Stories

The IRE Resource Center is a major research library containing more than 27,000 investigative stories.

Most of our stories are not available for download but can be easily ordered by contacting the Resource Center directly at 573-882-3364 or [email protected] where a researcher can help you pinpoint what you need.

Search results for "weapons" ...

  • Guns in Airports, Passengers Packing Heat

    2018 set a record for people trying to carry guns through airport TSA checkpoints. 4,239 guns were found in carry-on bags at airports across the country, that’s 12 guns every day. 86% of those guns were loaded. Our 11-month investigation focused on who was attempting to take firearms through security checkpoints and examined why there has been such a sharp increase in the numbers of weapons found in airports in recent years.
  • The Henry Pratt Mass Shooting

    On the afternoon of Feb. 15, disgruntled warehouse employee Gary Martin opened fire during a termination hearing at the Henry Pratt Co. in Aurora, Ill., killing five people and wounding several police officers before being fatally shot by law enforcement. Before police publicly identified Martin, the Tribune learned his name from sources and began investigating his background. One thing quickly became clear: Martin, a convicted felon who had served prison time for attempting to kill his girlfriend, never should have been allowed to purchase the gun used in the shooting. This discovery – aided by carefully worded Freedom of Information Act requests, unparalleled sourcing and a review of extensive court records – prompted the Illinois State Police to disclose hundreds of pages of documents related to Martin’s firearms license and gun purchase within days of the shooting. It was an unprecedented release of information, in terms of both expediency and subject manner. Illinois law expressly prohibits the disclosure of records related to firearm owner’s identification cards or concealed carried permits, but Tribune reporters were able to convince law-enforcement officials that Martin’s firearms history should be exempt from such protections because he fraudulently obtained his license by lying on his permit application. Upon receiving this information, reporters submitted further FOIAs in an effort to understand the depths of the state’s problem. A reporting project that started within hours of a mass shooting grew into an investigation that found 34,000 Illinois had their gun permits revoked – and that the state has no idea what happen to their guns. That meant 78 percent of people stripped of their gun licenses failed to account for their weapons. The responsive records – some of which required difficult fights and keen sourcing to obtain - exposed serious flaws in the national databases relied upon to conduct criminal background checks, as well as the state’s failure to ensure that people surrender their weapons after their Firearm Owner's Identification cards are revoked. In an analysis of data released for the first time, the Tribune found as many as 30,000 guns may still be in possession of people deemed too dangerous to own firearms. The Tribune also was able to create an online-lookup that allowed readers to look up how many people in their town had their gun permits stripped, the reason for the revocation and how many times that person had made a serious inquiry about purchasing a gun.
  • Easy Targets

    There are some sixty-three thousand licensed gun dealers in the U.S.—nearly twice the number of McDonald’s and Starbucks combined. But, unlike other businesses that deal in dangerous products, such as pharmacies or explosives makers, most gun stores face no legal requirements to secure their merchandise. As a result, there has been a sharp increase in gun-store thefts. This story focuses on a group of thieves who preyed on gun stores in North Carolina, stealing more than two hundred weapons over a four-month period. The Trace and The New Yorker relied on thousands of public records and more than fifty interviews to track these guns through a network of black-market profiteers.
  • Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons

    The first reported cases of Lyme disease surfaced in 1968; a half century later, CDC scientists believe there could be more than 300,000 new cases in the US every year. As this and other debilitating tick-borne diseases continue to spread, their origins have remained elusive. Some believe global warming is fueling the epidemic, others attribute it to human migration. But the fundamental question persists: where did Lyme disease come from? This mystery prompted Stanford University science writer and Lyme disease survivor Kris Newby to launch an investigation that led her to startling discoveries linking the outbreak to America’s clandestine biological warfare program. In BITTEN: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons (Harper Wave; May 14, 2019; ISBN: 978-006-289-6278; 352 pages; $26.99)—a riveting work of scientific reportage and biography that reads like a thriller—Newby reveals the story of Willy Burgdorfer, the man who discovered the microbe behind the disease, and his role in covering up evidence that could implicate another tick- borne organisms in the original outbreak.
  • Yemen's War: Made in America

    When a Saudi air strike hit a school bus in August killing 40 children, CNN’s Nima Elbagir was ahead of her competitors in covering the event from London using footage and information from a cadre of carefully vetted Yemen-based journalists. Using this local network, and with the consultation of weapons experts, Nima and her team proved the bomb used in the attack was US-made. Then they went further and obtained exclusive access to documentation on a string of other civilian bombings in Yemen, proving that in many cases the rain of death in Yemen is made in America.
  • The Texas Observer with The Investigative Fund: The Surge

    If Texas’s border counties have some of the lowest crime rates in the nation, why are they so heavily policed? As Melissa del Bosque shows, the State of Texas has gone all in on border security spending, devoting $2.6 billion to special-ops teams, armored gunboats, high-tech spy planes, and a surge of law enforcement personnel in the past several years — on top of a multibillion-dollar federal border security operation. For her piece for The Texas Observer, in partnership with The Investigative Fund, del Bosque interviewed residents and elected officials in these border counties, now among the most profiled and surveilled communities in America, who described how this two-fisted border security buildup has taken a toll on their civil liberties. In a separate analysis, Del Bosque joins with reporter G.W. Schulz to uncover how Texas's $15 million high-altitude spy planes have surveilled one border town at least 357 times and may have traveled multiple times into Mexican territory.
  • Direkt36: Russian arms dealers

    Two Russian arms dealers operating in Hungary, Vladimir Lyubishin Sr. and Jr., were apprehended as a result of a U.S. DEA sting operation in late 2016. The Lyubishins wanted to supply a Mexican drug cartel with weapons to protect shipments of cocaine against US authorities and rival gangs. In reality, the Russians were negotiating with paid DEA informants. After the arrests, however, the Lyubishins managed to escape US justice thanks to Hungary’s Kremlin-friendly government as Hungary denied Washington’s request for extradition and sent the two arms dealers to Moscow instead. The operation as well as the extradition scandal was kept secret and was first revealed by my story.
  • AP: Cops Sell Guns

    After a year’s worth of work, the AP found that law enforcement agencies in Washington state sold about 6,000 guns that had been confiscated during criminal investigations, and more than a dozen of those firearms later became evidence in new investigations. The weapons were used to threaten people, seized at gang hangouts, discovered in drug houses, possessed illegally by convicted felons, found hidden in a stolen car, taken from a man who was suffering a mental health crisis and used by an Army veteran to commit suicide.
  • ADG: Violent Reality

    Since 1999, more than 8,000 Arkansans have died by gunfire — about half of them suicides. Although many law enforcement officials and legislators say that gun-control laws might work, they are unwilling to act. The stories explore the effect of specific laws on gun violence in other states, suicide-prevention advocates' work with gun sellers to keep weapons out of suicidal individuals' possession, and federal law enforcement's efforts to keep guns out of the hands of felons.
  • 60 Minutes: War Crime

    60 MINUTES has obtained rare video of a 2017 sarin gas attack on Syrian civilians that drew a 59-missile response by the U.S. military last year. The disturbing high definition video, shown publically for the first time, exposes the horrors of these internationally banned weapons, that the Syrian Dictator Bashar al-Assad continues to use to massacre his own people.