Year in Review
At The Trace, we cover gun violence full time, but we’re far from alone in reporting on this crisis. There’s a wealth of great journalism about this confounding problem, particularly as publications across the media landscape have stepped up their coverage in recent years. 2023 was no exception.
Our staff rounded up some of the stories from this past year that stuck with us. The list includes must-reads, investigations, and essays, and covers everything from where the bullets used in mass shootings are manufactured to innovative programs that try to prevent gun violence. We learned a lot from this journalism, and hope you will, too.
For Philadelphia engagement reporter Afea Tucker, the past year has been full of incredible community work. In her last update of the year, Tucker recounts an event that capped off 2023, a special edition of the West Philly “How Dope Are You?” music and spoken word competition, co-hosted by The Trace.
The event, which took place last week, included a group discussion on gun violence. With nearly 100 people in the room, almost everyone’s hand rose when the facilitator asked if they’d been affected by the crisis. Tucker’s latest piece has more on the event and her hopeful, painful, joyful engagement work of the past year.
What to Know Today
Hawaii has long had one of the lowest rates of gun violence, and gun ownership, in the country. As thousands of residents obtain firearm permits, some wonder if that will change. [Honolulu Civil Beat]
Opponents of Michigan’s Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, signed earlier this year, are organizing a referendum campaign to nullify the law. Their deadline to amass enough signatures to get it on the ballot is the same day the measure is scheduled to go into effect, February 13. [WMUK]
In May 2022, Dakarai Baldwin — a funny, bright, and loyal 17-year-old — was killed in a triple shooting in Baltimore. His death inspired three of his loved ones to pursue different efforts to counter violence among young people. [The Baltimore Sun]
Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson’s anti-violence strategy has a granular focus: It starts with programs in four Chicago neighborhoods dealing with violent crime, and zeroes in on particular blocks within those areas. Johnson plans to target those neighborhoods with resources, including a round of guaranteed basic income. [Chicago Sun-Times]
Perceptions of “border insecurity” are fueling a resurgence of anti-government militias and extremist vigilante groups on the U.S.-Mexico border, attracting volunteers from across the country to join their ragtag, often armed, patrols. [Los Angeles Times]
Research Indicates That Red Flag Laws Work — But Only If People Know About Them: The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act incentivized states to implement extreme risk protection orders, and provide information about them to the public. A study focuses on what messages are likely to work best. (August 2023)