What to Know Today
NEW from THE TRACE: Philly, what do you want to know about gun violence? Afea Tucker loves Philadelphia — where she was born and raised — but she’s no stranger to the city’s gun violence crisis. For years, she’s seen the trauma caused by shootings, and watched media outlets fail victims and their families time and time again. As The Trace’s new Philadelphia engagement reporter, she hopes to connect residents who have been affected by gun violence with useful information about where to go for help, and to cover the stories that are missing from the current conversation. Tucker wants to hear directly from Philadelphians to understand what’s needed most in communities. If you’re in the city, let her know what you’d like to see in her coverage by filling out her survey here.
State lawmakers move to impeach Philly DA. House Republicans brought two articles of impeachment against Larry Krasner on Wednesday, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, charging that the district attorney engaged in “misbehavior in office” and obstructed the efforts of the committee investigating him. The move comes two days after the committee, searching for grounds to remove him from office, released a report that did not recommend impeachment, and less than two weeks before the midterm elections. Only two officials have ever been impeached in Pennsylvania: A district judge was removed from office in 1811, and a state Supreme Court justice who was impeached in 1994. The Trace’s Mensah M. Dean reported last week that Krasner and his supporters believe his prosecution of police wrongdoing has played a part in the effort to remove him from office.
2022 is the worst year on record for gun violence at schools. There are still months to go. As of October 24, there have been 257 incidents — any occurrence of a firearm being brandished or discharged — on school grounds, surpassing 2021’s record-breaking total of 250. Both of those tallies are far higher than the number of incidents in 2018 (119); 2019 (119); and 2020 (114), according to criminologists writing for The Conversation. And more people died in mass shootings at American schools between 2018 and 2022 than in any of the previous 18 years combined. Schools have seen shootings every year since 1966, but despite the “hardening” of schools after the Columbine massacre two decades ago, the number of incidents has continued to rise. “Many of these shootings,” the criminologists write, “were not the mass killing events that schools typically drill for. Rather, they were an extension of rising everyday gun violence.”
Police use of ShotSpotter raises significant Fourth Amendment concerns. ShotSpotter claims that its gunshot-detection device, which uses acoustic sensors, can triangulate the locations of gunshots with a high degree of accuracy. But as The Trace has reported, a mounting body of evidence suggests that the system is ineffective at preventing shootings and may lead to needless, and sometimes deadly, encounters with police. A new article in the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform argues that the use of ShotSpotter is unconstitutional, noting that its deployment often results in infringement upon civil liberties and privacy rights — and that police use the technology to create reasonable suspicion where it doesn’t exist.
Investigation targeting California gangs results in seizure of more than 100 ghost guns. “Operation Devil’s Den,” a collaboration between the ATF and law enforcement in Escondido, targeted alleged gang members selling ghost guns. ATF officials told The San Diego Union-Tribune that law enforcement seized 33 machine guns, including 19 that used devices that had converted them from semiautomatic to fully automatic, as well as 71 pistols, six rifles, two shotguns, and one silencer. Twenty-one people have been arrested in connection with the investigation. What makes a gun a ghost gun? The term is used by media, police, and sometimes the firearms industry to describe homemade weapons devoid of serial numbers or other identifying markings. The Trace’s Alain Stephens explains everything you need to know about ghost guns here.
We’re hiring: Apply to The Trace’s new editing fellowship. We’re launching a two-year fellowship for early- to mid-career journalists looking to establish themselves as editors. You don’t need to have editing experience to apply, but we do ask that you have an eagerness to collaborate and an aptitude for thoughtful journalism. The salary range is $60,000 to $80,000. Applications are open through October 31. Find more details here.
1,930 — the number of shooting victims in Philadelphia so far this year. [Philadelphia Center for Gun Violence Reporting]