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.

This year, high-profile incidents like the deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade as well as clusters of suicides among young people in communities all over the country have served as a reminder that suicide is a growing public health issue in the U.S.

Tyler Tiller and his 10-year-old daughter, Taylor, sit perched on a log overlooking a fog-encased forest below. They’re just off a mountainous dirt road in western Oregon. The sun is setting and with it, their last chance to shoot a doe this season.

Neither seems to care much. Their excursions aren’t really about hunting.

Last year’s Black Friday set the single-day record for gun background checks run — 203,086.

When you buy a gun from a federally licensed firearms dealer, they’re required to run a background check.

While there is no tally of guns sold in the U.S., there is a daily count of background check requests from the FBI and it’s generally considered the best way to measure gun sales.

If you want to know how a felon buys a gun, think about how a teenager might buy alcohol.

First, find a willing friend or family member, or maybe even a stranger at a liquor store who wants to make a quick buck. Then give this person some cash, tell them your drink of choice, and wait.

If you’re careful, this transaction — called a “straw purchase” — is impossible to detect. Clerks don’t often hassle a person over 21 who walks alone into a liquor store.

Gun violence prevention groups launched a multi-million dollar campaign to elect pro-gun control candidates across the country during this year’s midterms. Those efforts are now associated with key wins that helped Democrats retake control of the U.S. House of Representatives and could shape gun policy in the coming session.

The only statewide gun legislation on the ballot this Election Day was approved by 60 percent of Washington voters. Initiative 1639 will tighten laws on semi-automatic rifles in the state.

The new law will raise the legal age to purchase semi-automatic rifles to 21, impose a 10-day waiting period, require an annual background check and require purchasers to take a firearms training course.

In the aftermath of a mass shooting, a recurring question arises: How did the shooter get the gun?

In most cases, the perpetrator legally bought the firearms in question.

Luis Melgar, WAMU

Since 1982, there have been 114 mass shootings in the U.S.

A new kind of gun law is on the ballot in 10 Oregon counties this year. So-called “Second Amendment Preservation Ordinances” would give those county sheriffs the authority to determine if state and federal gun laws are constitutional and bar county resources from being used to enforce them.

The measures represent a new legal strategy for gun rights groups.

Colorado Wildlife Council

You might have seen the Hug-a-Hunter or Hug-an-Angler ads on TV or social media over the past year. Through both messaging and humor, the campaign aims to highlight that hunters and anglers contribute to conservation. One ad starts by explaining that when someone buys a hunting license, some of that money goes to conservation, like restoring forests and protecting wildlife.

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