Guns & America

Guns & America is a groundbreaking national reporting collaborative in which 10 public media newsrooms train their attention on a singular issue: the role of guns in American life.

Over the course of two years, the 10 stations, representing a diverse range of communities all over the country, will report on how guns impact us as Americans, from the cultural significance of hunting and sport shooting, to the role guns play in suicide, homicide, mass shootings and beyond.

Operating across broadcast and online platforms, the Guns & America team will approach the topic of guns with nuance, accuracy, imagination, and innovative cross-platform storytelling. Expect to see our reporting online and to hear memorable stories on a public radio station near you.

The 10 public media stations participating in Guns & America:

  • WAMU - Washington, D.C.
  • WNPR - Hartford, Connecticut
  • WUNC - Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • WABE - Atlanta
  • ideastream - Cleveland
  • KCUR - Kansas City, Missouri
  • KERA - Dallas
  • KUNC - Greeley, Colorado
  • Boise State Public Radio - Boise, Idaho
  • OPB - Portland, Oregon

The reporter for Guns & America at KUNC is Leigh Paterson.

Domestic abusers are generally prohibited from possessing firearms, but in many states, ensuring these offenders turn over their guns is difficult. A new investigator in the Denver, Colorado, District Attorney’s office is trying to change that by removing guns case-by-case.

The investigator spends his days listening to 911 calls, scanning social media and talking to family members, looking for signs that someone who has been charged with a domestic violence-related offense and who has a restraining order against them, has a gun.

Audio from a 2015 speech by Michael Bloomberg is stirring outrage over his strident defense of stop-and-frisk policing. But in the speech, the former New York City mayor and 2020 presidential candidate also makes a series of claims about gun violence that at the time were widely known to be false or even harmful.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been in a years-long fight to decrease violent gun crimes. And now, it’s targeting domestic violence abusers.

In December, Guns & America published a story looking at how Oregon’s two-year-old extreme risk protection order law was being used. The orders, known as ERPOs or “red flag laws,” allow law enforcement and family to petition a court to remove someone’s firearms if they are in danger of hurting themselves or others.

Spending on gun policy advertisements has risen sharply in recent elections, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have concluded, amid widening political divisions within the gun debate.

Over four election cycles from 2012-2018, the study, “Guns In Political Advertising Over Four US Election Cycles,” found that ads referencing guns increased from 1% of total candidate-related advertisements, to over 8% in the 2018 cycle.

The Northeast has long been home to firearm titans, but recently the region has lost out to the South and Mountain West as more and more gun businesses follow financial and cultural incentives to relocate.

And for those firearms producers still in states with gun control measures on the table, there’s increased temptation to take their business elsewhere.

Merry Jackson wanted to protect her daughter, Lori. She did the best she could. But when Lori’s husband, Scott Gellatly, stormed through the door of her parents’ home, there wasn’t much Merry could do.

“He’s here! Scott’s here!” Lori screamed upstairs to her mother, who was in bed with her twin 18-month-old grandchildren.

The United States passed an ominous milestone in 2018. According to data released in January by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a record 24,432 people died by firearm suicide in 2018.

That’s an increase of 578 from 2017 and the first time ever that more than 24,000 people have died by firearm suicide.

The CDC often takes more than a year to compile, analyze and release the data.

In its annual scorecard ranking the strength of state gun laws, the gun control advocacy group Giffords boosted ratings for a handful of states in the Midwest and West, most of which have traditionally been home to a strong gun rights culture.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released its scorecard Thursday, touting six states that received higher grades:

On January 1, 2020, Colorado joined 16 other states and the District of Columbia in having a “red flag” law, a provision that allows police to temporarily seize guns from someone deemed to be an immediate threat to themselves or others. But the new laws often don’t lay out a process for actually seizing the guns, leaving local law enforcement to figure out for themselves how to manage those confrontations.

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