Guns & America | KERA News

Guns & America

KERA is a part of a new national reporting collaborative that has 10 public media newsrooms training attention on the role of guns in American life.

KERA’s Hady Mawajdeh and nine other Audion Reporting Fellows across the country are exploring the impact guns have on Americans, from the cultural significance of hunting and sport shooting, to the role guns play in suicide, homicide, mass shootings and beyond. 

To learn more about the fellows and follow their reporting, visit gunsandamerica.org. For all gun-related stories, in and outside of the Guns & America project, click here.

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Flowers, buttons, and other items adorn a rock which is part of a semi-circle of stones at the makeshift memorial for the Virginia Tech shooting victims on the Drillfield of the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va., Wednesday, June 13, 2007.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

States "with more permissive gun laws and greater gun ownership" have higher rates of mass shootings, according to a new study published in the medical journal The BMJ. The study also found that states with more restrictive gun laws have fewer mass shootings, after adjusting for population.

Anthony Cave / KERA News

As the pops of gunfire echo around him, Monte Petersen stoops to collect small brass casings that recently flew from his .45 pistol. They jingle like loose change as he picks them off the gun range floor and tosses them into a bucket.

The House of Representatives side of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The House voted on major gun legislation for the first time in decades.
Lisa Dunn / Guns & America

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.

Mateo, left, and his older brother Caleb play in their backyard in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Kindergartener Caleb practices lockdown drills at his school, while his little brother Mateo hasn't started yet.
Adhiti Bandlamudi / Guns & America

Lockdown drills have become increasingly common in schools across the United States. 

Students start practicing these drills as early as pre-school, before they can truly understand what threat they are hiding from.

Gabriel Hodge holds up a bump stock, a plastic attachment that turns a semi-automatic rifle into a virtual machine gun. Bump stock owners, like Hodge, are in limbo after the ATF ruled the devices are illegal, a decision that has been challenged in court.
Heath Druzin / Guns & America

A federal ban on bump stocks represents nearly unprecedented firearms regulation, the kind that concerns even some gun rights proponents who don't like the devices.

Laura Isensee / Houston Public Media

Sandy Hook. Parkland. Santa Fe.

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

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives offices in Washington, D.C.
A.C. Valdez / Guns & America

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.

Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press

At the first hearing on gun violence on Capitol Hill since 2011, politicians fell into well-worn party roles, but — as they have for much of the last year — young people brought new energy to the familiar debate.

About 40,000 people attend Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show, which is held twice-annually in Tulsa, Okla.
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.

A customer shops at Frontier Justice, a gun store in Lee's Summit, MO. The number of documented background checks are high in 2018, but that doesn't necessarily mean gun sales are too.
Chris Haxel / KCUR

Gun sales have been trending down since the 2016 presidential election when the sales hit a record high. News outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, NPR and Bloomberg, have called this decline in gun sales the "Trump slump." 

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

With all the talk about property tax and school finance reform in the Texas Legislature so far, one has to wonder — what about guns?

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case on regulations that ban New York City residents from transporting handguns outside the city.
Chris Haxel, KCUR

For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving constitutional gun rights.

While the ruling will directly affect only a small group of people ‒ New York City residents who are licensed to own a handgun and want to be able to take that gun outside city limits ‒ the court's decision to accept the case could signal a new willingness to wade into questions surrounding the Second Amendment.

Judy Amabile believes that if Colorado enacts an Extreme Risk Protection Order bill, it could help prevent her son from buying a gun.
Leigh Paterson, KUNC

Judy Amabile has a crumpled sleeping bag laid out on the porch of her bright, beautiful home in downtown Boulder, Colorado.

"My son isn't supposed to come in the house when he's been drinking. That's why we have this sleeping bag out here," she explained. "Anybody else would look at that and think uh, what? But for us it's like…That’s life."

Sgt. Brandon White of the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office puts a cable lock on a training Glock on January 14, 2019, in Portland, Oregon. The Sheriff's office gives out gun locks for free to anyone who wants one.
Jonathan Levinson, OPB

In his Portland, Oregon, home, Austin Meyers stands in front of his gun safe and explains how he stores his ammo, his pistols and his rifle.

He puts a cable lock on his matte Glock handgun, about to demonstrate how fast he could unlock it and load a magazine if he had to in an emergency.

Illustration by Matthew Warlick / For Guns & America

Stephanie Bond was married to her husband for almost 22 years before he called her into the master bedroom one afternoon in February 2010.

"He pulled out a .45-caliber gun and shot me three times in our walk-in closet with three of the four children at the home," Bond said.

A 2017 study found that 4.6 million young people in the U.S. live in homes with at least one loaded, unlocked firearm.
Chris Haxel, KCUR

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.

'Ballistic Fingerprint' Database Expands Amid Questions About Its Precision

Jan 16, 2019
Portland Police Officer Ray Kerridge searches a car after she and gang enforcement officers found three people in a car with loaded guns in front of a high school homecoming football game in Portland, Ore.
Jonathan Levinson / Oregon Public Broadcasting

At the Portland Police Bureau’s North Precinct, Officer Jason Hubert is getting ready to fire a confiscated handgun into a thick metal bullet trap filled with a thick sludge called snake oil.

Trying To Open A Gun Store? Wait Until After The Government Shutdown

Jan 11, 2019
Caption Gun dealers waiting on approval for federal firearms licenses will have to wait some more: no pending applications will processed until the end of the partial shutdown of the federal government.
Credit Leigh Paterson, KUNC

Waiting on a federal firearms license to open your gun shop? Got an application pending to transfer a machine gun? You're out of luck until the government shutdown ends, after which you'll be at the mercy of a lengthy backlog.

For One Colorado Rancher, An AR-15 Is A Tool To Protect His Herd

Jan 10, 2019
Of the dozens of firearms Scott Shepherd owns, he says the AR-15 is probably his favorite.
Leigh Paterson / KUNC

Scott and JJ Shepherd live in a white house at the end of a dirt road in Walden, Colorado, a small town near the Wyoming border. The picture window above the sink in their kitchen frames a view: black cattle and a barn in the foreground, mountains in the distance, dark and dusted with snow.

That day, Scott had laid out some of his guns on the kitchen table. He isn’t sure how many he owns.

What Are Universal Background Checks? Here Is A Breakdown

Jan 8, 2019
Wanenmacher's Tulsa Arms Show in Tulsa, Oklahoma, would be among the thousands of gun shows across the country affected by legislation requiring universal background checks on gun sales.
Chris Haxel, KCUR

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? Let's take a look at what they would — and would not — entail.

Charlie Fowler recalls this bullet from celebratory gunfire going through his patio on New Year's Eve in 2013. Fowler has lived in the Kessler Park neighborhood of Dallas, Texas for the last 50 years.
Anthony Cave

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.

Brooks Creighton, 10, holds a Space Blaster toy at Learning Express Toys and Gifts in Durham, North Carolina. He says he's grown up with BB guns and nerf guns in his home.
Adhiti Bandlamudi / North Carolina Public Radio

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.

The Trump Administration says it will soon place a federal ban on bump stocks, the gun attachments that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire faster. Ten states banned the plastic device after it was used by a gunman in Las Vegas to shoot and kill 58 people in 2017.

Without any enhancement, semi-automatic rifles fire one bullet per trigger pull. Bump stocks harness the gun’s recoil to speed up the rate of fire, allowing the gun to pump out bullets faster.

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.

Gun issues haven’t always been important to Dr. Erik Wallace.

As a young kid growing up in Northern California, Wallace discovered his dad’s handgun in a dresser drawer but was scared of what his dad would do if he touched it. He had a BB gun when he was young but preferred to play baseball, and has never been interested in hunting.

But his relationship with guns completely changed seven years ago when one of his patients threatened to kill him.

Laws that allow people to use deadly force when threatened — without requiring them to first retreat — have been sweeping across the nation for over a decade. Today, depending on your definition, “stand your ground” is law in well over half of American states.

Gun deaths in the U.S. have been driving down black life expectancy at a significantly higher rate than for white Americans. That’s according to a new study led by Boston University researchers, funded by the National Institute of Justice.

Co-author Bindu Kalesan is an epidemiologist and data scientist at Boston University. She said plenty is already known about the rates of gun deaths for different racial groups 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.

A TSA officer looks at a monitor while checking a bag in the screening lane at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, May 25, 2016, in Atlanta. In 2017, TSA found more guns in carry-ons at the airport than at any other.
Associated Press

More than 771 million people passed through airport security across the country last year. And mixed in among the liquids and wrapped presents, Transportation Security Administration agents are finding something else in passengers’ carry-ons: thousands of loaded guns.

On the third weekend of every month is the Austin Highway Gun Show, where there are rows of tables with vendors with guns laid out for inspection and purchase. Would-be buyers slowly stroll through the venue, gazing at the pistols, rifles, semiautomatics and shotguns.


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