Missing Pieces, The Trace’s yearlong investigation into the violent consequences of America’s gun theft epidemic, is a Deadline Club Awards finalist in the category of Reporting by Independent Digital Media.
The project, reported in partnership with more than a dozen NBC stations, used records from more than a thousand law enforcement agencies to link stolen guns to hundreds of violent crimes, including murders, sexual assaults, and armed robberies. The number of guns reported stolen has risen every year for at least the past decade, propelled by lax storage requirements and rising rates of gun ownership.
Through dogged data reporting and vivid storytelling, Missing Pieces shows how stolen firearms are fueling the very crimes against which American gun owners seek to arm themselves.
The investigation yielded a feature article published in November 2017 on The Trace, as well as television segments that aired on 13 local and regional NBC stations. Companion articles built on our data were reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Wichita Eagle.
The Trace also made public the massive collection of data it gathered on stolen and recovered guns, for use by other news organizations, researchers, and concerned citizens.
Publications serving gun owners and political conservatives subsequently warned about the dangers of unsecured firearms. The reporting also sparked editorials and columns in Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, and the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Missing Pieces was led by Trace reporter Brian Freskos. Trace visual journalist Daniel Nass provided data analysis and visualizations, and contributor Max Siegelbaum added further reporting.
The Deadline Club will announce winners on May 21.