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.

Almost every morning in January and February, Patrick Parsons records a live Facebook video across the street from the Georgia capitol.

While it looks picturesque online, in person, it’s not the world’s most glamorous moment.

“I’ll probably go over there by the trash can, which is where I usually do it,” said Parsons, laughing. It’s easier to fit the gold dome of the capitol building into the frame from there.

From Banned To Beloved: The Rise Of The AR-15

Feb 27, 2019

Jim Corbet was a building contractor with way more free time than business in 2011, as the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis took hold in his hometown of McCall, Idaho.

Corbet was also an amateur machinist and firearms enthusiast and he noticed fellow shooters gravitating toward one semi-automatic rifle in particular – the AR-15. So he set up shop in his garage and started tinkering with designs.

Almost 25 years to the day after the Brady Bill first mandated background checks for some gun sales, House Democrats and a handful of Republicans just voted to require background checks on all gun sales.

The House had not voted on major gun legislation since 1994, when it passed the 10-year ban on so-called assault weapons.

Mateo and Caleb
Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC, North Carolina Public Radio

Lockdown drills have become increasingly common in schools across the United States. Though drills differ from school to school, they usually require students to crouch in a corner of their darkened classroom, away from the door, and stay quiet until the teacher says it is okay to start talking again. Students start practicing these drills as early as pre-school, before they can truly understand what threat they are hiding from.

The day in 2012 that a gunman killed 27 people and then himself in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, he didn’t just use a semi-automatic rifle. The shooter had an array of handguns, shotguns and rifles, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting shocked the nation, spurring new conversations about banning so-called assault weapons and magazines that could hold dozens of rounds.

Leigh Paterson / KUNC

Flanked by sheriffs and gun safety advocates, Democratic lawmakers unveiled an extreme risk protection order bill — a measure aimed at reducing gun violence — at a press conference at the state Capitol on Wednesday.

"We're on the clock right now folks," Rep. Tom Sullivan (D), whose son was killed in the Aurora theater shooting, said. "... If we keep talking about it, people are going to keep dying and this is a simple thing to do to save lives."

Just because districts choose not to arm teachers with guns doesn’t mean they intend for them to simply hide if an active shooter enters a school. Some Maryland school districts are taking steps to train teachers to defend themselves in other ways.

Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) officials call their new strategy for responding to active shooter threats a “lockdown with options.” The school district near Washington, D.C., is training teachers to not only hide in a classroom when an assailant arrives, but to also flee or fight.

After the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, government investigators and contractors who process firearms dealer and special weapons licenses are staring at an application backlog that likely runs into the tens of thousands. As the possibility of another shutdown looms, so, too, does the the likelihood of that backlog increasing exponentially.

When an attempt to carry out a gun removal in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County left a man dead last November, opponents of the state’s red flag law were incensed.

“Whatever you may think of red flag laws, they should not be death sentences. And they were in the case of Gary Willis,” said Mark Pennak, an attorney and president of the gun rights organization Maryland Shall Issue.

Sandy Hook. Parkland. Santa Fe.

If it seems like school shootings are becoming more common, there is some data to support that.

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