LIVE BY THE GUN, DIE BY THE GUN

DISCUSSION GUIDE

On PBS (Check local listings)

A half hour special from In the Mix, the award winning PBS series

In urban, suburban, and small town neighborhoods and schools, crossing all geographic, ethnic, and economic boundaries, many teens feel that carrying a gun makes them cool, powerful and glamorous…that it will let them get out of any threatening situation without a scratch…that it is the only way to protect themselves in daily life. As a result, handgun violence has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. Young lives are shattered, family and friends are left behind to mourn, and the emotional scars last a lifetime and contribute to the cycle of revenge and death. Co-hosted by actor Billy Baldwin, youth activist and rap artist Chuck D, and In the Mix reporter Andrea Barrow, Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun takes a powerful and emotional look at why young people are carrying guns, their devastating impact, how to safely resolve conflicts and cope with losing a loved one to gun violence, and how teens are taking action to get guns out of their communities.

How to Use this Program:

Studies conducted by RMC Research on earlier In the Mix specials have shown that these programs engage the interest of teenagers, deliver information, catalyze discussion on critical issues, as well as promote analytical thinking and a greater sense of self-efficacy among teens. We recommend that you show the entire special in one sitting and then revisit each section followed by discussion. The aim is to encourage thought and allow teens to generate their own creative solutions.

Did you know?

In the Mix Awards

•1997 International Prix Danube for Children's Television

•1997 New York Emmy for Children's Programming

•1996 Finalist, The New York Festivals

•1994 National Emmy for Community Service Programming

•1993 Finalist, Prix Jeunesse

•1992 CPB Gold Award

We are proud to announce that the program has recently been named by the Young Adult Library Services Association as one of their 1999 Selected Videos for Young Adults, which recognizes videos for technical merit, content, use with and interest to youth ages 12-18. Tthe Young Adult Library Services Associaton is a divison of the American Library Association.

We invite your feedback on the issue or, if you have seen it, on this program. Please take a few minutes to share your thoughts with us.

Gun Violence: Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun contains these major sections, along with introductions and commentary by In the Mix reporter Andrea Barrow, actor Billy Baldwin, and activist/rap artist Chuck D.

Four Profiles

Teens On Target

Coping

Learning to Walk Away

Taking a Stand

Selected Resources

For information about In the Mix, including show descriptions and schedules, visit our home on the World Wide Web at www.pbs.org/mix, or e-mail us at InTheMix@pbs.org.

Gun Violence: Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun carries one-year off-air taping rights and performance rights. Check your local PBS listings for airtimes.

Videotape copies of the program can be purchased for $69.95 (Plus $5.00 shipping and handling per order; and includes performance rights and a Discussion Guide), and can be ordered by sending a check or purchase order to: In the Mix, 114 E. 32 Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10016, or by calling (800) 597-9448. There is a discount of $5.00 per tape on orders of any five or more In the Mix titles.

Other videos of interest to grades 7-12 are available on topics including: Drug Abuse; Teen Immigrants; Depression and Suicide; Computer Literacy and Careers; Self-Image and the Media; Sports Participation; Media Literacy; Activism; Getting into College; Alcohol and DWI; Dating Violence; School to Work Transition; Careers; Relationships; AIDS; and others.

c 1998 In the Mix. Gun Violence: Live by the Gun, Die by the Gun is a production of Castle Works Inc. In the Mix was created by WNYC Radio. This special was funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

FOUR PROFILES

Viewers meet four young people who chose a life of violence, then chose to leave it behind. Lonnie, a former Los Angeles gang member, is now confined to a wheelchair. Virginia, also an ex-gang member, lost her eyesight to a gunshot wound. They talk about the myths and realities of their former way of life. Robert is serving jail time and reflects on how he could have taken a different path. Victor decided to stop carrying a handgun after his cousin was brutally murdered.

When and why did these young people start carrying guns?

(it was natural to go from playing with water guns to using pocket knives and BB guns to carrying real guns; idolized cool media figures like Scarface; Virginia moved into a neighborhood where she thought carrying a gun was the only way to survive a "do or die" situation)

What are some of the common misconceptions people have about carrying a gun?

(you’ve got a reputation to uphold; have to keep up with who you hang out with; got to be prepared to get revenge on "enemies"; if you have a gun, nobody will mess with you; you’ll be respected as "top dog"; because everyone else carries a gun, you can’t be the one who’s unprotected)

What regrets do Lonnie, Virginia, and Robert express about their lives?

(Robert wishes he’d gotten involved in sports as a release for aggression; Lonnie will always wish his quality of life were higher; Virginia still gets harassed by "enemies" for things she did in the past)

ACTIVITY:

Overwhelming statistics show that the U.S. has an astronomically higher rate of death and injury by guns than any other country. Assign each student a country and ask him or her to research how many handgun-related deaths occurred there in a one-year period. Compare and discuss their findings, focusing on why the problem in the U.S. is so much greater.

ACTIVITY:

As a class, research current laws in your state about guns, such as zero tolerance, and about juvenile offenders. If possible, arrange for an ex-inmate to speak to the class about the realities of "getting caught" and "doing time".

ACTIVITY:

Arrange for a medical professional to visit the class to talk about the reality of gunshot wounds.

TEENS ON TARGET

In Los Angeles, a program called Teens On Target sends former gang members to schools, where they speak to students about the realities of gun violence.

According to Lonnie, Virginia, and Gilbert, what are some of the myths and truths about gang life?

(myth: you will be better protected against violence, truth: you have a higher risk of violence, can’t even walk around your own house safely. myth: gang members are tough and cool, truth: according to Virginia, most of them are really hurting or scared inside; myth: you have enemies you need to protect yourself against, truth: nobody has real enemies until they choose gang life and take on the enemies of their gang)

What are some myths and truths about carrying a gun?

(myth: a gun will always protect you, truth: it may force the other person to shoot you first, or you can accidentally shoot yourself; myth: it will improve your life, truth: it will increase the chances of your life ending in jail, a wheelchair, or a cemetery)

What important lessons are the Teens On Target members trying to teach other young people?

(like yourself; there are other ways to feel confident besides carrying a gun; it’s okay to get your pride hurt or be called names; you can heal emotional wounds but not gunshot wounds; it’s okay to say you’re sorry even if you’re not in the wrong)

ACTIVITY:

As a class, discuss other common beliefs about guns and why these beliefs are wrong.

ACTIVITY:

Many recent popular movies and songs glamorize or encourage violence. Ask students to name some of these, and discuss why they don’t convey the reality of gun violence.

ACTIVITY:

Identify a group like Teens On Target, or a former gang member/current anti-gang activist, in your area. Arrange for a presentation at your school.

COPING

Andrea joins a group coping session for those who have lost loved ones to gun violence.

What are some of the feelings these young people have been struggling with after losing a loved one to gun violence?

(emptiness; obsessing about how they could have changed what happened; changing moods; crying; not being able to feel happy; being afraid for your life; feeling like someone has "won" and is laughing at them)

Group leader and social worker Susan Montez points out that when you are grieving, it’s easy to avoid thinking through your feelings. What are some myths and truths about coping with grief?

(myth: if you don’t talk about your pain, it will disappear, truth: if you don’t deal with it, it will really just fester and grow; myth: revenge is the only way you’ll feel good in control again, truth: the real power is in saying no to revenge and stopping the cycle of death and violence; myth: if you don’t remember the bad things, you’ll be okay, truth: by shutting out the bad things, you shut out the good things too)

How can the effects of surviving and coping with violence spread into other parts of your life?

(trouble in school, trouble with friends, general depression, killing your hopes and dreams for a better future)

What advice do these teens offer others who are coping with the loss of a loved one to gun violence?

(deal with your feelings; remember the good times you had with the person; take it day by day; surround yourself with people who love you; do something creative or artistic to express yourself; share and help others with volunteer work or other positive activities)

ACTIVITY:

Research and make a list of community resources that can help people cope with losing a friend, or witnessing a violent incident. If possible, first compile a list of these resources, then with the class discuss how different groups have different services to offer, and how students can seek out any help they need. If there are no local groups available and there is a need in the community, research how to get one started.

ACTIVITY:

Ask students to create a poem, painting, collage, etc. to express how they feel about losing friends and relatives to gun violence or for other reasons.

ACTIVITY:

Organize a schoolwide candlelight vigil in remembrance of victims of gun violence.

LEARNING TO WALK AWAY

FACES, an improvisational theatre network of young adults, performs scenes based on issues that affect teens everywhere, including gun violence. Their presentation on conflict resolution and dealing with anger sparks a candid discussion among their audience.

The actor who is "Free Floating Anger" shows how when two people start a fight, very often they are not mad at each other, but at someone or something else in their lives. What kinds of events and feelings come into play in a situation like this?

If you walk away from a standoff with someone, does that mean you’re a wimp?

(no; it actually takes more intelligence and power to think about a situation and walk away from it)

In movies and television, very often the hero gets confronted by his enemies. What usually happens? Can you give some examples from recent films and programs? Why is this usually the case?

(because films and TV shows need to create drama, and most people believe that anything dramatic, exciting, and interesting must include violence)

Andrea points out that it’s safer not to hang around if you see a fight escalating. Why? What can happen?

(if there is a shooting, you might get hit as an innocent bystander)

ACTIVITY:

Ask students to write or improvise skits that address conflict resolution. Arrange to perform these in front of their peers or younger students and facilitate discussion.

ACTIVITY:

Identify and rehearse strategies for safely getting out of a situation where someone has a gun.

TAKING A STAND

Andrea talks with Sarah Brady, Chair of the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence, who outlines how things can change legally and what teens can do on local and national levels to stop the gun violence epidemic.

Sarah Brady lobbied to get the Brady Law passed when her husband was shot and injured in an assassination attempt on President Reagan’s life. What is the Brady Law?

(it created a five-day waiting period before you can buy a gun, during which a background check is performed)

What new laws and actions would keep teens from getting guns so easily?

(a law that would make it illegal for anyone to sell a gun to a minor second-hand; having that law strictly enforced)

Sarah says, "When adults realize there’s a cry out for help in the community and it’s coming from the young people themselves, who are most affected by gun violence, they’ll listen." What can teens do to voice their opinions and take action to fight handgun violence?

(write editorials and letters to the editor; call and write your local congressperson or Senator; you can even write the White House like Jeronique Bartley did; support certain legislation like the Child Accident Prevention bills; form an anti-violence group in your school or community; find a way to deliver anti-violence messages through artistic media like posters, music, or PSA’s)

ACTIVITY:

Identify current anti-violence legislation, and ask students to write their local congressperson or senator in support. Identify which politicians will be running for re-election soon, and have students ask them how they will vote on gun regulation bills. Review the letters and any responses received.

ACTIVITY:

Help students start an anti-violence coalition in their school or community. Declare the school a "gun-free" zone. Organize a school assembly or "town hall meeting" to talk about the issue and motivate other students to get involved. Explore what the school or community can do to encourage teens to report those carrying guns, such as establishing a hotline.

ACTIVITY:

Wendy made her PSA while an inmate in prison, which helped her with the healing process and gave her the opportunity to enter a respected summer film school program. Ask your students to develop artistic projects that address an anti-violence issue of their choice, either as individuals or in groups. Organize a forum for these projects to be viewed by the school or community, and discussed.

SELECTED RESOURCES

National Center for Injury Prevention and Control

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

4770 Buford Highway, NE

MailStop K-65

Atlanta, GA 30341-3724

Phone: (770) 488-4902

Fax: (770) 488-1667

Student Pledge Against Gun Violence

The Student Pledge Against Gun Violence will be observed in schools throughout the country on October 8th 1998, a Day of National Concern about Young People and Gun Violence.

112 Nevada St.

Northfield, MN 55057

www.pledge.org

National Youth Gang Center

(800) 535-8127

www.iir.com/nygc

Pacific Center For Violence Prevention

(415) 821-8209

www.pcvp.org

National Crime Prevention Council

(800) WE PREVENT

www.weprevent.org

Center To Prevent Handgun Violence

Straight Talk About Risks (STAR)

(202) 289-7319

www.handguncontrol.org

The Educational Fund To End Gun Violence

(202) 530-0340

www.gunfree.org

Child Welfare League of America

(202) 942-0323

www.cwla.org

Crime and Violence Prevention Center

(916) 324-7863

www.caag.state.ca.us/cvpc