Telling stories about gun violence in America is an exercise in connecting the dots: It’s a complicated issue that plays out differently in different places. That’s why The Trace has invested in developing local staff. This week, I’d like to highlight the work of two reporters who joined The Trace in recent months.
Afea Tucker is our Philadelphia community engagement reporter, and she has a deep love for her city — something that’s apparent in her first story for The Trace. Tucker wrote about Bout Mine I Matter, an arts program for Philly youth who have been affected by gun violence. She held a deeply thoughtful interview with three young people enrolled in the program, and discussed their thoughts on the city’s gun violence. Tucker recently shared her New Year’s resolution for Philadelphia with a local podcast: “We need more unity in our community. I hope 2023 brings us peace.” If you have thoughts or questions about gun violence in Philly, you can get in touch with Tucker here.
Rita Oceguera is our Chicago reporter, and previously covered the criminal legal system and immigrant communities for Injustice Watch. In advance of Chicago’s mayoral election, Oceguera covered how candidates plan to respond to the city’s rising number of shootings, and spoke with organizers about how they’d like to see the next mayor approach public safety. Her story shed light on a critical subject that hadn’t yet been covered as a major campaign issue, even though Chicagoans are worried about gun violence.
Through sustained local coverage, like the important reporting that Tucker and Oceguera are undertaking, we hope to tell stories that come from the people and places they’re about, in a way that’s accountable to the subjects for the long haul — and generate new insights about how gun violence plays out throughout America. We’ve got more exciting news about our Chicago and Philadelphia coverage coming soon. Stay tuned.
From Our Team
I’ve Covered Gun Violence for 10 Years. Here’s What’s Changed — And What Hasn’t: Reflections on a tough and unrelenting beat.
An Atlas of American Gun Violence: Nine years. 330,000 shootings. How has gun violence marked your corner of the country?
In Philly, Will More Police Officers Reduce Gun Violence?: As police flood the city’s most violent areas, residents are wary, with some only leaving their homes for essentials.
Agya K. Aning Is The Trace’s Inaugural Editing Fellow: Aning previously covered environmental justice, and wrote a feature for The Trace about Black women challenging stereotypes of gun ownership in America.
What to Know This Week
The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a federal law that prevents people subject to domestic violence restraining orders from having guns is unconstitutional. If the decision is challenged, the case could go to the Supreme Court. [CNN] Context: Perpetrators of some of the country’s deadliest shootings have had a history of engaging in domestic violence.
An expansive ATF report, the first of its kind in more than 20 years, shows that the time between a legal gun purchase and that gun’s use in a crime has decreased. The report also shows most guns used in crime changed hands after their purchase. [Associated Press]
There’s evidence that Colorado’s red flag law may have prevented murders and mass shootings, but there are striking disparities in how law enforcement and courts decide who should be required to give up their guns. [CPR News]
As America’s gun violence epidemic continues, a recent flood of federal dollars is providing an opportunity for community-based violence intervention programs to prove the value of their work — but the challenges are immense. [The New Yorker and ProPublica] Context: There’s evidence that community violence intervention is effective, but large-scale traditional academic study of this type of work is rare.
Top California lawmakers announced a bill that would further strengthen the state’s gun restrictions after a string of mass shootings in recent weeks. A gun-friendly federal judge in San Diego is likely to hear a challenge by firearm advocates — and he might have the Supreme Court on his side. [Los Angeles Times/San Francisco Chronicle]
A Florida lawmaker introduced “constitutional carry” legislation, which would allow people to carry concealed guns without permits. The same day, at least 11 people in Florida were injured in a drive-by shooting. [Tallahassee Democrat/The Ledger]
Ahead of Joe Biden’s State of the Union address, more than 100 gun safety groups called for the president to announce a comprehensive plan to prevent firearm deaths, including declaring gun violence a national emergency. [Politico] Context: Gun reform advocates who supported Biden have long been frustrated by the president’s underwhelming performance on gun reform.
A 2021 Missouri law effectively banned public employees, including police, from enforcing any federal gun laws. It’s left law enforcement agencies and courts across the state confused about dealing with gun crimes. [PBS NewsHour]
The House Natural Resources Committee dropped a rule against carrying firearms in meetings, following a partisan debate in which Representative Lauren Boebert referred to the ban as an “anti-member safety amendment.” [Roll Call]
Tyce Lewis, 16, was “just a good kid,” his brother told a local ABC affiliate. Lewis was shot and killed late last month in Chesterfield County, Virginia. His family said that he loved to play football — he had been a presence on football fields since he was a toddler. He “cared about all of his friends and family and anyone else that needed him,” his brother told another TV station. “To me, he was a star,” he said. “I knew he was going to do great things.”
When Gun Violence Ends Young Lives, These Men Prepare the Graves: “More than 30 years ago, Johnnie Haire and the other groundskeepers built a garden site just for children, separate from unlabeled sections of the 30-acre cemetery where they used to bury infants. … In 2019, Haire broke ground on a new section of the cemetery where teenagers and young adults are buried, including those killed by covid-19 and many who were victims of gun violence. It’s called the ‘Garden of Grace.’ It’s already been used more than anyone would like.” [Kaiser Health News]
“There’s never a question about whether they should get rid of the police department because violence hasn’t gone down.”Shani Buggs, an assistant professor of public health at the University of California, Davis, on making community-based violence intervention programs a core city function, to The New Yorker and ProPublica