Crime and gun violence intersect at unusual angles for 2022: The Note

It's not clear how the reactions to too many tragedies will factor politically.

Video byCaterina Andreano and Katrina Stapleton
July 6, 2022, 6:01 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

There’s one party that tends to want to talk about crime and the things it claims that the other party doesn’t want to do about it. There’s another party that wants to highlight gun violence and what they cast as their opponents' reticence to address it.

Then come the painful last few weeks, where three horrific mass shootings in three much different places had few similarities beyond the profile of the shooter, the type of weapon he was able to legally procure and the sorrow and anger that follows tragedy after tragedy.

Add to that the improbable passage of a new federal gun law and the Supreme Court taking the issue in the other direction and the result is an unsettled and unusual landscape around gun violence and crime. They are separate yet related issues that still may not be more salient than the economy and inflation this midterm year.

The Fourth of July rampage in Highland Park, Ill., has renewed attention on the state's Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose passionate response to the shooting contrasted with his Republican opponent’s initial take -- subsequently amended -- that people should “move on … and celebrate.”

Pritzker said President Joe Biden agrees with him that “this madness must stop.” But Biden and his White House have said the real answers lie at the ballot box -- a tacit acknowledgment that there’s no reasonable way that another federal gun law passes this year or maybe any year on the horizon.

The new law passed by the narrowly divided Congress and signed by Biden just last month may not have kept a weapon from the latest gunman’s hands. The fact that the shooting happened in a suburb of a major American city often marred by violence, with a gun legally obtained in a city and a state with strict gun laws, offers an easy counter for Republicans who say the focus should be on mental illness as opposed to more restrictions.

Last month, a FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos poll in the field after the Uvalde, Texas, shooting found 42% of adults named “crime or gun violence” as one of the most important issues facing the country -- a jump of 19 percentage points since the previous month.

The issue could get bigger still in the four months before the midterms in November. But it’s not yet clear how the passionate reactions to too many tragedies will factor into political equations.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House, July 5, 2022.
President Joe Biden speaks during a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House, July 5, 2022.
Evan Vucci/AP

The RUNDOWN with Brittany Shepherd

Democrats saw a fleeting win followed by a crushing loss in the Sunshine State on Tuesday, when Florida's 15-week abortion ban was temporarily blocked by a state court and then reinstated.

Circuit Judge John Cooper signed an injunction on Tuesday morning that extended the legal window of abortions in the state until 24 weeks, saying the initial law was unconstitutional -- an incremental victory for advocates of abortion access in the state who worried that the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe. v. Wade would allow the conservative legislature to further restrict access to abortion.

But their win was short lived, when just hours later the state immediately appealed Cooper’s block, resulting in a stay of the 15-week window with exceptions in some instances to save the life of the mother. Currently, the law, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April, has no rape or incest exemptions.

In a statement, the Florida Democratic Party said DeSantis’ abortion ban makes Florida “a less free place to live.” (DeSantis is known to boast of his home turf as “the free state of Florida.”)

“It’s truly devastating that this extreme law is being reinstated. Floridians deserve the fundamental right to choose where, when, and how they start a family. Floridians should continue fighting DeSantis’ never-ending attempts to dismantle personal freedoms,” Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kobie Christian said.

It’s likely that state lawmakers will push for more restrictive legislation -- or even an all-out ban -- on abortion. After the Supreme Court announced their decision late last month, DeSantis promised as much while lauding the ruling reversing Roe.

“Florida will continue to defend its recently-enacted pro-life reforms against state court challenges, will work to expand pro-life protections, and will stand for life by promoting adoption, foster care, and child welfare,” DeSantis wrote in a tweeted statement.

PHOTO: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, May 9, 2022.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at Miami's Freedom Tower, May 9, 2022.
Marta Lavandier/AP, FILE

The TIP with Hannah Demissie

A Fulton County, Georgia, special grand jury investigating possible criminal interference in the state's 2020 elections has issued subpoenas to some of former President Donald Trump's key allies, including former personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

As first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, these subpoenas may mark the closest this grand jury has come to Trump's advisers.

Others who were also issued subpoenas include Kenneth Chesebro, John Eastman, Jenna Ellis and Cleta Mitchell. They have all advised Trump on ways to overturn now-President Biden's win in Georgia in 2020.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has been investigating Trump's actions to overturn the election results in Georgia.

One of the incidents Willis has been investigating includes phone calls made by Graham to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger following the 2020 election about "reexamining" absentee ballots cast in the state to see if it would help Trump tighten the margin between him and Biden. Graham has denied acting improperly.

Although this is a significant development for the grand jury, it may be hard to secure testimony from Giuliani, Chesebro, Eastman, Ellis and Mitchell, since they could argue attorney-client privilege.

The subpoenas overlap with the ongoing public hearings held by the House's Jan. 6 committee investigating last year's Capitol attack by a pro-Trump mob. The investigation by the Georgia grand jury is separate from the investigation being conducted by the bipartisan committee in the House.

The special grand jury can meet through May 2023, but Willis has said she expects their work to wrap before then.

At the end of its investigation, the grand jury will, if appropriate, make recommendations in a report to prosecutors who would then ultimately decide whether to pursue charges, if at all.

PHOTO: Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks with reporters about aid to Ukraine, on Capitol Hill, March 10, 2022.
Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks with reporters about aid to Ukraine, on Capitol Hill, March 10, 2022.
Alex Brandon/AP, FILE

NUMBER OF THE DAY, powered by FiveThirtyEight

32. That’s the percentage of adults in the U.S. who have a bachelor’s degree, per the Census Bureau. It's an important stat to keep in mind, as FiveThirtyEight’s Monica Potts writes, as Democrats are doubling down on their efforts to win back working-class voters. Unfortunately in the Trump era, “working class” -- already a squishy category -- has largely been defined as people, especially white people, who haven’t graduated from college. (On that note, only 36 percent of white, non-Hispanic people have a bachelor’s degree per the census.) Read more from Monica on why “working class” is a murky term and why Democratic appeals to win back these voters are unlikely to work.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. "Start Here" begins Wednesday morning with new information about the Illinois holiday parade shooting suspect as authorities try to piece together a motive. ABC's Aaron Katersky starts us off. Then, ABC's Guy Davies breaks down why British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing another leadership crisis. And, ABC's Juju Chang discusses her Nightline interview with John Hinckley Jr. -- Ronald Reagan's attempted assassin -- after he was freed from all court oversight last month.


  • President Biden will speak at a Cleveland high school at 3:15 p.m. ET, "announcing the final rule implementing the American Rescue Plan’s Special Financial Assistance program," according to the White House. The program "will protect millions of workers in multiemployer pension plans who faced significant cuts to their benefits.”

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The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back on Thursday for the latest.

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