News21 fellows spent five months researching guns. Then 29 fellows traveled to 25 states, producing the most exhaustive report ever published by News21.

About this project

Aug. 15, 2014

“Gun Wars,” an investigation of gun rights and regulations in America, is the 2014 project of the Carnegie-Knight News21 program, a national multimedia, investigative reporting project produced by the nation’s top journalism students and graduates. Each year, students selected into the program report in depth on a topic of national importance.

This year, 29 journalism students from 16 universities traveled to more than 28 states to examine the political and cultural divide between those who say the right to own and carry guns is guaranteed by the Second Amendment and those who believe firearms should be more regulated. As a result, this project showcases the voices of longtime politicians, shooting victims, militia members, rural sheriffs, hunting enthusiasts, inner-city mothers and advocacy groups on all sides of the debate.

The fellows conducted hundreds of interviews, reviewed thousands of pages of state statutes and other records and assembled nine databases that included a comprehensive analysis of child and youth gun deaths and domestic violence homicides by firearms. They also produced more photos and videos than any previous News21 project.

The student work began in January 2014 with a video-conferenced seminar that included reporting and research. In May, they began the 10-week investigative reporting fellowship based out of a newsroom at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University’s downtown Phoenix campus. News21 is supported by grants from the Carnegie Corp. of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as well as The Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation, the Hearst Foundations, the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation of Omaha, Nebraska., and Women & Philanthropy, part of ASU’s Foundation for a New American University.

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News21’s Fifth National Investigation


Executive Editor: Jacquee Petchel

Editor: Leonard Downie Jr.

Assistant Editor: Peter Bhatia

Multimedia Editor: Brandon Quester

Copy Editor: Steve Crane

Data Editors: Steve Doig, Evan Wyloge

Engagement Editor and Front-End Developer: David Ryan

PIN Bureau Chief: Rebecca Blatt

Innovations Editor: Retha Hill

Data Visualizations Editor: William Guthrie

Project Manager: Nic Lindh

Administrative Editor: Kristin Gilger


Multimedia Reporters: Claudia Balthazar, Jacob Byk, Jessica Boehm, Marlena Chertock, Jacqueline Delpilar, Emilie Eaton, Sarah Ferris, Carmen Forman, Allison Griner, Kristen Hwang, Kelsey Jukam, Robby Korth, Natalie Krebs, Jon LaFlamme, Alex Lancial, Lauren Loftus, Erin Patrick O’Connor, Jacy Marmaduke, Aaron Maybin, Wade Millward, Justine McDaniel, Brittany Morris, Kate Murphy, Jordan Rubio, Amy Slanchik, Morgan Spiehs, Sydney Stavinoha, Sam Stites, Jim Tuttle

Graphic Design and Typography: Alex Lancial

Innovation and Front-End Developer: Marlena Chertock

Gun Wars Blog Manager: Jessica Boehm

Web Team: Claudia Balthazar, Craig Cummins, Sarah Ferris, Carmen Forman, Alex Lancial, Kate Murphy, Sam Stites, Jim Tuttle

Data and Public Records: Jacob Byk, Kelsey Jukam, Robby Korth, Jon LaFlamme, Justine McDaniel, Jordan Rubio, Helen Tracy-Noren

Staff Photographers and Videographers:Jessica Boehm, Jacob Byk, Jacqueline DelPilar, Allison Griner, Kristen Hwang, Natalie Krebs, Jon LaFlamme, Alex Lancial, Aaron Maybin, Erin Patrick O’Connor, Amy Slanchik, Morgan Spiehs, Sydney Stavinoha, Sam Stites, Jim Tuttle

Sound Editing: Marlena Chertock, Alex Lancial, Aaron Maybin, Erin Patrick O’Connor, Jim Tuttle


Public Insight Multimedia Producer: Dominick DiFurio

Public Insight Network Bureau Engagement Team: Rebecca Blatt, Dominick DiFurio, Rachel Lund, Sophia Mayberry, Agnel Philip, David Ryan

Business and Finance: Sherie Casillas, Hareg Sabe, Sandy Mancilla Rannow, Catalina Monsalve



Claudia Balthazar

Hofstra University

Claudia Balthazar is a journalism graduate of Hofstra University with a concentration in political science. She is one of the 2014 National Assocation of Black Journalists’ Student Journalists of the Year. Her work has appeared in Amour Creole, Global Pentorch, Mineola Patch, Long Island Report and Find her at


Jessica Boehm

Arizona State University, Hearst Fellow

Jessica Boehm is currently pursuing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism simultaneously at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. She has been published in news outlets across Arizona as a reporter for Cronkite News Service and she interned as a local news reporter at the East Valley Tribune. Recently, she finished her honors thesis, a documentary about the health effects of nuclear radiation on Arizona citizens. Find her at


Jacob Byk

Kent State University, The Dix/Oliver Fellow

Jacob Byk is a senior photojournalism major at Kent State University with a minor in political science. He was a finalist in LUCEO’s Student Project Awards in 2013 about a coal town in Pennsylvania and won the Ohio Understanding Award for photo storytelling in 2014 for the same project. He has worked as a photo editor and photographer for the award-winning campus magazine, the Burr. He recently ventured to Estonia to report on Russian marginalization. See more work at


Marlena Chertock

University of Maryland

Marlena Chertock is a digital journalist with a passion for coding and designing interactive graphics and web apps, writing features and for social media. She graduated from the University of Maryland. Her articles have appeared in The Washington Post, USA TODAY, Education Week Teacher, WTOP and The Gazette. For News21, she wrote about constitutional sheriffs, designed and coded the project website and led the newsroom’s implementation of digital tools for reporting and diverse story formats. Find her at


Jacqueline DelPilar

University of Tennessee, The John and Patty Williams Fellow

Jacqueline DelPilar is a recent graduate of the University of Tennessee, where she majored in journalism with a minor in political science. Jacqueline has interned for Scripps Howard Foundation Wire in Washington, D.C., WTVF-TV and WATE-TV. She also served as president of her campus news station The Volunteer Channel. For News21, Jacqueline reported on guns in K-12 schools and inner-city gun violence. See more from her at


Emilie Eaton

Arizona State University, Hearst Fellow

Emilie Eaton is a student at Arizona State University who has interned at The Arizona Republic, Cronkite News Service and InMaricopa. She has reported on LGBT rights and Muslim religious identity in Istanbul, and the recent child immigration crisis in Chiapas, Mexico. Find her at


Sarah Ferris

George Washington University

Sarah Ferris is a political reporter who has worked for The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Governing Magazine and Gatehouse Media New England. She graduated from the George Washington University, where she also spent three years as an editor for the independent newspaper, The GW Hatchet. She is a native of Newtown, Connecticut. View her clips at


Carmen Forman

University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow

Carmen Forman is a journalist from Norman, Oklahoma with a passion for investigative stories, politics and good music. She graduated in December December from the University of Oklahoma with an online journalism degree and a minor in political science. She previously worked for Oklahoma Watch, The Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and was an editor at her college newspaper — The Oklahoma Daily. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


Allison Griner

University of British Columbia

Allison Griner is a multimedia journalist from Jacksonville, Florida. She received her journalism master’s degree from the University of British Columbia and has a background in anthropology. Her work has appeared in the Toronto Star, CBC Radio-Canada, the Vancouver Observer and The Chicago Reporter. See more from her on


Kristen Hwang

Arizona State University, Reynolds Fellow

Kristen Hwang is a journalism student from Redlands, California. She is majoring in journalism and Earth and environmental studies at Arizona State University. She is passionate about science writing, literary journalism and cross-country skiing. She has worked as a NASA intern at ASU and a Dow Jones News Fund intern at The Huntsville Times. Her work has appeared in Slate, The Huntsville Times, The Arizona Republic and PHOENIX magazine. Find her at


Kelsey Jukam

University of Texas-Austin

Kelsey Jukam received a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, and a bachelor’s degree in English from Southern Methodist University. She was the news editor of SMU’s paper The Daily Campus, and the travel editor for Pi Magazine at University College London. She interned at The Austin Chronicle, and her work has been published in The Dallas Morning News, The Austin American-Statesman, and Reporting Texas. Find her at


Robby Korth

University of Nebraska, Peter Kiewit Fellow

Robby Korth is a journalist who has worked in the Midwest and South. He recently graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a journalism degree and a minor in political science. He’s worked at the Omaha World-Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, Bozeman Daily Chronicle and NBC and NPR affiliates in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Find more at


Natalie Krebs

University of Texas-Austin

Natalie Krebs is a multimedia journalist who recently received her master’s in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin. She has a passion for telling stories through long-form narrative writing, radio and photo essays. She has previously worked for KUT, the NPR affiliate of Austin, Texas, and The Texas Observer. Her work is at


Jon LaFlamme

Arizona State University, Weil Fellow

Jon LaFlamme is the Weil Fellow for News 21 and a contributing investigative reporter with Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting. His work focuses on public policy, law enforcement and the environment. He graduated from Arizona State University in May with an emphasis in investigative reporting, photojournalism and documentary storytelling. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


Alex Lancial

Arizona State University, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Fellow

Alex Lancial is an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow and recent graduate from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She is an award-winning documentarian and has interned for Seed Spot: The Documentary and Arizona Highways Television. Her work has appeared on PBS, The Nation, Al Jazeera America and Know99 Television. View her portfolio at


Lauren Loftus

Arizona State University, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Fellow

Lauren Loftus is an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow and graduate student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU. Previously, she worked as a writer for a variety of outlets including blogs, radio news and travel magazines. Find her at


Jacy Marmaduke

University of Nebraska, Peter Kiewit Fellow

Jacy Marmaduke is a senior journalism and political science student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she is editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan. She has interned at the Dallas Morning News, the Grand Island Independent in Grand Island, Nebraska, and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in Little Rock, Arkansas. View her work at


Aaron Maybin

Marquette University

Aaron Maybin is a senior broadcast journalism student at Marquette University. He has worked at WABC-TV in New York, KPHO in Phoenix for the Meredith-Cronkite fellowship, WTMJ-TV in Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. For News21, he covered inner-city gun violence in Flint, Michigan, and American gun culture. Find him at


Justine McDaniel

University of Maryland

Justine McDaniel is a journalist from Santa Rosa, Calif. who received her master of journalism with an emphasis in investigative reporting from the University of Maryland in May. She has worked for the Capital News Service, McClatchy DC, Cake Central Magazine, South Sound magazine and other local outlets in California, Washington and Maryland. She graduated from the University of Puget Sound in 2012. Find her at


Wade Millward

University of Florida

Wade Millward is a reporter who has worked for The Palm Beach Post, Jacksonville Business Journal, Jacksonville Magazine and various news sources for the University of Florida. For News21, he covered Stand Your Ground, state firearm regulations and guns on college campuses. Find him at


Brittany Elena Morris

Arizona State University, Hearst Fellow

Brittany Elena Morris is a Hearst fellow for News21 and an award-winning multimedia reporter. She graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication with dual bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She also has elementary Arabic and Islamic studies certificates. She has a passion for investigative journalism with a specialization in international reporting, computer-assisted reporting and social media. Her work can be seen in The Arizona Republic, Cronkite News Service and the Cronkite Borderlands Initiative, among others. Find her at


Kate Murphy

Elon University

Kate Murphy is a journalist from Sterling, Virginia. with a passion for long-form storytelling and feature writing. She is a senior captain of the Division 1 women’s soccer team at Elon, where she also writes for The Pendulum and interned as a reporter for the Times-News. She is pursuing a career in magazine writing and sports journalism. See her work at


Erin Patrick O’Connor

Arizona State University, Ethics & Excellence in Journalism Fellow

Erin Patrick O’Connor is an award-winning documentary journalist and an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow. He graduated from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University and has interned for the Arizona Republic and NBC 12 News in Phoenix, Arizona. View his work at


Jordan Rubio

Texas Christian University

Jordan Rubio is a digital journalist with a passion for all kinds of data projects. A graduate of Texas Christian University, Jordan has worked for the San Antonio Express-News and Digital First Media. He will be working in Victoria, Texas, as a digital editor after News21. Follow him @jordan_rubio. Connect with him on LinkedIn.


Amy Slanchik

University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow

Amy Slanchik earned her journalism degree at the University of Oklahoma. She has previously interned for The Washington Times, Scripps Howard Foundation Wire and CBS News in Washington, D.C., along with KWTV in Oklahoma City. This summer Amy reported on guns in K-12 schools, guns on college campuses, and a small town in Colorado with a unique rule on guns. After News21, Amy plans to report for a local television station. Her work can be found here.


Morgan Spiehs

University of Nebraska, Peter Kiewit Fellow

Morgan Spiehs is a senior journalism student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln who specializes in photojournalism. She worked at the student newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan, as a senior photographer and photo editor. She’s interned for Northeast Nebraska News Co. and the Lincoln Journal Star in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has done documentary work in India, Brazil and Ethiopia, and her work has been recognized by the Hearst Journalism Awards Program and College Photographer of the Year. See her work at


Sydney Stavinoha

University of Oklahoma, Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow

Sydney Stavinoha, from Sugar Land, Texas, is a journalism senior at the University of Oklahoma, minoring in criminology. She’s the chair of Gaylord Ambassadors at the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where she also produces and reports for the student newscast, OU Nightly. She’s interned at SLTV 16 and is a contributing reporter for the webzine, Routes. Sydney is also a proud alumna of OU’s President’s Leadership Class. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


Sam Stites

University of Oregon

A visual and digital storyteller, Sam Stites has worked as a reporter at The Eugene-Register Guard and the Portland, Oregon, Pulitzer winning alt-weekly, Willamette Week. Sam also worked as a reporter for three years and served as editor of Emerald Media Group, the University of Oregon’s independent student media company in his senior year. Find him at


Jim Tuttle

Syracuse University

Jim Tuttle is a visual journalist from rural Pennsylvania. He got his bachelor’s degree in journalism at Penn State and worked four years as a community newspaper reporter before returning to school at Syracuse University for a master’s degree in multimedia photography and design. Prior to joining News21, he helped create a short film promoting female investigative journalists in post-war Liberia and interned with the visuals team at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. His portfolio can be seen at

News21 Staff


Jacquee Petchel

Executive Editor

Jacqueline Petchel, a longtime investigative reporter, editor and producer in newspapers and broadcast, is a professor of practice at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and executive editor of News21. She previously served as senior editor for investigations and enterprise at The Houston Chronicle. Prior to that, she worked as a reporter and editor at The Miami Herald, the Arizona Republic and the Indianapolis Star/News and produced investigative journalism for CBS television stations in Minneapolis and Miami. She is a graduate of Arizona State University and a member of Cronkite School Hall of Fame.


Len Downie Jr.

Professor and Editor

Leonard Downie is the Cronkite School’s Weil Family Professor of Journalism and vice president at large for The Washington Post, where he served as executive editor from 1991 to 2008. He is a founder and board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc. and chairman of the board of advisers of Kaiser Health News. During his 44 years at the Post, Downie was an investigative reporter, editor on the local and national news staffs, London correspondent and managing editor and helped supervise the newspaper’s Watergate coverage. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Ohio State University. At the Cronkite School, Downie teaches the News21 seminar and an accountability journalism class.


Peter Bhatia

Assistant Editor

Peter Bhatia is the Edith Kinney Gaylord Visiting Professor in Journalism Ethics at the Cronkite School. He joined the school after almost 40 years in newspaper and multimedia newsrooms. For the past 20 years, he served as editor, executive editor and managing editor of The Oregonian/Oregonian Media Group in Portland, Oregon. He previously served as editor or managing editor at four other newspapers. The newsrooms he has helped lead have been awarded nine Pulitzer Prizes, including six at The Oregonian. Bhatia has served as president of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications and president of the American Society of News Editors. He was the first journalist of South Asian descent to lead a major daily newspaper in the U.S.


Brandon Quester

Multimedia Editor

Brandon Quester is the co-founder and executive editor of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprofit accountability journalism organization based in Phoenix. He is a multimedia and investigative journalist whose work has focused on children living along the U.S.-Mexico Border, U.S. soldiers serving in Kuwait and Iraq, and the impact of immigration in Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Quester also is the owner of a photo slide show software company and he teaches photojournalism at the Cronkite School.


Steve Doig

Data Editor

Steve Doig holds the Knight Chair in Journalism at the Cronkite School, specializing in computer-assisted reporting. He had a 23-year career as a newspaper journalist, including 19 years at the Miami Herald. His investigative projects have won major journalism prizes, including the 1993 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal for Public Service. Doig is a political science graduate of Dartmouth College. He also graduated from, and later taught at, the Defense Information School and spent a year as a combat correspondent for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.


Evan Wyloge

Data Editor

Evan Wyloge covers state politics for the Arizona Capitol Times, in Phoenix. His work combines data-intensive reporting techniques with investigative and enterprise journalism. His reporting on state redistricting, lobbying expenditures and voting patterns have been recognized with top honors from state and national news associations. Wyloge earned his bachelor's degree in political science and French from Northern Arizona University, and his master's degree in journalism from Arizona State University.


Retha Hill

Innovations Editor

Retha Hill joined the Cronkite faculty in 2007 after nearly eight years at BET, where she was vice president for content for BET Interactive, the online unit of Black Entertainment Television and the most visited site specializing in African-American content on the Internet. Before joining BET, Hill was executive producer for special projects at At the New Media Innovation Lab, Hill works with students from multiple disciplines, including journalism, to research and develop new media products for media companies. She also works with Cronkite entrepreneurs who want to create digital media businesses. She is a graduate of Wayne State University and has a master’s degree from Arizona State University.


Nic Lindh

Project Manager

Nic Lindh is the Cronkite School Web master and instructional technology analyst. He built the school’s website and the site for Cronkite News, the school’s daily news website, and he helps faculty and students use technology. He also has taught graphic design at the school. Prior to coming to ASU, he worked as a writer, programmer and system administrator.


William Guthrie

Data Visualization Developer

William Guthrie is the lead developer for the New Media Innovation Lab at the Cronkite School, working with students to develop digital products and enterprises. Bill used to run platforms at The Arizona Republic and Motorola.


David Ryan

Engagement Editor and Front-End Developer

David Ryan is an undergraduate at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His past work includes an investigative reporting internship with the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, three years in the Cronkite School’s Gannett New Media Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab building digital media products and teaching web design, and internships with Forrester Research and New England Cable News. In 2009, he won the People’s Choice Webby Award for his high school news website. Find him at and on LinkedIn.


Steve Crane

Copy Editor

Steve Crane directs the Cronkite School’s Washington operations, where he runs the year-round bureau of Cronkite News Service digital and broadcast reporters. A former Washington Times political reporter and editor, he previously ran the Capital News Service at the University of Maryland, where he served as assistant dean at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism.


Kristin Gilger

Administrative Editor

Kristin Gilger is associate dean in charge of professional programs for the Cronkite School and is the chief administrator of News21, which is headquartered at the school. She was previously director of Student Media at ASU, deputy managing editor for news at The Arizona Republic, managing editor of The Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon, and served in various editing positions at the Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans. Gilger holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from the University of Nebraska. This is her fifth national News21 project.


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