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.

Many advocates and politicians push universal background checks on gun purchases as a way to decrease gun violence. But researchers at Johns Hopkins University say there’s a more effective solution to preventing homicide and suicide: requiring a license to purchase a handgun.

Smart guns, also known as “personalized guns,” use technology like fingerprint readers or radio frequency identification (RFID) to let only authorized users unlock the gun and fire it.

New research shows many gun owners aren’t interested in purchasing them.

Expanding The Market

Researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research found 48% of the gun owners surveyed had heard of smart guns.

Ramon Amoureux has been in the gun business for decades and through a lot of elections. And, as he knows well, his bottom line shifts with the political winds.

“Gun sales are based on politics in many ways,” Amoureux said. “And prices are based on politics, unfortunately.”

Firearms sales are sluggish these days and, strangely enough, you can probably blame one of the most pro-gun presidents America has seen.

When a heavily armed gunman stormed his former place of work and fatally shot 12 people in Virginia Beach, Virginia, last week, he was just the latest example of workplace killers taking personal and professional grievances out on one-time colleagues.

While incidents of mass violence of any kind are rare, experts worry workplace violence is a persistent problem and may be on the rise.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Tuesday called a special legislative session on gun violence, citing last week’s deadly mass shooting that claimed 12 lives.

At this year’s National Rifle Association annual meeting, President Donald Trump invited some special guests on stage. The first was a young mother from Virginia, April Evans.

“One night in 2015 she was alone with her two-year-old daughter when an intruder broke into her home violently,” said Trump.

“April took care of it.”

The crowd swooned.

The first time Clevelander Robert Woodard saw someone who had been shot, it was overwhelming.

“So me running to the scene and me getting there and them bleeding and I’m just as hysterical as them,” Woodard remembered. “It’s like, ‘Wow, what do I do?’ I have no tools. I have no anything.”

So last summer Woodard, a violence prevention worker with a group called the Wolfpack, completed a first aid training on how to stop bleeding.

Matthew Richmond, WCPN

Lynn Rolf III owns a lot of guns, but only one makes him stop and think whenever he sees it.

“I’ve had conversations with one of my pistols numerous times about how easy it would be to put it in the mouth,” he said. “Pretty one-sided.”

Rolf had those conversations inside a “dark tunnel” he fell into after returning from a deployment to Iraq shortly after the war began in 2003.

If in recent years it seems that school shootings are happening more frequently, occupying public discourse and media coverage, it’s because they are. Although school shootings are still very rare compared to daily gun violence, the data show they are happening more often.

Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

As school security has become a top priority in communities across the country, security companies have found a thriving new market for their products. But in a sea of gadgets and technology, how do school districts effectively sift through and find the products that can truly help prevent a school shooting?

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