for females was 1.93 (95% CI: 1.66–2.20). The rate for black males was 44.77 (95% CI: 36.69–52.85), a rate more than 10 times that for white males. Rates were highest for those aged 15 to 19 years (27.94; 95% CI: 24.42–31.46). Deaths in the hospital occurred in 453 (6.1%); of those hospitalized after suicide attempts, 35.1% died.
On average, 20 US children and adolescents were hospitalized each day in 2009 due to firearm injuries. Public health efforts are needed to reduce this common source of childhood injury.
Homicide In The U.S. Known To Law Enforcement, 2011
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics
Presents data on homicide trends from 1992 to 2011. The report describes homicide patterns and trends by age, sex, and race of the victim. It explores weapon use, with a focus on trends in firearm use and homicide trends by city size. It also includes special discussions of missing offender data and firearm use in nonfatal violent victimizations. The data are from the FBI’s Supplementary Homicide Reports, with summary data from Crime in the United States, for homicide data prior to 1980. Data on nonfatal victimizations are from BJS’s National Crime Victimization Survey, 1993 to 1995 and 2008 to 2011.
APA Report on Gun Violence Identifies Precursors and Promising Solutions
Source: American Psychological Association
There is no single personality profile that can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act — but individual prediction is not necessary for violence prevention, according to a comprehensive report on gun violence released today by the American Psychological Association.
The report summarizes the psychological research that has helped develop evidence-based programs that can prevent violence through both primary and secondary interventions. Primary prevention programs can reduce risk factors for violence in the general population. Secondary prevention programs can help individuals who are experiencing emotional difficulties or interpersonal conflicts before they escalate into violence.
“In making predictions about the risk for mass shootings, there is no consistent psychological profile or set of warning signs that can be used reliably to identify such individuals in the general population,” according to the report, entitled Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy. For this reason, primary violence prevention programs are critical. In addition, at the individual level, a promising approach is the strategy of behavioral threat assessment, which involves identifying and intervening with individuals who have communicated threats of violence or engaged in behavior that indicates preparation to commit a violent act.
In addition, the vast majority of people suffering from a mental illness are not violent, and despite decades of research, “there is only a moderate ability to identify individuals most likely to commit serious acts of violence,” the report notes. When a person does resort to violence, that behavior is typically associated with a confluence of “individual, family, school, peer, community and sociocultural factors that interact over time,” and appropriate access to mental health treatment can reduce gun violence, the report says. However, the availability of such mental health care remains “woefully insufficient,” it adds.
Active Shooter in a House of Worship (PDF)
Source: National Disaster Interfaiths Network
Recent shootings at houses of worship and religious schools have led religious leaders to question wha t they can do to protect their congregations. This emerging need poses a challenge to religious leaders who want to provide safety without sacrificing the welcoming atmosphere of their houses of worship. These incidents may occur at any time, during virtually any size gathering or age range of people on the premises; they may be hate crimes, terrorist acts, acts of retribution, or simply random violence. Nevertheless, religious leaders can take steps to reduce the likelihood and the impact of an active shooter in a house of worship, religious school or other religious events, sites or facilities.
Police Shootings of People With a Mental Illness
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
The decision to use a firearm in a police operation is one of the most critical a police officer can make and ‘no other single issue has the potential to destroy the relationship between the police and the community like the use by police of deadly force’ (McCulloch 1991: 160).
All fatal police shootings are subject to internal review, a mandatory coronial inquest and are also monitored by the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) National Deaths in Custody Program (NDICP). The NDICP collects detailed information about the circumstances and nature of such incidents, with the view to informing the ongoing development of policy and procedure.
The AIC has recently released a special monitoring report that commemorates the twentieth anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. This report contains detailed analysis of the 2,325 deaths in custody since 1 January 1980 (which includes 905 deaths in police custody and custody-related operations). This report also examines fatal police shootings that have occurred in Australia since monitoring of these incidents began in 1989–90.
One issue that frequently arises with regard to police shootings is proportionality, or more simply, whether the threat or potential threat posed by the alleged offender was sufficient to warrant police using a firearm. This issue is tested through coronial inquests in which the presiding coroner will make a determination about whether the shooting was justified.
This issue becomes much harder to resolve when the mental capacity of the alleged offender is impaired, such as by drugs and/or alcohol, a mental illness or both, as the ability to understand or appreciate the consequences of potentially life-threatening actions may be undermined.
Gun Violence Trends in Movies (PDF)
Many scientific studies have shown that the mere presence of guns can increase aggression, an effect dubbed the “weapons effect.” The current research examines a potential source of the weapons effect: guns depicted in top-selling films.
Trained coders identified the presence of violence in each 5-minute film segment for one-half of the top 30 films since 1950 and the presence of guns in violent segments since 1985, the first full year the PG-13 rating (age 13+) was used. PG-13–rated films are among the top-selling films and are especially attractive to youth.
Results found that violence in films has more than doubled since 1950, and gun violence in PG-13–rated films has more than tripled since 1985. When the PG-13 rating was introduced, these films contained about as much gun violence as G (general audiences) and PG (parental guidance suggested for young children) films. Since 2009, PG-13–rated films have contained as much or more violence as R-rated films (age 17+) films.
Even if youth do not use guns, these findings suggest that they are exposed to increasing gun violence in top-selling films. By including guns in violent scenes, film producers may be strengthening the weapons effect and providing youth with scripts for using guns. These findings are concerning because many scientific studies have shown that violent films can increase aggression. Violent films are also now easily accessible to youth (eg, on the Internet and cable). This research suggests that the presence of weapons in films might amplify the effects of violent films on aggression.
Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence
Source: Institute of Medicine & National Research Council
In 2010, more than 105,000 people were injured or killed in the United States as the result of a firearm-related incident. Recent, highly publicized, tragic mass shootings in Newtown, CT; Aurora, CO; Oak Creek, WI; and Tucson, AZ, have sharpened the American public’s interest in protecting our children and communities from the harmful effects of firearm violence. While many Americans legally use firearms for a variety of activities, fatal and nonfatal firearm violence poses a serious threat to public safety and welfare.
In January 2013, President Barack Obama issued 23 executive orders directing federal agencies to improve knowledge of the causes of firearm violence, what might help prevent it, and how to minimize its burden on public health. One of these orders directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to, along with other federal agencies, immediately begin identifying the most pressing problems in firearm violence research. The CDC and the CDC Foundation asked the IOM, in collaboration with the National Research Council, to convene a committee tasked with developing a potential research agenda that focuses on the causes of, possible interventions to, and strategies to minimize the burden of firearm-related violence. Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence focuses on the characteristics of firearm violence, risk and protective factors, interventions and strategies, the impact of gun safety technology, and the influence of video games and other media.
New Approaches to Understanding and Regulating Primary and Secondary Illegal Firearms (PDF)
Source: National Criminal Justice Reference Service
This report confirms previous study results showing the usefulness of trace data in policing illicit firearms. The data show that jurisdictions with gun regulations recover fewer illicitly distributed weapons compared to jurisdictions without regulations. The authors suggest that more regulation will reduce the availability and distribution of illicit firearms.
The Hospital Costs of Firearm Assaults
Source: Urban Institute
There is renewed national attention on the consequences of gun violence in the U.S. This study presents new information on the prevalence and cost of emergency department visits and inpatient hospital stays in U.S. hospitals for injuries associated with armed assault. In 2010, young adult men, residents of low income areas, and the uninsured had the highest rates of use. The total hospital cost of such injures is very high, equivalent to the cost of the Medicaid program one state. The prevention of firearm assaults should receive increased attention as a high public health priority.