As journalists, we work from the facts, which are these: By the end of an average day in America, 31 people will be murdered by gunfire. Another 55 people will die from self-inflicted gunshots. More than 206 others will suffer nonfatal bullet wounds. Few of these deaths and injuries draw wide notice. But they are the context for the tragedies, like the one that took place on Wednesday night in Charleston, South Carolina, that galvanize national attention.
We do bring a point of view to the issue of gun violence: We believe there is too much of it. But our focus is on a related problem: the shortage of information on the subject at large. Thanks to legislative measures facilitated by the gun lobby, there’s basically no Centers for Disease Control funding for research into the causes of our country’s epidemic levels of shootings. Federal law enforcement agencies are limited in the firearms trace data they can share with lawmakers and the press. Gun companies are shielded from litigation that might bring greater transparency to their business practices. Proposed gag laws would prevent doctors from even talking to their patients about basic gun-safety practices.
Greater information about gun violence could, at a minimum, enrich the debate over possible solutions. As it is, the lack of information means that the loudest voices too often drown out all others.
One way to combat a scarcity of knowledge is through journalism. That’s the idea behind The Trace. It is our mission to expand understanding of the policy, politics, culture, and business of guns in America through daily reporting, investigations, analysis, and commentary.
Always, the articles we publish will be shaped by these core values:
· ACCURACY. We check our facts, clearly cite our sources, and quickly correct any errors.
· FAIRNESS. We seek comment from all sides of a story and engage with opposing viewpoints.
· EMPATHY. We tell the underreported stories of victims of gun violence with the aim of showing that every gun death and injury matters. When writing about everyday gun owners, we portray them with respect.
· DOGGEDNESS. We are unstinting in our efforts to uncover answers and address misperceptions. We practice journalism that seeks not only common ground, but also, above all, the common good.
The site that you are reading now is a work in progress. As The Trace evolves, we would be very grateful for your feedback. You can find our work at thetrace.org and engage with us at @teamtrace or Facebook.com/teamtrace.