At the Trace, we are dedicated to full-time coverage of gun violence, but we are far from alone in covering this confounding problem. In recent years, many newsrooms in the United States have stepped up their coverage, as well. Here, in our round up of these stories, readers will find a curated package of must-reads, investigations, and essays. These articles cover everything, including where the bullets used in mass shootings are manufactured, profiles of the unexpected people who hold power, and innovative programs that try to prevent gun violence. Some of these stories are heartbreaking but others — and this is so important — offer hope and solutions to what seems like an unsolvable problem.  

We learned a lot from the journalism below, and we hope you will, too.

Samantha Storey, managing editor

The Secret History of Gun Rights: How Lawmakers Armed the N.R.A.

Mike McIntire | The New York Times

Drawing on documents and other records, the article — as I’ve sought to do in mine — challenges conventional wisdom about the National Rifle Association. There has long been a tendency to treat the group’s power as almost god-given, but in reality, as the reporting shows in this story from The Times, the NRA has power because lawmakers seeking political advantage give it to the group. If there’s ever going to be a successful movement for reform, then understanding that the root of the NRA’s power comes not from money or evil genius — that it is in fact bestowed — is key.

— Mike Spies, senior staff writer

Voices From Chicago’s Most Violent Neighborhood

Andy Grimm | Chicago Sun-Times

West Garfield Park, a neighborhood in Chicago, has experienced nearly 1,000 shootings over the last five years — that works out to roughly a shooting every other day. The Sun-Times spoke to some of the residents who live there, the people who have stayed despite the nearly constant gunfire. The result is a deeply empathetic project that focuses on individual stories, showing Garfield Park from all its angles, the good and the bad.

— Sunny Sone, newsletter editor

Terror on Repeat: A rare look at the devastation caused by AR-15 shootings

Silvia Foster-Frau, N. Kirkpatrick and Arelis R. Hernández | The Washington Post

The Washington Post took the rare step of showing the bloody aftermath of mass shootings. Depicting crime scene photos from mass shootings has been a matter of contentious debate for a decade. People who’ve argued in favor of it say that if more people — and lawmakers – saw the carnage, they’d favor stronger gun laws, and this photo essay marks a turning point.

— Jennifer Mascia, senior news writer

How a Maine Businessman Made the AR-15 Into America’s Best-Selling Rifle

James Bandler and Doris Burke | ProPublica

This story is about Richard Dyke, who used political connections and lobster giveaways to build Bushmaster, the company that popularized assault-style rifles.The reporters persuaded lots of people to talk about Dyke and surfaced great details. As the reporters note, people with personal motives, not just interest groups and ideologies, are responsible for this country’s peculiar embrace of firearms. 

— Will Van Sant, staff writer

How the U.S. Drives Gun Exports and Fuels Violence Around the World

Michael Riley, David Kocieniewski, and Eric Fan | Bloomberg

The exportation of American guns has a deep impact on foreign countries. This story has loads of fantastic data and provides a great case study of how lives are upended by our gun exports. Readers will learn why American guns aren’t just America’s problem.

— Agya Aning, editing fellow

Mass Murder Is a Choice. The Gun Industry Made It

Tim Dickinson | Rolling Stone

This story provides a highly detailed, historical look at AR-platform rifles, shedding light on how the gun industry has marketed these weapons in ways that appeal to mass shooters. The piece shows how this has led to a proliferation of assault weapons in civilian hands, and it helps explain why assault weapons are so often used by mass shooters.

— Brian Freskos, news editor

His Friends Believed He Could Have Been the Next MLK. A Bullet Took His Life

Suzette Hackney | USA Today

The essay, about a 23-year-old activist who was killed by gun violence, is beautifully written. The piece begins, “I went to Seattle to look for the spirit of Elijah Lee Lewis. I found more than I ever expected.” The article’s sentence-by-sentence structure conveys a deep feeling of loss and tells the story of a person who made a difference in people’s lives.

— Sunny Sone, newsletter editor

Army Ammunition Plant Is Tied to Mass Shootings Across the U.S.

Ben Dooley | The New York Times

The story from The New York Times focuses on a factory run by a private contractor and overseen by the Army that has pumped billions of rounds of military-grade ammunition into the commercial market. While ostensibly charged with promoting public safety, the government is very much an arms industry enabler, and that dynamic warrants more scrutiny. This story is a welcome start.

— Will Van Sant, staff writer

One City’s Surprising Tactic to Reduce Gun Violence: Solving More Nonfatal Shootings

Ted Alcorn | The Marshall Project

A Denver police unit started investigating all shootings, like homicides — and it made a difference. Denver’s approach not only challenges traditional policing methods across the U.S. but also highlights the importance of resource allocation and the impact of law enforcement practices on clearance rates. This story is a must-read for anyone interested in the evolution of law enforcement strategies and their societal impact. It fosters a deeper understanding of criminal justice system challenges and potential solutions.

— Brian Freskos, news editor

Gun Violence Has Affected Most Families in the U.S., New Survey Finds

Deidre McPhillips | CNN

This CNN story presents gun violence as an issue that affects everyone, yet it also points out disparities and highlights trends that were identified in new research. The graphs and visuals provide readers with a deeper level of understanding and add a human interest element that can resonate. It also provides insight about how people feel, and particularly their fears and opinions. 

— Afea Tucker, engagement reporter, Philadelphia

The Trigger Goes Click: How Social Media Is Fueling Philly-Area Gun Violence

Hayden Mitman | NBC Philadelphia

We don’t hear a ton about how social media contributes to gun violence, often turning petty beefs into tragedy. This video series and accompanying story look at the problem and also some potential solutions up close. We talk a lot about the corrosive effects of “doomscrolling” on young people, but I’m not convinced that people realize that these platforms actually contribute to gun violence. It explains a little-known facet of the crisis, and does a good job of explaining the problem.

Joy Resmovits, senior editor, local impact

When Law Enforcement Alone Can’t Stop the Violence

Alec MacGillis | The New Yorker

Under the Biden administration, there’s been a flood of money sent to programs that work toward preventing community violence. This article, centered on one such program in Baltimore, examines the origins and history of these organizations and asks, how effective are they? What’s interesting, in particular, about this story is how it brings the reader on the street, following one worker on a mission to effect change. The New Yorker allows you to read and listen to this story, and I highly recommend the latter option. Audio can be the most cinematic of mediums, and this story does not disappoint.

— Samantha Storey, managing editor   

The Life of a Gun

Stephen Montemayor | The Star Tribune

This three-part series offers a detailed and thoroughly reported exploration of how gun trafficking, legal restrictions on gun tracing, and the proliferation of machine gun conversion devices fuel violence nationwide. These insightful stories will equip readers with a broader understanding of the complex dynamics driving the gun violence crisis.

— Brian Freskos, news editor

After the Police Kill Your Loved One, Who Can You Lean On?

Samantha Michaels | Mother Jones

The article is about the families left behind, thousands of people, who are disproportionately Black, Indigenous, and Latino, and how they have to learn to live with grief and trauma. The story focuses on the family members of gun violence victims Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake, who are creating a movement to support one another. Most stories about police shootings do not leave a reader with any sense of hope, this one does. 

— Sunny Sone, newsletter editor