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News and notes on guns in America

26 Resources to Further Your Understanding of Gun Violence in America

The Las Vegas massacre drove home the importance of fact-based research, reporting, and storytelling about gun violence in America. After the shooting, we shared with our weekly newsletter subscribers a list of vital resources that have expanded our own thinking about the epidemic we cover every day. We want to share it with you, too. Below is a partial list of seminal books, articles, movies, radio episodes, photos, and infographics that will further your understanding of America’s gun crisis:

  • Read Ghettoside, Jill Leovy’s epic, empathetic, enraging look at how unsolved shootings breed a cycle of killings in underserved precincts.
  • Listen to “Harper High School,” a two-part series from This American Life that captures what life is like for students living in a violence-plagued city neighborhood.
  • Glock by Paul M. Barrett takes readers inside the gun industry, and the marketing of pistols as a self-defense necessity.
  • Adam Winkler’s Gunfight is a non-fiction legal thriller about the Supreme Court case that established a right to private gun ownership.
  • Citizen-Protectors by Jennifer Carlson is a must-read for anyone hoping to understand the gun debate through the eyes of a concealed carrier.
  • The sheer scale of gun violence can be hard to grasp. Here’s a simple visualization that drives it home. A year’s worth of American gun deaths are represented by individual emoji; what you see is about 1/50th of the whole page. Click through, scroll down, and get a sense of the never-ending toll.
  • Danny Wilcox Frazier’s photographs of the aftermath of shootings in Detroit are both unbearable, and essential.
  • The short documentary “Stray Bullet” shows what one did to a vivacious 11-year-old girl, and the hidden burdens carried by caretakers of gun violence victims.
  • This blog post by the young urbanologist Daniel K. Hertz attuned us to “murder inequality,” his term for the vastly unequal harms that gun violence inflicts on select neighborhoods.
  • This thorough compilation of data, public records, and street-level reporting by the New York Times showed how racial disparities also apply to victims of multiple-casualty shootings, the majority of whom are people of color.
  • How do you account for the birthdays not celebrated, milestones not reached, moments not lived by shooting victims? This interactive on those “stolen years” helps.
  • Here’s a Facebook essay written this week by a surgeon from Baltimore tired of operating on so many shooting victims. Accompanying the post, she shared a photo of what she calls her “trauma shoes.” The stains speak of horrors, but the sneakers themselves embody resolve.
  • Reducing gun violence deaths in America is achievable, as this 2015 examination by BuzzFeed News laid out. Research indicates that effective strategies can include universal background checks, smart policing, and restricting gun access for people deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. (An ineffective strategy? More “good guys with guns.” Scientific American recently broke down why.)
  • Vox’s German Lopez examined the evidence and explained why laws to regulate gun ownership work.
  • As states have moved to expand gun background checks on their own, the percentage of buyers who go unvetted appears to be shrinking.
  • Four law enforcement strategies with proven potential to curb everyday gun violence — including Ceasefire and the “hot spots” model — are featured in our primer from August 2016, The Wonk’s Guide to What Works, and What Doesn’t, in Policing Violent Crime.
  • Also last year, the Guardian’s Lois Beckett examined promising but overlooked strategies to prevent gun violence.
  • A growing Chicago-based program called Becoming a Man has reduced violent-crime arrests among high-risk teenagers. In neighborhoods where trafficked guns are plentiful, enrollees are drilled on de-escalating conflicts.
  • Recognizing the acute danger faced by abuse victims who seek court protection from violent partners, at least 16 states now remove guns from abusers who have been served with a temporary restraining order. So far this year, eight states have passed new limits on gun possession for domestic abusers.
  • The Gun Shop Project, a suicide-prevention effort that began in New Hampshire and has since spread across the country, helps gun dealers spot potentially suicidal customers.
  • And finally, in medicine, law, and criminal justice, young scholars are devoting themselves to increasing the public’s knowledge of the problem.

We believe that a better informed citizenry can inch us toward a safer country. One way to do something about gun violence is to take some time to understand it better, especially on days when a mass shooting isn’t dominating the headlines. If you want to get the most important and impactful reporting on gun violence in your inbox every week, consider signing up for our newsletter.