The Morning: Mapping gun violence

The New York Times <>

2024-05-15 12:25

Plus, Israel, sextortion scams and OpenAI’s library.
The Morning

May 15, 2024

Good morning. Today, my colleague Robert Gebeloff is writing about gun violence data. We’re also covering Israel, sextortion scams and OpenAI’s library. —David Leonhardt

A map shows fatal shootings in and around Philadelphia from 2020 through 2023. Areas in red had the most shootings.
Source: Gun Violence Archive | Data from 2020-2023. | By The New York Times

Tracking Violence

Author Headshot

By Robert Gebeloff

Data reporter

As Covid swept the United States, another epidemic took hold: Americans shot one another at the fastest pace since the 1990s.

To document the toll, we plotted every fatal shooting on a map and then compared the four pandemic years with the four years that came before. Not only were more people killed, we found, but the boundaries of where these killings took place expanded. By the end of last year, one in seven Americans lived within a quarter mile of a recent fatal shooting, up from one in nine before the pandemic.

A map shows the change in fatal shootings in and around Philadelphia from 2016 to 2019 and 2020 to 2023. Some blocks that previously had a high number of shootings got worse during the pandemic, and shootings spread to areas that previously had none.
Source: Gun Violence Archive | By The New York Times

Why did shootings surge during the pandemic? Americans bought more guns, turning violent disputes more deadly. They also used more drugs, leading to more violent conflicts. School buildings closed, and once-busy streets emptied. Gangs became more active. And after George Floyd’s murder, reform measures and criticism of the police led some departments to pull back from enforcement.

We have been able to tell the story of gun violence more granularly with data from the Gun Violence Archive — neighborhood by neighborhood, instead of city by city. The analysis, which The Times published today, found:

  • The violence spread in cities nationwide. One area of downtown Austin, Texas, famous for its thriving nightlife saw 17 shootings during the pandemic years, up from six in the four years before. In Everett, Wash., a smaller city where gun violence had been rare, a series of shootouts involved young people.
  • The shootings got worse in dangerous neighborhoods, too. The Kensington section of Philadelphia was already one of the most violent places in the United States. One block of 167 residents had 24 fatal shootings in the four years before the pandemic. In the four years that followed, there were 64.
  • A citywide homicide rate offers an incomplete picture, because the effects of violence are felt unevenly. One-quarter of Chicago residents lived in neighborhoods with four or more shootings during the pandemic years, while one-third lived in areas where there were no fatal shootings nearby.

If you explore our interactive, you’ll see that different racial groups experience different levels of gun violence. African Americans and Latinos tend to live in neighborhoods that are far more violent than those of white Americans.

A chart shows the racial demographics of neighborhoods with zero, one or more, four or more, and 10 or more shootings.
Sources: Gun Violence Archive; U.S. Census Bureau | By The New York Times

While the homicide rate is falling in many cities, it has not returned to prepandemic levels. And it is still up from its low point in the middle of the last decade.

A chart shows gun homicide victims per 100,000 people in the United States from 1990 to 2023. After a spike during the pandemic, gun murders are still at their highest levels since the 1990s.
Source: C.D.C. | The rate for 2023 is estimated using Gun Violence Archive data. | By The New York Times

Enter your address here to see how gun violence has affected your neighborhood. You may be surprised by what you find.


Trump on Trial

Donald Trump sits at a desk in a courtroom, flanked by two lawyers.
Donald Trump  Pool Photo by Mark Peterson
  • At Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial, his lawyer sought to portray Michael Cohen as obsessed with his former boss and driven by self-interest and spite.
  • The defense asked Cohen about his public criticisms of Trump, including his suggestion that Trump belonged in jail. Cohen mostly kept his composure. “Sounds like something I would say,” he answered.
  • Cohen testified that he and Trump discussed the hush-money reimbursements in the Oval Office and that the checks were disguised as legal fees. That contention is key to the prosecutors’ case.
  • Trump’s political allies — including Speaker Mike Johnson — defended him outside the courthouse. Johnson called the trial a “sham” and criticized Cohen.
  • For the public, getting a seat in court was competitive. Some people lined up overnight. One woman paid $750 for a line sitter, saying, “It’s better than a Broadway show.”

2024 Elections

  • Angela Alsobrooks, a Democratic county official in Maryland, will face Larry Hogan, the state’s Republican former governor, for a U.S. Senate seat this fall.
  • Gov. Jim Justice won the West Virginia Republican Senate primary, positioning him to flip the seat that Joe Manchin, a Democrat, is vacating.
  • Sarah Elfreth, Maryland’s youngest female state senator, won the Democratic primary in a deep-blue U.S. House district, defeating Harry Dunn, a former Capitol Police officer who was on duty during the Jan. 6 attack.
  • William Davis for president: In an experiment, The Times added the name of its polling editor to a list of third-party candidates. He received almost 2 percent of the vote.

War in Ukraine

Men in black uniforms stand at attention, with green military vehicles in the background.
A military parade in Moscow.  Nanna Heitmann for The New York Times

Israel-Hamas War

  • The Biden administration told Congress that it intends to sell more than $1 billion in new weapons to Israel.
  • Israeli military leaders have voiced frustration with Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to develop a plan to govern Gaza after the war.
  • Israel directed many Palestinians in Rafah to a “humanitarian zone.” Satellite imagery shows that the zone is overcrowded and damaged by strikes.


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stands at a lectern.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Gregor Fischer/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong, will step down today after 20 years. He oversaw the city-state’s rise to prosperity.
  • China deployed dozens of ships in the South China Sea to block a Philippine flotilla of small fishing boats. The Filipinos were protesting China’s control of a shoal.
  • YouTube, in compliance with a court order, will block users in Hong Kong from viewing a democracy anthem, “Glory to Hong Kong.”


  • Armed attackers ambushed a prison convoy northwest of Paris, killed two guards and freed an inmate.
  • Orcas sank another boat near the Strait of Gibraltar. The animals’ activity has plagued sailors and intrigued marine biologists.

Other Big Stories

  • Scammers pretending to be women coerce young men into sending nude images of themselves, then demand money. Some teenagers have killed themselves as a result.
  • A group of TikTok creators, including a rancher and a skin care entrepreneur, sued the U.S. government over its plan to either ban the app or force its sale.
  • The ship that toppled a Baltimore bridge after losing power had at least two electrical failures before it left port.
  • Alice Munro, whose psychologically dense short stories dazzled the literary world and earned her a Nobel Prize, died at 92.


A.I. is overrated: Companies are spending billions on improvements to mediocre email writing instead of on educated workers, Julia Angwin writes.

Teenagers’ social media feeds are flooded with mental health awareness videos. It’s making their anxiety worse, Lucy Foulkes argues in Opinion Video.

Here are columns by Bret Stephens on a future Palestinian state, and Thomas Edsall on sympathy for authoritarianism.

A subscription to match the variety of your interests.

News. Games. Recipes. Product reviews. Sports reporting. A New York Times All Access subscription covers all of it and more. Subscribe today.


Book shelves in a dimly-lit library.
In San Francisco. Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

‘American Prometheus’ and ‘The Iliad’: Inside OpenAI’s offices is an old-fashioned library stocked with books chosen by employees. See what’s on the shelves.

Evil fruit: When tomatoes arrived in Europe 500 years ago, many considered them dangerous. Now they define Italy’s cuisine.

Can you lose your native tongue? After moving to Paris, a writer found that her French got better — and her English got worse.

Spoiler: Meat doesn’t last as long in the fridge as you might think.

Ask Well: I was prescribed a long-term antibiotic. Is that safe?

Lives Lived: The saxophonist David Sanborn was best known as a jazz musician, but he also enlivened records by Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen and others. “Real musicians don’t have any time to spend thinking about limited categories,” Sanborn once said. He died at 78.


N.B.A.: The Denver Nuggets are one win away from the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves. And the New York Knicks’ Jalen Brunson scored 44 points in his team’s win over the Indiana Pacers.

W.N.B.A.: The Indiana Fever lost to the Connecticut Sun. Caitlin Clark scored 20 points in her professional debut for the Fever but also struggled with 10 turnovers.


David Alan Grier applauds Justice Smith, who is holding a small gold trophy.
Justice Smith, left, and David Alan Grier in “The American Society of Magical Negroes.” Tobin Yelland/Focus Features

The late 2010s seemed to usher in a new golden age of Black satire, with films like “Get Out” and “Sorry to Bother You” offering complex characters. But more recent entries in the genre haven’t kept pace, the Times culture critic Maya Phillips argues. The problem, she writes, is that these newer movies — including “American Fiction” and “The American Society of Magical Negroes” — are too focused on white guilt, which oversimplifies Black characters.

More on culture

A red-hued portrait of King Charles III in formal military dress.
King Charles III Jonathan Yeo/, via Buckingham Palace, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


An image of tofu covered in a red sauce, topped with cilantro, peppers and peanuts.
Kelly Marshall for The New York Times

Make spicy kung pao tofu.

Listen to African guitar greats.

Wear a comfortable bra.

Get a deal on a graduation gift.


Here is today’s Spelling Bee. Yesterday’s pangrams were dehumidified and humidified.

And here are today’s Mini Crossword, Wordle, Sudoku, Connections and Strands.

Thanks for spending part of your morning with The Times. See you tomorrow.

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