Guns & America | KUNC

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.

As a Jeep drove into a crowd of anti-police violence protesters seeking to shut down a busy highway in Aurora, Colorado, gunshots rang out.

No one was hit by the Jeep, according to police, but two protesters were struck by gunfire and ended up at local hospitals.

On a muggy July evening in Durham, North Carolina, a black sedan pulled up to a party. Men got out of what police believe to be a Chevrolet Impala and opened fire on the partygoers gathered in the front yard.

Two young children, ages 8 and 4, were injured in the attack.

Later that night, another shooting — possibly related, according to police — took place at a Durham public housing development about five miles away. A stray bullet flew into an adjacent apartment unit, killing a 12-year-old boy.

Thieves stole more than 1,000 firearms from gun stores across the country in just over one week this spring, according to the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives. The ATF says thefts of gun stores are on the rise.

To put that in perspective, that haul between May 28-June 5 would have accounted for nearly one-fifth of the roughly 5,600 guns reported stolen in all of 2019.

Thomas Chittum, ATF deputy director for field operations, says a lot of that appears to be tied to unrest around the country in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd.

Do Safe Storage Gun Laws Prevent Gun Violence?

Jul 13, 2020

This article is part of the Guns & America explainer series. You can read other entries here.

Left unsecured, guns can be dangerous. While many experts suggest that storing firearms locked away and separate from ammunition can save lives, there is no federal law requiring gun owners to do so.

Steven Weiss was protesting in front of the Multnomah County Justice Center. It was June 19, three weeks into near-nightly protests against systemic racism and police violence. Those protests routinely culminated each night with police resorting to violence to disperse hundreds of nonviolent protesters.

The recent wave of civil unrest against police brutality after the killing of George Floyd highlights the increased militarization of American law enforcement — including for officers on college campuses.

The coronavirus pandemic appears to have helped spur an increase in gun sales. New preliminary research suggests those additional sales could be linked to higher rates of gun violence.

Armed counterprotesters have confronted anti-racism rallies in at least 33 states, according to a new analysis by Guns & America.

Gun sales continued to mushroom in June, apparently due to a confluence of Joe Biden’s surge in polls, the spread of COVID-19, and ongoing protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Americans bought 2.4 million firearms in June, according to industry estimates from Small Arms Analytics & Forecasting. That is a 145% increase from June 2019. Handgun sales make up the bulk of those estimates and increased at an even higher year-over-year rate of 178%.

At anti-racism rallies and marches across the country, protesters are coming face to face with police — but also with heavily armed civilians. America’s gun laws make it difficult to diffuse the tension.

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