A few months ago, we asked for your feedback on the look and feel of The Trace’s website, as well as your responses to some ideas we’d been exploring for updating how we present our reporting. Hundreds of readers generously took the time to share their impressions. 

Yesterday afternoon, we unveiled the product of the process that your input helped drive: an overhauled and upgraded thetrace.org. Informed by readers’ thoughtful notes and mindful of our mission as the only newsroom dedicated to covering gun violence, Data and Graphics Editor Daniel Nass and Special Projects Editor Miles Kohrman worked with the peerless team at Upstatement to reimagine the design and organization of the entire site.

As you kick the tires, here are a few elements we’d like to spotlight:

  • The new homepage better showcases the deliberate and in-depth approach we apply to our coverage, which stands in contrast to the whiplash churn of today’s news cycles.
  • Our article layouts are more welcoming to new readers as they join The Trace community, and more reflective of the optimism we bring to our work, despite the weighty and often wrenching nature of the subject matter.
  • Overall, the new design is meant to emphasize the humanity at the heart of our stories – the people across the country affected by gun violence and the fight for a safer and more just country. 

What hasn’t changed: our journalism itself, though we are always assessing how it might have a bigger impact and better serve the communities most harmed by gun violence, who’ve often been ignored or misrepresented by for-profit media.

And while we’re ready to launch the redesigned Trace, our readers will continue to play a vital role in improving our work. If you have feedback, comments, or questions, please share them by replying to this email. – James Burnett, editorial director

What To Know Today

Chicago police have linked rising violence to bail reform. New research disputes their claim. Over the summer, the city’s police chief said Chicago could curb surging crime if judges kept people in jail while awaiting trial. It’s been a common refrain from police and city leaders since surrounding Cook County instituted reforms in 2017. But a new report from Loyola University researchers found that of the 9,133 people released in the six months after the reforms, just three were subsequently charged with homicide and five with aggravated battery using a gun (often the charge for a nonfatal shooting). That same year, Chicago had nearly 2,400 shootings and more than 550 homicides overall. “We should be concerned [when] homicides and shootings increase or spike. But I think oftentimes we’re looking for really simple answers to why those things are occurring,” one of the study’s authors said. “The likelihood of violent crime among pretrial releases is extremely low.” Related: Officials in New York City have similarly tied bail reform to rising violence, even as the NYPD’s own data undercut that narrative.

A big indoor gun show won’t go forward in Virginia after a court said it must comply with COVID-19 limitations. The promoter of The Nations Gun Show — a three-day event that was expected to draw as many as 25,000 this weekend — sued the state for an exemption from reinstated lockdown restrictions that limit the size of public gatherings. A judge denied the request. “Putting hundreds or even thousands of Virginians at risk for the sole purpose of selling guns is just not worth it, and I’m pleased that the Judge agreed with me,” said Attorney General Mark Herring.

In his first public interview, the Kenosha shooter said he was justified in bringing an assault-style rifle to racial justice protests. The 17-year-old makes his defense in a detailed Washington Post video investigation that fleshes out his mindset and intentions while also profiling one of the two men he’s accused of fatally shooting. The gunman was not old enough to purchase the rifle he allegedly used, and the Post confirmed that he illegally obtained the gun from a friend making a straw purchase. 

As gun violence soars in Philly, the city’s Sheriff’s Office can’t locate hundreds of guns in its custody. An investigation by the City Controller’s Office found that more than 200 firearms were missing — about half part of the agency’s arsenal, the others seized from people under abuse orders. The report blamed poor record keeping and inventory practices. The revelation comes as the city is battling a state ban on local gun laws and seeking to enforce an anti-tracking ordinance that requires dealers to report lost-and-stolen guns.

Data Point

Black people made up 52 percent of 1,600 stops by the Portland Police Department’s gun violence unit in 2019, despite comprising 6 percent of the city’s population. [The Oregonian]