• Calls for tighter regulations of the design of toy guns

    The death of people – often children – who carry BB or pellet guns resembling real weapons has prompted lawmakers and activists to call for tighter regulations on the design of non-lethal guns. California has already passed such a law, and it would go into effect on Friday.

  • Reducing deadly police force in Rio de Janeiro, and elsewhere

    Researchers seek better strategies to control the lethal use of police force in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Their findings offer insights for police and communities elsewhere, as the researchers are studying how social and psychological factors affect police and how body-worn cameras can be used most efficiently.

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  • Examining how law enforcement leaders feel about body cameras

    The use of force and police behavior continue to be a prominent topic in the media. Several recent high-profile incidents involving police use of deadly force have resulted in increased scrutiny of officer behavior and police-community relations by the media, policy-makers, civil rights groups, and academics, leading to nationwide interest in police-worn body cameras to increase transparency and accountability. While the use of body-worn cameras on police to address these issues has been endorsed by the media, government, social activists, and policy makers alike, there is scant scientific evidence to support or refute the perceived benefits or drawbacks.

  • Studying gun violence is the only way to figure out how to stop it – but we don’t

    There are about 32,000 gun deaths a year in the United States. There are another 180,000 or so people injured by firearms annually in the country. These numbers far outstrip the consequences of firearms among our peer high-income countries, with stricter gun regulations. One factor that has inhibited the discussions in the public space over gun violence is the relatively limited data we have available about firearms and firearm violence. Gun violence is a public health problem, but it is not studied the same way other public health problems are. The reason: In 1996 the NRA pushed Congress to prohibit the use of funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be used to advocate or promote gun control. The CDC broadly interpreted this as a bar on firearms research, with other federal funders following suit. This has had a chilling effect on gun research. Because of the bar on research, our understanding of the real consequences of the firearm epidemic is surface deep. The United States has had enormous success in responding to other challenges to public health, including, for example, motor vehicle safety, through gathering data that understands the challenge and implementing structural changes to mitigate the potential harm. On the issue of firearm violence, we are not even at the first step.

  • FBI unable to break 109 encrypted messages Texas terror attack suspect sent ahead of attack

    FBI director James Comey told lawmakers this week that one of the suspects in the foiled terror attack in Garland, Texas, in May had exchanged 109 messages with sources in a “terrorist location” overseas ahead of the attack. U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, however, have not been able to break into and read those messages because they were exchanged on devices equipped with end-to-end encryption software which, security services in the United States and Europe argue, make it impossible to monitor and track terrorists and criminals.

  • WH finalizing executive order tightening background checks of gun buyers

    Sources say that the White House is about to announce a new executive order to expand background checks of individuals wishing to purchase guns. One proposal being considered would designate more sellers as high-volume dealers, closing a legal loophole which allows many sales conducted online or at gun shows to escape existing background check provisions. Two other developments on the gun front: On Thursday, Connecticut governor Dan Malloy said he would sign an executive order which would bar people on the government’s terrorism watch lists from buying guns in Connecticut; in the House, Democrats demand that a 17-year ban on government-funded research into violence involving firearms be ended.

  • U.K. arrests record number of terrorism suspects, especially women, teenagers

    According to the U.K. Home Office quarterly bulletin, 315 terror suspects – a record — have been arrested in the United Kingdom in the past year, with a sharp increases in arrests of women and teenagers. Therise in the number of terrorism-related suspects arrested is a reflection of the determined effort by the police and security services to address the ISIS threat and stem the flow of Britons to, and from, Syria.

  • Matching bullets to wounds using organ-specific protein signatures found on projectiles

    Forensic medicine has long employed molecular biology to link, for instance, tiny amounts of organic material to a suspect. Yet, such methods are less useful when it comes to finding out which shot or stab wound was the cause of death. They enable a weapon to be linked to the victim, but not the projectile to the wound. Researchers have developed a method which enables them more accurately to reconstruct crimes involving sharp blades or firearms.

  • Paris attacks expose weaknesses in Europe’s security structure

    The 13 November attacks in Paris offered a painful demonstration of Europe’s security loopholes which the terrorists exploited to their advantage. The attacks should serve as a wake-up call to Europeans that the continental security structure, built in another era, is no longer sufficient and needs to be adapted to new circumstances. Whether or not such adaptations can be made, and made in time before the terrorists decide to launch another attack, is an open question.

  • Improving police responses to mass shootings

    Before Columbine, law enforcement acted on the assumption that mass casualty incidents would involve a barricaded lone shooter who could be isolated, or a hostage situation in which the attackers would engage in negotiation before they killed more people. Thus, protocols established after the 1966 sniper attack at the University of Texas, called for first responders in the United States to set up a perimeter around the site of the shooting, gather as much information as possible, and then wait for specially trained assault teams, hostage negotiators, medics, and other specialists to arrive. “The assumption,” one expert said, “was that time was on their side.” Police forces arriving on the scene of a shooting no longer entertain this assumption.

  • It’s time to repeal the gun industry’s exceptional legal immunity

    Coming up with effective and realistic solutions to curb gun violence is not easy. Guns pose a tricky dilemma, because they can be used to do good or bad things. They can be used to commit heinous crimes, but they can be used to protect lives as well. The challenge for lawmakers is to come up with ways to reduce the risk of criminal misuse of guns while preserving and even promoting the likelihood of guns being used in beneficial ways. Ensuring that every firearm manufacturer and dealer operates as safely and responsibly as possible should be one piece of the puzzle. A key way to ensure that gun companies have the right incentives would be to repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Enacted in 2005, this federal law gave gun sellers a special immunity from legal responsibilities, which is not enjoyed by any other industry. Gun manufacturers and dealers should not be subject to any extraordinary forms of liability that do not apply to other products. They should not be liable, for example, merely because a firearm is a weapon that is capable of being used to do harm. But if a gun manufacturer or dealer fails to take basic, reasonable precautions in distributing products, it should be held accountable under the law just as an irresponsible company in any other business would be. With the risks of firearms in the wrong hands becoming ever more apparent, Congress should reconsider its regrettable decision to give the gun industry special immunity from legal responsibility.

  • A woman’s involvement makes San Bernardino shooting rare among mass shootings

    The shooting in San Bernardino, California marked the 355th mass shooting in the United States in fewer than as many days in 2015. As details emerge regarding the events, it is clear that these types of crimes are morphing and not abating. “Shootings involving mission-oriented females may be a new threshold which should be concerning to all of us, and the incident in San Bernardino might just be a hybrid, and a harbinger, of shootings to come,” says an expert.

  • Tashfeen Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS

    Tashfeen Malik, one of the two attackers who killed fourteen people in a San Bernardino social service center, used her smartphone to post a pledged allegiance on her Facebook page to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ISIS leader – and officials say that timeline of the attack shows that she posted her message while driving with her husband, Syed Rizwan Farook, in the black SUV in the moments after the attack. The two were killed in a shootout with the police about two hours later.

  • DHS, NYPD train on response to active shooters

    After months of coordination between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) and the New York Police Department (NYPD) Counter Terrorism Division, the NYPD conducted an active shooter training exercise on 22 November. S&T says that the exercise not only tested their training and proficiency, but also allowed them to incorporate several commercial technologies that could benefit future emergency situations.

  • Effective policing depends on public trust: Report

    Public trust and confidence in the police have remained flat for several decades despite a declining crime rate in the United States, a problem that has become especially salient in the wake of recent police shootings of unarmed black men. A new report shows that policing practices focused on respectful treatment and transparent decision making are likely to be more effective than traditional punishment-based strategies in building public trust and encouraging cooperation with the police.