John DiedrichMilwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Diedrich investigated the full extent of firearm deaths in Wisconsin and the efforts put in place to prevent them. 

Marquette students Alexandra Rivera Grant and Ben Schultz collaborated with Diedrich on the series. Their extensive data work on this series was awarded Marquette's James Scotton Award for Excellent in Data-Driven Journalism. Rivera Grant and Schultz also led an in-depth, intimate conversation with community members who shared their experiences with gun violence and safety.

The first installment of the series was published in August 2023. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story features a Wisconsin gun store owner and the statewide efforts to address suicide rates. Last year, gun suicides topped 500 in Wisconsin, which is in line with record numbers across the country.

The second installment, which consists of eight stories, was published in October 2023. One story addressed the complexities of the firearms deaths in Wisconsin. When reviewing the state data of gunshot deaths, Diedrich found suicide to be a "missing piece." The analysis also revealed the epicenter of these deaths is in Wisconsin's rural counties and the rates have grown the fastest in the state's suburban counties. 

In another story, Diedrich revealed the difficulities of collecting gun death data in Wisconsin's smaller counties because the data is never released. To close the gap, the team collected and analyzed data extracted from records provided by every county in the state but one - a first-of-its-kind effort.

The second installment also included stories in which community members shared personal experiences with suicide and how it led them to help others. 

The third part in the series reported on survey findings of gun owners and explored why people carry or purchase guns.

Here are the full credits for "Behind the Gun":

Contributing reporter: Natalie EilbertAlex Rivera Grant, Ben Schultz

Data analysis, graphics: Andrew Hahn, Daphne Chen, Kevin Crowe, Eva Wen

Photos, video: Mike De Sisti, Bill Schulz

Story editing: Greg Borowski

Photo editing: Sherman Williams, Berford Gammon

Copy editing: Ray Hollnagel, Pete Sullivan

Design: Kyle Slagle

Social media: Ridah Syed

Works published to date:

August 23, 2023
A record 530 people died by firearm suicide in Wisconsin last year. These gun stores hope to change that.

October 26, 2023
Gun deaths are rising in Wisconsin. Suicide and rural areas are a big part of the picture.

Explore gun death data in Wisconsin by county, 2004-2020

A Democrat and gun rights supporter, Manitowoc coroner Curt Green supports restrictions

Wisconsin gun shop owner Dan Marcon was close to suicide. Now he helps others.

Suicide hits gun owners hard, but few were talking about it – until an industry insider began

Her son ended his life with a gun. Drive to her knees, she found hope.

Ready for the call: Former soldier Mike Aschinger helps veteras in their darkest moments

Gun deaths in Wisconsin are hard to track. How our team approached this first-of-its-kind effort.

Could we say something new about gun deaths and bring hope? A reporter's notebook

December 6, 2023

Poll of Wisconsin gun owners shows more are getting guns for self-defense, three in five keep them locked

He carried a gun as a teen, protecting a Milwaukee drug dealer. Today, he teaches gun safety.

Wary of anti-LGBTQ+ violence, Christine Joyce Brown sees guns as vital protection

Waukesha mom Emily Schmuki didn't carry a gun. Now she does. Here's why.

This Wisconsin gun owner has a concealed carry permit but rarely carries. He's not alone.