One of the most challenging aspects of writing about gun violence is finding good data. The CDC has reliable statistics on gun deaths, including accidents, suicides and homicides, but it’s historically been more difficult to find data on gun injuries or more detailed epidemiology.
In recent years, multiple states have made headlines for approving “red flag” laws or extreme risk projections orders, which allow judges to order the confiscation of firearms from people considered to be dangerous to themselves or others.
But too often, that’s where the reporting stops — right after a vote in a legislature and a governor’s signature. Two professors who study the measures urge journalists to find news by following up to see what happened next.
Law enforcement officials frequently mischaracterize perpetrators and victims of gun violence, resulting in news headlines and soundbites that sometimes obscure the toll it takes on very young people.
That was the broad message from experts on the “What exposure to chronic violence — especially among children — does to human health” panel at Reporting on Violence as a Public Health Issue: An AHCJ Summit in Chicago.
If reporters covered gun violence with greater empathy and context — including telling the story from the victims’ perspectives — instead of doing the more typical episodic reporting, it could reduce psychological harms of and potentially affect the prevalence of gun violence, said Jessica Beard, M.D., M.P.H., a trauma surgeon at Temple University Hospital.