An exploration of America’s enduring relationship with firearms: From the first European settlements in the New World to frontier justice; from 19th Century immigrant riots to gangland violence in the Roaring Twenties; from the Civil War to Civil Rights, guns have been at center of our national narrative for four hundred years. Americans have relied on guns to sustain communities, challenge authority, and keep the peace. Efforts to curtail their distribution and ownership have triggered epic political battles. On one side, the cry for gun control gets louder with each mass shooting. And on the other, Charlton Heston’s 2000 rallying cry, “From my cold, dead hands,” still resonates across the land.
In the nine weeks since the Newtown shooting massacre, the gun control debate has spread far beyond the Beltway. Gwen Ifill and political editor Christina Bellantoni explore what steps American cities have taken to curb gun violence, and how opposition voices have attempted to fight these measures.
IN-DEPTH COVERAGE: After Newtown
Ever since the wake-up call that was Columbine, schools and law enforcement have developed multiple strategies to prevent attacks. Indeed, the horror of Newtown must be seen in a context that’s not defined by defeat.
More than 120 school assaults have been thwarted in the past ten years. And remarkably, while security hardware and physical barriers can play a deterrent role, it’s been psychologists — working hand in hand with law enforcement officers — who have come up with the most helpful tools to prevent violent attacks.
The Path to Violence tells the story of a powerfully effective Secret Service program — the Safe School Initiative — that’s helped schools detect problem behavior in advance.
In Chicago’s CeaseFire organization, reformed gang members protect their community from harm through a unique, dangerous and controversial method—by insinuating themselves personally into conflicts. Using lessons from their own complicated pasts, they gain access and credibility within stricken neighborhoods, forming personal bonds to break the deadly cycle of violence.
The damage done by the massacre of more than two dozen children and adults in Newtown, Conn., last December no doubt will reverberate for years. But much smaller shooting incidents that get little media attention can also have profound consequences.
One such incident occurred exactly 20 years before the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. At Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Massachusetts, a student went on a sudden shooting rampage that killed two people. Today, both the survivors and family members of those killed in the Simon’s Rock shooting are still trying to come to terms with what happened.
So far in the first two months of this year, gun deaths in Chicago have already outpaced last year’s explosive rate. Elizabeth Brackett of PBS member station WTTW explores the escalating public health crisis in Chicago due to the high rates of gun violence.
Jeffrey Brown explores whether there is any connection between violent video games and violent behavior.
In the wake of the mass killings at Sandy Hook, FRONTLINE looks for answers to the elusive question: who was Adam Lanza?
SLIDESHOW: Adam Lanza’s Path to the Sandy Hook Tragedy
More than a decade ago, FRONTLINE set out to understand how a troubled young man with no history of violence could become a random killer in the halls of his high school. What clues in his background, experience or medical condition might help make sense of a senseless crime?
On May 20, 1998, 15-year-old Kip Kinkel shot and killed his mother and father. The next morning he went to school and opened fire on his classmates, killing two and wounding 25.
This is the story of Kip Kinkel at Thurston High.
Over the last few years, dozens of states have significantly rolled back gun restrictions. Need to Know’s John Larson traveled to Virginia to see what’s known as the “open carry” movement first-hand and to investigate how the gun rights movement has become so effective in easing gun control laws. And, John Larson talks with Larry Pratt, the head of Gun Owners of America about Newtown.
PREVIEW: After Simon’s Rock, a Need to Know special report looking at a small college shooting in western Massachusetts some 20 years before Newtown. Even today, the families of victims and survivors are still trying to come to terms with what happened. (Airing Friday, Feb. 22, on PBS)
PROPUBLICA: Five federal policies on guns you’ve never heard of
VIDEO: Obama and Biden speak on new gun laws
SLIDESHOW: The world reacts to Newtown