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.

Columbine High School
Leigh Paterson / KUNC

It looks a lot like any other high school: blue lockers, fluorescent overhead lights, kids carrying musical instruments and gym bags.

But Columbine High School's history as a site of a deadly school shooting sets it apart. Some of the changes are physical — the building has a new library to replace the old one, where a majority of the students were killed that day. Now, a plaque is mounted at the library's entrance, dedicated to the 13 victims.

Evan Todd
Leigh Paterson / KUNC

Evan Todd still has sharp memories of April 20, 1999. As a sophomore at Columbine High School, he was in the library with his friends on that cool, sunny morning, attempting to write a paper but really just goofing off, throwing around wads of paper.

In an instant everything changed. Todd described an explosion, smoke, and then pops of gunfire echoing through the hallways. He felt a rush of adrenaline as panic set in around him.

Public health researchers across the U.S. are eager to find possible solutions to gun violence. Gun ownership data helps researchers study how guns are used in various crimes and could reveal opportunities for preventing firearm-related deaths. But there is no federal registration requirement for guns. And without concrete numbers of gun ownership, how can researchers pin down the problem?

The answer: They use alternative measurements to get a handle on the data.

Multiple states missed a March 25 deadline to submit plans for bulking up the information states report to the FBI’s background check system for gun purchases.

This comes a year after President Donald Trump signed legislation requiring states and federal agencies to add more records to the database gun dealers use when running a background check during a gun purchase.

Teachers or other school staff in districts in 31 states can legally carry weapons in schools, according to a review of state laws and local news coverage by Guns & America.

In 5 states — Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Texas and South Dakota — teachers or other school staff are explicitly authorized by state law to carry firearms in schools, according to a report by the Education Commission of the States.

States across the country are passing gun control legislation in response to mass shootings, as groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America gain political clout. In deep red states, though, activists must both temper their expectations and reckon with residents and lawmakers often hostile to any limitations on their right to bear arms.

Young Voices Across The Country Lead The Conversation After March For Our Lives

Mar 20, 2019
Tay Anderson
Leigh Paterson / KUNC

In the year since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, young people have brought gun issues to the forefront of our national consciousness like never before.

One year ago, weeks of conversations, walkouts and student action culminated in March For Our Lives events in Washington, D.C., and across the country.

Standing in the master bathroom of his Bend, Oregon, home, Brennan Pebbles is describing the night a home intruder shot a rifle through his front window, killed his roommate, and then hunted him through his house.

After the first shot came through his living room window, Pebbles ran upstairs, grabbed his 9 mm handgun and hid in the bathroom.

He remembers hearing the broken glass crunching as the shooter made his way up the stairs looking for him.

“That to me was the moment where I was like, ‘Oh God, this is, this is life or death right now,'” recalled Pebbles.

After months of silence, the Connecticut Supreme Court reinstated a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of nine victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting against Remington Arms, the manufacturer of the rifle used in the shooting.

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