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Dispatches: Our Ongoing Coverage of Gun Violence

News and notes from Pacific Standard staff and contributors.
Semi-automatic rifles are seen for sale in a gun shop in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 4th, 2017.

On Wednesday, a young man strode into Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school carrying an AR-15 rifle and gunned down 17 people. Videos, pictures, and text messages from students trapped inside the school spread quickly through social media. The harrowing images illustrated the jarring fear felt by teenagers who hid and hoped while an armed assailant roamed the halls.

An outpouring of shock and outrage soon followed. A reaction that, as contributing editor Jared Keller wrote on Thursday, has become its own vicious cycle of inaction and helplessness. This is because these incidents are becoming more common, not less. This is the 18th school shooting in 2018, and is added to the list of deadly mass shootings including Sandy Hook, Sutherland Springs, Pulse Nightclub, Las Vegas, Charleston, and others.

INSIDE THE MIND OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE GUN RESEARCHER: John Lott is a one-man pro-gun research machine whose work has been cited nearly 200 times by the National Rifle Association. The problem? Many of his peers have major misgivings about his methods.

Pacific Standard has long covered issues around gun violence, the lax culture that has fed into their ubiquity, and sensible gun reforms. In order to participate in the discourse, access to reliable information is crucial. After all, there is a lot of misinformation that makes its way into the discussion. Just last we June, we profiled discredited gun researcher John Lott, who recently appeared on the New York Times' op-ed pages.

Pro-gun lobbyists will continue to pump cash into campaign funds to keep legislators at bay. And their position is not strictly partisan, as some might think, as there are those on the far-left who push back against the idea of increased gun control. Florida lawmakers, for example, recently pushed for less gun control in public spaces. Many have pointed to Australia's notable success in curbing gun violence, but the country's ambassador to the United States had words of caution about the difficulty of applying lessons from abroad here at home.

The conversation will never be an easy one due to the fact that gun culture is so ingrained in our society, and in the wake of tragedy there will always be people trumpeting the "it's too soon to talk about gun reform" line in order to kick the can down the road. But through the lens of our coverage of this issue over the years, it's evident that it's not "too soon" to have this conversation, as it's one that is long overdue.

This dispatch originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of