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
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.
Gwen Ifill hosts a roundtable discussion on the aftermath of the Newtown school shooting. Guests include: John Harwood, CNBC and New York Times; David Sanger, New York Times; Molly Ball, The Atlantic; Sari Horwitz, Washington Post.
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
In a wide-ranging and personal interview Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talks to Gwen Ifill about growing up in Chicago, saying, “Gun violence has haunted me my entire life.” In his first interview since the tragedy, he describes how crimes against school children during his tenure as superintendent of the Chicago public school system shaped his own views on guns. And, while warning “it will never be the entire solution,” Duncan looked at the role government can start to play in trying to solve these problems.
GOOGLE HANGOUT: Arm Teachers or Ban Video Games? Students Debate
Gwen Ifill sits down with Washington Week regulars to look at how Washington reacted to this crisis and others in the past. Peter Baker of the New York Times, Todd Purdum of Vanity Fair and Alexis Simendinger of RealClearPolitics discuss what may be different this time, for this President and this Congress.
Obama has expanded gun rights during his presidency so far. Will his new call to action bring any change?
Larry Pratt, the head of Gun Owners of America wrote in USA Today that gun control advocates have “blood on th[eir] hands” for the Connecticut school massacre. Pratt believes that the solution is not fewer guns but more. John Larson sat down with him this week in Virginia.
Among the 11 deadliest shootings in U.S. history, more than half took place in the last five years. During the same period, states have often relaxed their gun laws.