The late Richard Dyke did as much as anyone to make AR-15-style rifles a centerpiece of the consumer firearms market. He wasn’t a gun enthusiast or a right-wing idealogue — he was a businessman who bought a failing gunmaker called Bushmaster in the 1970s, and spent the following decades pulling the levers of politics and society to profit from Americans’ primal fears. [ProPublica]
The Gun Machine
In the eight years Alain Stephens has spent reporting on gun violence, he’s spoken to a lot of people about a lot of difficult things. But for him, a conversation with Edris Thomas — his mom’s closest friend — was the hardest.
Stephens interviewed Thomas for The Gun Machine, a podcast from WBUR and The Trace. They spoke about his father, John Stephens, a stoic air traffic controller and Air Force veteran who spent “countless hours reading books.” In 2008, John killed himself, connecting Stephens and Thomas to the millions of Americans who carry the memories of those who died at the end of a gun.
In the final episode of the podcast and an accompanying essay, Stephens tries to make sense of the senseless, meeting with others who have lost loved ones to gun violence and sharing what he’s learned in his years of hard conversations. One of his takeaways: “In a world of countless dead,” Stephens writes, “one death has to matter.”
Cherelle Parker, Philadelphia’s mayor-elect and the first woman to lead the city, is candid about her plans to combat the city’s gun violence crisis. She speaks with an impassioned cadence when explaining her ideas for fighting crime: bringing in the National Guard, embracing community-based violence prevention programs, and, controversially, ramping up the use of stop-and-frisk policing.
Parker won’t be sworn into office until January. But, already, her frankness about stop-and-frisk has elicited strong responses from constituents — about how she should reimplement it, or whether she should at all. The Trace’s Mensah M. Dean has the story.
What to Know Today
An Oregon judge ruled that a voter-approved gun law, known as Measure 114, violates the state’s constitution and continued to block it from taking effect. The law is one of the toughest in the country and was among the first to be passed after the Supreme Court’s 2022 Bruen decision. [Associated Press]
A state appeals court upheld a California law that gives researchers access to data collected during firearm and ammunition purchases, giving a win to the Firearm Violence Research Center at the University of California, Davis, and others studying gun violence. [The San Diego Union-Tribune]
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to ban people with domestic violence convictions from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammunition in the state for eight years. The law, which goes into effect in February, mirrors existing federal regulation. [Detroit Free Press]
More than half of Americans who die by suicide kill themselves using a gun. Paul Nestadt, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, explains the strategies that work to prevent these deaths. [The Guardian]
President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign is making a concerted effort to highlight the dangers of another Trump administration. On Monday, the campaign issued its latest warning, in a memo titled “Trump’s America in 2025: More Guns, More Shootings, More Deaths.” [The Hill]
An armed man spent months frightening members of the Travis Heights neighborhood in Austin, Texas, but their reports to police never resulted in action. In August, New York Police Department officers arrested him with a cache of weapons. The markedly different response shows the tension between the two states’ gun laws. [Texas Monthly]
How Much Are Americans Paying for Gun Violence?: A shooting’s toll on survivors and people close to them can be overwhelming and long-lasting. Readers ask why there isn’t more research on just how much it’s costing victims and their communities. (August 2023)