Dear reader,

The second major mass shooting in 10 days was the deadliest school shooting since Sandy Hook. Both added to a pandemic surge in gun violence that’s killed about 5 people every hour and made firearms the leading cause of death for children one and older. 

Only in our country do we have to catalog such horrors, do we have to face the staggering scale of the crisis and all the individual suffering and loss it creates. 

Gun violence has complex causes, but one thing I’ve been struck by is how often The Trace’s journalists have connected mass shootings to specific choices that policymakers have made. Data shows that nearly one out of every 5 gun homicides is committed by an 18- to 20-year old, but nonetheless, federal law allows 18-year-olds — including the Buffalo and Uvalde gunmen — to purchase assault-style rifles. The ATF has allowed devices that turn those rifles and some handguns into de facto machine guns to flood the market, leading to mass shootings where assailants have sprayed more than a 100 or even upwards of 1,000 rounds into crowds of people. Yet another under-regulated product extends the U.S.’s already ample arsenal of deadly firepower by allowing shooters to wield a powerful, concealable AR-15 style pistol, the weapon of choice of two other mass shooters. The government canceled an apparent effort to restrict the devices following Republican opposition

It’s human if stories like these make you burn with rage. Then you turn to the next story, and it brings you to tears. These stories are hard to read, hard for our journalists to write and edit, and of course are by far the hardest on the loved ones and survivors who chose to share what gun violence has taken from them. But it’s also vital to memorialize the personal toll of gun violence. It is important to be reminded that the terrible statistics represent someone’s kid, someone’s student or classmate, someone’s fellow worshiper or business partner or neighbor

It’s also important, especially when the path forward is unclear, to understand that the situation is not hopeless. Through our work, The Trace has learned that there are no easy fixes to gun violence — but also that progress is possible and that life-saving, evidence-backed tools do exist. We make a point to include potential solutions in our coverage because when people understand all that can be done, they are empowered to hold their leaders accountable for failing to build a safer, more just country for everyone. 

As a nonprofit news organization, The Trace relies on readers to help us achieve our mission. By following our work, you’ve committed to creating a more informed, and more effective, response to gun violence. And at the end of this devastating week, we are so thankful for that. 

With gratitude, 

James Burnett
Managing Director | Founding Editor

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