Guns & America | KCUR

Guns & America

Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

Gun manufacturer Colt says it plans to suspend production of AR-15-style rifles for the civilian market. The company plans to limit its production to fulfilling its police and military contracts.

The national debate on gun restrictions has largely focused on semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 and other so-called “assault weapons,” because of their use in high-profile mass shootings.

Colt says the decision is not a political one.

Lisa Dunn / WAMU

Following a series of high-profile shootings this summer, many have called on Congress to respond to mounting public pressure and enact new gun regulations after returning from the summer recess.

This week, the Democrat-led House Judiciary Committee will take a first step. The committee is scheduled to mark up several new gun control bills that were introduced earlier this year.

The three bills

Update, 6:20 p.m. ET: This story now includes additional language about the types of ammunition Walmart will no longer sell. 

Walmart announced Tuesday that it will discontinue sales of ammunition designed for handguns and military-style rifles such as the AR-15.

The company will also stop allowing customers to openly carry firearms inside its stores, and called on lawmakers to consider passing new gun control legislation.

Shortly after the shooting in Parkland, Florida, eight states passed some form of an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPOs) law, also known as a “red flag” law.

Segment 1: The fact and fiction of mass shootings.

Last week's shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, highlighted misconceptions when it comes to these tragedies. Is there a profile of a mass shooter, can red flag and gun laws reduce the number of incidents and are all the perpetrators mentally ill? Three Guns & America reporters discussed what they have discovered in covering the firearms issues in this country. 

Becker1999/Flickr

Mass shooters killed 31 people last weekend in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio, and three people in Gilroy, California last month, including two children. The week was the deadliest for mass shootings and fatalities this year, whichever way one chooses to count them.

In the wake of these incidents, we often hear “no one could have seen this coming,” or “this person just snapped." But what do we know about the perpetrators of mass shootings?

Glenn Carstens Peters / Unsplash

Following the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which killed at least 31 people, lawmakers started to point to one factor that could have contributed to shootings: violent video games.

Here’s the problem: They don’t.

What research says

What Is A Red Flag Law?

Aug 5, 2019
Ryan Carol King / Connecticut Public Radio

Among the popular gun policy proposals raised in the aftermath of shootings like those in Sandy Hook, Parkland and now El Paso and Dayton, the call for “red flag” laws has become a common refrain.

But like universal background checks and closing the “gun show loophole”, “red flag” laws aren’t self-explanatory.

Saturday’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, is the 249th mass shooting incident this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive. The Archive defines a mass shooting as four or more victims injured or killed excluding the perpetrator in one location.

Matt Gibson / Creative Commons-Flickr

A new study says that fatal shooting cases are getting measurably more attention from police than non-fatal shootings. But one expert thinks giving fatal shootings more attention might not be the most efficient way to combat gun violence.

Fatal and non-fatal shooting cases often start the same way: A gun is fired; someone is hit.

But if someone is killed by those shots, the case gets handed off to the police department’s homicide unit.

During the first night of the second Democratic presidential debate, the question of how to reduce gun violence emerged as one issue on which the sometimes-splintered Democratic Party speaks with as close to one voice as it can.

"As your president, I will not fold," vowed Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., before rattling off her list of proposals, which included background checks, an assault weapons ban and "something" about magazines.

Arts Fox1Fire/Flickr

Children are more likely to die of firearm-related injuries in states with looser gun laws, according to a study published by The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday.

Firearm injuries are one of the leading causes of death among children in the United States.

Daryl Howard turns 65 in October. He has a Glock .45-caliber handgun stored in his desk at home, but hopes never to use it.

“It’s not something that’s taken lightly,” Howard says on a weekday afternoon, in his second-floor Dallas apartment. “For me, there was no second option. It was something I felt was really necessary for me to be safe.”

Howard, who says he owns his gun for protection, is in good health. Getting a handgun license 15 years ago did not raise much of a fuss for his children, or son-in-law, Justin Allen.

Two of the National Rifle Association’s most potent public tools appear to have been lost.

NRATV, a bombastic online video network that sometimes strayed far from the organization’s core mission of gun rights into modern culture wars, will no longer produce live content.

NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre announced the move Wednesday on the organization’s website, hours after a New York Times report revealed the decision.

Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

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

Guns Make Some Women Feel Safe, From What?

Jun 4, 2019
Bita Hnoarvar / WABE

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.

Army veteran Lynn Rolf III, and Boomer, his dog. Rolf was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq.
Chris Haxel / KCUR 89.3

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.”

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.

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