Covering Guns and Gun Control

I keep an updated website on the issue of guns, ammo, gun control and legislation on  Go there for newer data, studies and story ideas.

Reporting Resources:
(From The Washington Post)

Resources from New York Times Archive

A list of resources from around the Web about veterans as selected by Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Shorenstein Center at Harvard.

Gun Control Navigator

A list of resources from around the Web about gun control as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.

Resources related to Parker v. District of Columbia


Resources Related to United States V. Miller, An Earlier interpretation of the Second Amendment

PBS’s Gun Issue Specials:

FRONTLINE: Raising Adam Lanza
PBS NewsHour: The Science of Violence & the Brain
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NOVA: Mind of a Rampage Killer
After Newtown: The Path to Violence

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After Newtown: Guns in America

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NRA’s electoral influence


How much did the NRA spend in your district in the 2010 midterm elections? See how NRA-backed candidates fared in your community.

Interactive Map

511 officers down


Have police officers been killed in your community? Learn more with our interactive map.

Interactive Map

[]How guns move across state lines

Is your state a gun importer or exporter? Where do its guns go to, and where do they come from?


[]Time to crime in Virginia

At one Virginia gun store, guns moved quickly from sales counter to crime.


Protecting themselves from the ATF

The ATF’s odyssey of trying to revoke the license of one Maryland dealer.




A city rebounds from gun, gang violence


In 2007, there were seven slayings in National City, Calif., involving guns. In the past three years there have been only three.

Mexican violence, U.S. guns


Authorities have struggled to keep U.S. firearms out of the hands of drug cartels as violence increases south of the border.

Photo Gallery

[]When cops become victims

Photos of some of the 511 police officers killed by guns since early 2000, and their families.

Photo gallery

[]Dealers on the front lines

Sellers say they work to keep guns out of the wrong hands — doing background checks and watching out for attempted “straw purchases” — but that there’s only so much they can do.


[]‘Outfitting private armies’

An ATF agent explains how Texas guns fuel Mexico’s drug war, and a killer reenacts shooting to death a Houston police officer.

Documentary Video

[]Tracing guns by hand

Staff at the ATF’s National Tracing Center fielded 300,000 requests last year.

Documentary Video

Bob’s Gun Shop

Shop owner Robert Marcus said he turns away a suspicious buyer almost every day.

Guns and Mental Health

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Guns and Suicide: New York Times

“The gun debate has focused on mass shootings and assault weapons since the schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn., but far more Americans die by turning guns on themselves. Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides, according to the most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The national suicide rate has climbed by 12 percent since 2003, and suicide is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers.

Guns are particularly lethal. Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent of cases, according to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.”


Why Mental Illness may NOT be the Biggest Issue in Gun Crimes

Despite what politicians say, the mentally ill are not the gun-firing criminals you would expect. The National Journal reports:

Perhaps most important, although people with serious mental illness have committed a large percentage of high-profile crimes, the mentally ill represent a very small percentage of the perpetrators of violent crime overall. Researchers estimate that if mental illness could be eliminated as a factor in violent crime, the overall rate would be reduced by only 4 percent. That means 96 percent of violent crimes—defined by the FBI as murders, robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults—are committed by people without any mental-health problems at all.     (also see this blog for more citations)

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Resources from Dave Kopel, Constitutional scholar:

From the archives:

Especially relevant:

  • A Principal and his Gun. How Vice Principal Joel Myrick used his handgun to stop the school shooter in Pearl, Mississippi. By Wayne Laugesen. Oct. 1999.

  • The Resistance. Teaching common-sense school protection. National Review Online, Oct. 10, 2006.

  • Arming teachers is the most realistic way to reduce school shootings. podcast. Oct. 5, 2006. MP3.

  • Pretend “Gun-free” School Zones: A Deadly Legal Fiction. 42 Connecticut Law Review 515 (2009).

  • Gun-Free Zones.” Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2007. The murders at Virginia Tech University.

  • Only press itself can stop copycats. Killers, suicides thrive on publicity given those who perpetrated earlier crimes. Rocky Mountain News/Denver Post, Sept. 23, 2006.

Congressional Testimony on Guns

US Senate Judiciary Committee testimony on gun violence. PDF. Jan. 30, 2013.

International Gun Issues

Global murder rates:  (sources UNData and the World Health Organization-2009)

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The Washington Post reported:

American gun culture is largely unique, but advocates on both sides have often pointed to the gun-control success stories (we looked at Japanese and British gun laws) as well as the countries with relatively wide gun ownership, such as Israel. But what about Switzerland?

Switzerland has the world’s third-highest number of privately held guns per person, after the United States and Yemen, an outgrowth of its unique military culture. Service is mandatory for young men, though the national military is a little bit like a collection of local militias. That militia-tinged military culture blurs the line, just a bit, between an “on duty” time, when it’s normal to carry a gun, and “off-duty”; the result is that it’s not considered crazy, as it might be in the United States, for a service member to carry his or her assault rifle home.

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The Atlantic explores how Japan rid itself of guns:

To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you’ll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don’t forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years.

Even the most basic framework of Japan’s approach to gun ownership is almost the polar opposite of America’s. U.S. gun law begins with the second amendment’s affirmation of the “right of the people to keep and bear arms” and narrows it down from there. Japanese law, however, starts with the 1958 act stating that “No person shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords,” later adding a few exceptions. In other words, American law is designed to enshrine access to guns, while Japan starts with the premise of forbidding it. The history of that is complicated, but it’s worth noting that U.S. gun law has its roots in resistance to British gun restrictions, whereas some academic literature links the Japanese law to the national campaign to forcibly disarm the samurai, which may partially explain why the 1958 mentions firearms and swords side-by-side.

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