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For more than a year, the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism has examined hundreds of state purchasing agreements, for everything from heavy crime-fighting equipment to consumables for laser printers. Along the way, we also teamed up with MuckRock and the Emerson College Engagement Lab.

Of the many contracts that have caught our attention, those stemming from firearms purchases have proven to be especially dubious, with entities on all sides operating in an unchecked fashion. For most of these procurements, there was no competitive bidding. And the process is far from transparent.

So far, we have produced one feature and a follow-up based on our research and public information requests. If you want to help us with the next leg of this investigation, we ask that you check these articles out first:


  • FIRE SALE PT. 1: Even for weapons dealers who have flouted state laws, there is major money to be made by selling munitions to police in Massachusetts


  • FIRE SALE PT. 1 ½: Digging deeper into the abyss of reckless unchecked state spending on guns and ammo


So, here is how you can participate …

With help from our partners at MuckRock and Document Cloud, we are posting (and will continue uploading) a variety of documents we have unearthed in our reporting process—from internal emails between vendors and state-side purchasers, to purchase orders and contracts, to policies and guidelines, to studies, to memos.

Now we need your help to sort through all this stuff. It’s not easy—for example, Mass State Police redact the descriptions and quantities of weapons it buys. But if you look through the documents, you will find the places where they forgot to black out the text. There’s juicy stuff as well—in one case, we found a state trooper mocking the attorney general in an email with a gun seller; more recently, we came across this report, in which a Fall River district attorney found that a man stunned by police there died of natural causes shortly after.

Thanks to MuckRock, we are excited to announce that you—readers, community members, reporters, anyone—can dig through all these documents along with us by simply clicking onto this portal. If there is something that you think is worth pointing out on a particular page, you can flag and annotate it on the left-hand side. If nothing piques your interest, you can skip to the next one.



We will be combing through all your notes along with ours, and updating you here at and on social media. We appreciate your assistance, and look forward to continuing our investigation with help from the public. For any further questions about the project, please contact BINJ Editorial Director Chris Faraone (email:



A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.

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