A Reagan-Era Ban on Undetectable Firearms Is About to Expire. Will Congress Save It?
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and other lawmakers are pushing to reauthorize the 1988 Undetectable Firearms Act, a congressional law meant to ban firearms invisible to X-rays and metal detectors, that is set to expire on March 8. The act targets plastic weapons and requires that every gun include enough...
Gary, Indiana, Begins to See Fewer Homicides as Community Leaders Band Together
This story was published in partnership with Capital B Gary. Michelle Pratchet can’t remember the last time she heard gunshots. The newfound quiet is a welcome change for the 54-year-old, who was born and raised in Gary, Indiana, a city often stigmatized for its history of violence. “I just...
Three Decades After the Brady Bill, Some Gun Buyers Still Don’t Undergo Background Checks
On February 28, 1994, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act took effect, implementing a nationwide system for background checks on gun sales. Known as the Brady Bill, the legislation standardized what had been a state-by-state patchwork of vetting for prospective gun owners, and introduced background check systems to 32 states that didn’t have one.
Jury Finds the NRA, Wayne LaPierre Liable in Corruption Case
A jury has found the National Rifle Association and its recently departed CEO, Wayne LaPierre, liable in a civil corruption case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James. Jurors ordered LaPierre to pay the gun group more than $4.3 million in damages. Although LaPierre announced his resignation three days...
The Unmasking of Wayne LaPierre
This story was published in partnership with The New Yorker. In early January, Wayne LaPierre, the longtime head of the National Rifle Association, and Donald Trump were one floor apart in the civil branch of the New York State Supreme Court, each on trial for a range of financial misdeeds. There was an uncanny symmetry to the occasion. LaPierre had, for more than 30 years, positioned himself as the leader of a warrior tribe in a fight against imminent cultural extinction. He invoked violent imagery, inflamed partisan tensions, stoked outrage, and exploited fear and paranoia. He channelled those emotions in the service of profit and power, tapping into the country’s darkest impulses at the expense of civil society. Before Trump, he was the warmup act that primed the audience. “Do you trust this government to protect you?” he once asked in a speech, and then answered, “We are on our own.”
Brandon Johnson Is Making Progress on Gun Violence. But Some Chicagoans Still Feel Forgotten.
Brandon Johnson won Chicago’s tight mayoral race last year against tough-on-crime candidate Paul Vallas with the message that he would prioritize long-term solutions to gun violence. But while Johnson pursues that pledge, the neighborhoods facing the brunt of the crisis are waiting for relief that can make their streets safer now.
Stray Bullets Are Killing Kids Across the U.S.
In August 2022, I arrived in Minneapolis on a reporting trip. The murder of George Floyd and the resulting chaos still hung in the air like acrid smoke. I sat in a lofty food court in a desolate downtown mall, and hurriedly prepared for an interview, the picture of the city’s gun violence problem coming into focus on my phone as I searched the internet. As it had in most places, gun purchasing in the state had surged during the pandemic. So had homicides, 80 percent of which took place within the metro area. I was there to report on a suicide, and learned that statewide they were twice as common outside the Twin Cities as within.
Jury Weighs Thorny NRA Corruption Charges
A jury in a Manhattan courthouse began deliberating February 16 in the New York attorney general’s civil fraud case against the National Rifle Association and its former boss, Wayne LaPierre. The morning began with some attorneys for the defense angrily denouncing the opposing side for, they argued, having gone...
How American Gun Culture Fuels Anti-Immigrant Politics
Immigration has long been a source of division in American politics, but the issue has reached a crescendo in recent months. In February, a feud over immigration policy between Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the White House prompted hundreds of Trump supporters, Christian nationalists, and conspiracy theorists to converge on the U.S. border with Mexico for “Take Our Border Back” rallies. And in Congress, Republicans blocked a bipartisan immigration deal and impeached President Joe Biden’s top immigration official, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
Gun Violence Affects Suicide Risk Among Black People, Study Finds
Black adults exposed to various forms of gun violence may be at significant risk of suicidal ideation at some point during their lifetime, according to the results of a new study correlating gun violence and personal well-being. The suicide rate among Black Americans increased by 58 percent between 2011 and...
The Osteen Church Shooter Doesn’t Fit a Neat Profile
On February 11, a woman opened fire in Joel Osteen’s megachurch in Houston. She had a “Palestine” sticker affixed to her AR-15. She’d been engaged in a contentious custody battle with her ex-husband and his family, some of whom are Jewish. She had a criminal history, served a short jail sentence, and was detained for a mental health emergency.
This New York County Is Disarming Record Numbers of Potentially Dangerous People
In August 2023, police in Suffolk County, New York, received a 911 call. A person put a fake gun to their head, threatening suicide. “Wait until I get a real one,” they said. The responding officer quickly filed an Extreme Risk Protection Order application, which a judge granted soon after, temporarily barring the person from buying a gun. Just a few weeks later, the same person attempted to buy a real one. The order blocked the purchase.
Chicago Mayor Ends the City’s Use of ShotSpotter
Mayor Brandon Johnson announced Tuesday that he will not renew the city’s contract with the company behind ShotSpotter, the controversial gunshot detection technology. ShotSpotter alerts police to shootings by using hundreds of acoustic sensors throughout the city. Johnson’s decision comes after years of criticism from researchers and community activists...
The IRS May Have Investigated the NRA, Document Suggests. What Happened?
Midway through week two of the National Rifle Association’s ongoing civil corruption trial in Manhattan last month, a defense attorney asked the organization’s chief financial officer whether the NRA had ever received “an inquiry from the IRS” about its annual tax filing. “Yes,” answered Sonya Rowling, who joined the NRA in 1999 and became CFO in 2021. “Just recently. A couple months ago maybe. Right before the holidays.”
Test Your Knowledge of U.S. Gun Laws
At the Trace, we often write about gun laws — but even we get stumped from time to time. We regularly come across something unexpected or have to check with legal experts for a refresher. This got us wondering about how much Americans know about their gun laws. So…...
The Lost Children of North Minneapolis
The story was published in partnership with Sahan Journal, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to covering immigrants and communities of color in Minnesota. On a rainy day in October 2022, K.G. Wilson rolled down Colfax Avenue in his burgundy Cadillac between the makeshift memorials to children who’ve been shot in North Minneapolis. He pointed to the street that was dedicated to a 12-year-old boy who was shot to death in front of his mother by a teenager after a fight. Farther north, he tended to the plastic flowers on a pole at Lowry and Penn, marking the spot where a 2-year-old was shot in the chest and killed in 2016 by shooters aiming for his stepfather. The boy’s younger sister was also shot, but she survived.
Mexico’s Lawsuit Against U.S. Gunmakers Has Cleared a Big Hurdle
On January 22, a U.S. federal appeals court revived a lawsuit by the Mexican government accusing America’s largest gunmakers of aiding and abetting the trafficking of weapons across the border. Litigation against gunmakers is almost always tossed out because of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or...
The Power of Shock: How a Philadelphia Activist Is Using a Casket to Prevent Gun Violence
As you walk into Michael Ta‘Bon’s North Philadelphia rowhouse, you can’t miss the tall, white rectangular object leaning against a wall. It’s a casket. Hanging nearby is a set of handcuffs. Vibrant paintings preaching messages of peace and anti-violence adorn the walls. A few miles away from the rowhouse sits a flatbed truck that Ta’Bon owns with a 20-by-6 foot custom-built, two-story compartment that contains a replica of a jail cell.
The Way We Define Mass Shootings Affects How We Respond
We’re one month into 2024 and, depending on who you ask, we’ve had 32 mass shootings, five mass shootings, or, according to some, no mass shootings at all. There are so many different numbers because there’s no single agreed-upon meaning of “mass shooting.” Researchers, nonprofit trackers, and the media use different definitions.
The Trace Is Hiring an Editorial Assistant
The Trace seeks an editorial assistant to support and collaborate with editors and reporters and tend to our growing nonprofit newsroom. Our team produces impact-focused independent journalism that shines a light on America’s gun violence crisis. While our newsroom is distributed around the United States, this particular role is hybrid, requiring in-person work at our Brooklyn, New York, office. The role is ideal for someone in the early years of their career who is passionate about journalism and is hungry to learn about how it works.
The Trace is an independent, nonprofit news organization dedicated to expanding coverage of guns in the United States.