Guns & America | KCUR

Guns & America

Luis Melgar / Guns & America - KCUR

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 / WUNCI

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?

The ‘big aha moment’

The Chatham County School District has about 8,700 students within its system and is situated in the center of northern North Carolina, a mix of rural and suburban communities.

Jonathan Levinson / OPB

Standing in his office adjacent to the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct, Roy Moore is explaining how gentrification has escalated some instances of gang violence in the neighborhood.

“We kinda had territories and codes, so I’m not going to go over there unless it’s time to do something,” explained Moore. “Now, it might happen anywhere. Twelve in the morning, nine in the morning going to get my blunt paper, I need my pistol with me now because I don’t know who I’m going to run into.”

Segment 1: Concerns linger regarding Lake City Army Ammunition Plant.

The largest manufacturing plant for smaller caliber rounds is in Independence, Missouri. It suffered an accidental explosion in 2017 causing the death of one person and injuring four more.  Chris Haxel explained what contributed to the fatal event and the operation's questionable safety record under the current contractor.

U.S. Army

Two years after an explosion at a crucial Army factory that is the country’s largest producer of small-caliber ammunition, the underlying cause of Lawrence Bass Jr.’s death remains unclear.

Bass, a longtime employee, followed explosives-handling procedures later deemed to be poorly written. He worked for a defense contractor anxious to slash costs on a government contract it had underbid.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

The families of several people who were killed or wounded in a 2016 mass shooting near Wichita, Kansas, have reached a multimillion-dollar settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the pawn store that sold some of the guns used in the attack.

The lawsuit alleged that local retailer A Pawn Shop sold the guns to a woman as part of a straw purchase, which is when one person buys a gun on behalf of someone else, circumventing background checks and federal law.

Adhiti Bandlamudi / WUNC

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?

Tyrone Turner / WAMU

Several children at the Langston Lane Apartments in Southeast Washington, D.C., saw the body of 15-year-old Gerald Watson after he was chased down by two assailants, shot and killed in December.

The shooting happened just a short walk away from the TraRon Center after-school program, a community anti-gun violence resource and refuge to some two dozen children, which is housed in the same apartment complex where Watson lived and was killed.

Matt Richmond/ideastream

Say you keep a firearm for home defense. Picture your small daughter finding your gun. If it's loaded, that could be the last thing she ever does.

It's not exactly a rare scenario. Firearm injuries were the second-leading cause of death among children in 2016, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Safety technology could make accidental firing impossible, at least that's what developers hope.

Lisa Dunn / Guns & America - WAMU

This story has been updated to include the passage of HR 2112, the Enganced Background Checks Act of 2019.

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

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

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

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.

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.

Pixabay

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.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Note: This post has been updated to include comments from Sen. Bob Onder.

A bill that would allow people to bring guns onto public transit last week became the first of about 20 gun-related proposals to receive a hearing in the current Missouri legislative session.

Chris Haxel / KCUR

As Fred Nelson shuffled through a crowded convention center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a man tapped him on the shoulder to ask about a gun.

The man knew Nelson was selling thanks to the handwritten menu taped on Nelson's backpack advertising more than a dozen handguns, rifles and shotguns.

He offered $300 for a Glock 19 pistol listed at $350.

"Meet me in the middle at $325," Nelson responded. "It's never been fired. You can look down the barrel."

Wikimedia-Creative Commons

While working as an orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii, Dr. Diane Payne had treated one person with a gunshot wound in three years. But when she moved to Atlanta in 2013, Payne said it was like treating gunshot victims was suddenly all she was doing.

“I was shocked by the number of gun-related injuries that we’re seeing and taking care of here,” said Payne, who works at Atlanta’s busy downtown trauma center, Grady Memorial Hospital.

In 2013, Grady treated more than 600 gunshot victims.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Rates of youth suicide are higher in states with high gun ownership, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers studied 10 years of teenage suicide rates and found that gun ownership "is a factor that really is highly predictive for what the youth suicide rate is going to be," said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and one of the paper's authors.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

Lawmakers this week are reintroducing federal legislation that would require background checks on nearly all gun purchases — what they call "universal background checks." But what are universal background checks, and how could they affect gun sales in Kansas and Missouri? Let's take a look at what they would — and would not — entail.

Jdmoar / Flickr

Shooting your gun into the air on New Year's Eve -- or any celebratory gunfire, for that matter -- can have deadly consequences. That might seem obvious, but along with party poppers, fireworks and champagne, it remains a staple at some celebrations.

Toy guns have been a popular item on Christmas gift wish lists for decades. Little Ralphie Parker from the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story spends most of the movie wishing for a “Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model Air Rifle.”

Many toy guns look more real than toy, however, which has city officials, law enforcement and safety experts across the country urging parents to use extreme caution when purchasing them for children.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

It isn't every day three women in their seventies walk into a gun store.

Stephanie Nugent is the rookie, a first-time shooter who before today had never held more than a water gun.

Mary Knox is proficient: Two years ago she was "petrified," but overcame arthritic hands and bought her own pistol for self-defense.

Then there's Karen Corum, who has long had an interest in shooting and says she has "always been fairly good at it." She got Knox into the shooting sports and the duo now shoots together almost every week.

Last year, more than 771 million people passed through airport security nationwide. Among the liquids and wrapped presents Transportation Security Administration agents unearth in passengers’ carry-ons, they’re finding more and more firearms.

From 2015 to 2017, the TSA found at least 9,866 firearms in carry-on baggage at airports nationwide.

Jonathan Levinson / OPB

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.

Far more important Tyler says is “just spending that time with each other in the outdoors and just really being able to have an opportunity away from everything to bond on a different level."

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.

ALLISON LONG / POOL/THE KANSAS CITY STAR

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.

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.

Of the 105 mass shootings committed in the U.S. since 1982, 78 (or 74 percent) involved firearms obtained by legal means, as shown in this analysis of the mass shooting database created by news organization Mother Jones.

After a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday, killing at least 11 and wounding others in what federal prosecutors are calling a hate crime, faith leaders around the country are re-examining security tactics while trying to ensure their religious institutions remain accessible community centers.

Last year was the deadliest year on record for public mass shootings in American history. More than 100 people were killed in 30 incidents in the U.S. in 2017, according to the FBI.

At the signing of the U.S. Gun Control Act on Oct. 22, 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson hailed the bill as the first step in disarming “the criminal, and the careless, and the insane.”

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