Guns & America | Connecticut Public Radio
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Guns & America

Tenbeete Solomon

Bill Moore was 24 when police say he fired the bullets that would kill one 17-year-old and injure another.

He grew up in Hartford, Connecticut, and would hang out with friends who lived in the apartment building on Park Street that would eventually become a crime scene.

James Harris was 17-years-old when he survived being shot while hanging after school in Hartford, Connecticut.
Tenbeete Solomon

Renee White is trying to be patient and understanding as her son, James Harris, heals. He was shot alongside his best friend, Karlonzo Taylor, on a December afternoon in 2018. Karlonzo later died of his wounds.

Karlonzo Taylor was 17-years-old when he was fatally shot while hanging with friends after school in Hartford, Connecticut.
Tenbeete Solomon

Marvella Williams wasn’t expecting her 17-year-old son Karlonzo Taylor to die before she did, but he did. On a weekday in December 2018, Karlonzo became one of more than 7,000 Black boys and men who were fatally shot in the United States that year.

Owning a handgun significantly increases one’s risk of suicide, according to a study published Thursday that tracked new gun owners in California for more than a decade.

Mental health experts and researchers have long known that gun ownership suggests an increased risk of suicide, but the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine adds a new level of detail.

The global pandemic is putting a strain on Americans’ mental health. There’s been a surge of calls to crisis lines in the past two months. Add a spike in gun sales to that , and experts say we may be at risk of a suicide epidemic.

Tiny Montpelier, Idaho, may already be taking the brunt of pandemic fallout. In that town of just 2,500 and the surrounding Bear Lake Valley — a picturesque, remote corner of the state known for its namesake turquoise lake — there were five suicides in a three-week span of April. Another two deaths are being investigated.

An official at the U.S. Department of Justice is warning of an increase in domestic violence due to the wave of recent gun-buying spurred by the coronavirus pandemic, echoing concerns advocates have raised for weeks.

Though gun sales skyrocketed last month in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Rifle Association’s fortunes appear to be headed in the opposite direction.

Thousands of gun enthusiasts were slated to gather in Nashville for the NRA’s 2020 annual meeting this month, but like nearly every other large gathering planned for the spring it fell victim to the coronavirus isolation orders. That cost the group a valuable fundraising opportunity. The NRA says it led to layoffs.

Would Biden Follow In Obama’s Footsteps On Guns?

Apr 15, 2020

Former President Barack Obama endorsed Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and his own former VP, in a roughly 12-minute video posted to YouTube on Tuesday. He lauded Biden’s career, family, and personal values while pledging support for the ways Biden could take the reins of the United States’ fluctuating economy amid the COVID-19 crisis. He’s also eager to see Biden further grow Obama-era policies like the Affordable Care Act and rejoin the Paris Agreement.

As Americans flock to gun stores in the face of coronavirus fears, many gun dealers report an influx of new customers, taking home a deadly weapon for the first time. In response, long-time gun owners from across the country are stepping up to help these newcomers get some safety training in the age of social distancing.

Quantifying the number of first-time buyers is impossible, but anecdotally, gun store owners say there are many.

Ammon Bundy is holding court in a chilly warehouse by the railroad tracks in rural Emmett, Idaho. Yes, that Ammon Bundy.

Governors of several states have closed gun shops and dealers as part of their orders shuttering “non-essential” businesses to the public in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, drawing the ire and legal firepower of gun rights groups. Adding to the confusion, businesses selling firearms are exempted from these orders in states like Connecticut, Ohio and Illinois.

Lieutenant Genavous Minor strolled through police headquarters in Durham, North Carolina, on a recent day, joking around with colleagues.

Minor has lived in Durham his whole life and has been on the force for 25 years. Now, he oversees the gang unit, the group specifically charged with solving and preventing crimes in which validated gang members are offenders or victims.

“When you get to gang violence, no one sees that coming,” he said. “It’s random and it’s an act of terror.”

U.S. Supreme Court Leaves Bump Stock Ban In Place

Mar 2, 2020

Bump stocks, which allow semi-automatic firearms to fire rapidly like machine guns, will remain banned by the federal government in most instances after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear a case challenging recently imposed regulations.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Lori Jackson feared for her life, so she got a temporary restraining order against her husband. But he was still able to legally buy a handgun, which he used to kill Jackson.

This hour, we talk about the legal gaps that allow some domestic abusers to purchase firearms.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

A lawsuit by families of victims of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has the potential to significantly change what the world knows about how the gun industry thinks and operates. After years of delays, the lawsuit is moving forward, which may force the gun industry to make public what it considers private.

On a Friday morning in December, Jenny Lingle’s house in Boise, Idaho, is buzzing with the sounds of young children. Her daughters, Ruby, 4, and Lucy, 7, and their friend, Hannah, sit at the kitchen table, chatting between bites of breakfast.

Most days, Lingle works as a nurse at a local hospital. But on days like today, she’s half of an elementary school carpool, getting her daughters and their friend ready for school.

Firearms manufacturers had a good year in 2018, according to a new report from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF.) The industry’s main trade group says that’s in part because gun owners are concerned about increased gun regulation.

American producers pumped out nearly 7,660,772 firearms and roughly 8.1 billion rounds rounds of ammunition in 2018, according to data compiled by NSSF from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

How To Store That Nightstand Firearm Safely

Dec 24, 2019

A new survey of firearm storage practices in Washington state found 40% of respondents kept at least one firearm either unlocked or loaded in their home.

That is pretty close to what other studies have found.

Senior Evan Prestera celebrates after the win.
Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

Saturday marked seven years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting that left 20 students and six educators dead. And, as a town came together to remember and to pray in the morning, it also came together to celebrate an unlikely football victory by night’s end. 

A few weeks back, I found myself being pelted with snow, on an unnamed ridge, high above the aptly named Roaring River in central Idaho.

My eyes peeled for elk, I was trudging behind a friend with a rifle in one hand, trying not to trip on the trail-less mountainside.

How did I get here?

Overall crime in the United States has been declining since the early 1990s. But the same cannot be said for gun violence, which has seen a slight uptick in recent years.

Depending upon whom you ask, there have been somewhere between eight and 350 mass shootings in America so far in 2019. That’s a pretty big range. So why don’t we know the exact number?

Ryan Lindsay / Connecticut Public Radio

States that allow residents to carry a concealed firearm generally see more workplace homicides committed with guns, according to a new study from Eastern Connecticut State University.

Researchers analyzed 25 states that adopted the legislation between 1992 and 2017, and those states saw an average increase of 24% in the rates of workplace homicides committed with a firearm after the laws took effect. 

From Toxic To Staple: Gun Control Is Now Front And Center On The Campaign Trail

Oct 23, 2019
Gun control advocate and school shooting survivor David Hogg speaks at a presidential candidate gun forum on Oct. 2, 2019, with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, far left, looking on.
Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

The politics of guns on the national stage are changing. Fast. And when Democratic presidential hopefuls got together in Las Vegas earlier this month to discuss gun policy the shift was crystal clear.

Instead of running away from the issues, as the Democratic Party has for years, many of the candidates tried to one up each other on their gun control cred.

Shattered: Finding Life In A Wheelchair After Being Shot

Oct 20, 2019
Kwame Dew, a single father of three, sits in his electric wheelchair during a meeting of the Urban Re-Entry Group.
Tyrone Turner / WAMU

Once a week, in the basement auditorium of the MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., a group of men gather to discuss the various struggles and triumphs of life in a wheelchair.

Shattered: Intimate Partner Gun Violence

Oct 14, 2019
In March 2014, Timira Hopkins was shot by her then-boyfriend.
Photo illustration: Tyrone Turner / WAMU

Timira Hopkins knew her boyfriend was angry that she had stayed late at her grandmother’s house one day in March 2014, instead of being at home waiting when he got off work.

She had seen him upset before — often, even. His rage would routinely erupt into acts of violence, leaving her with black and blue bruises across her face. He sometimes threatened worse.

The AR-15 has taken center stage in the American gun debate. But at its heart, the AR-15 is a rifle that has been modified to look and feel a certain way.

The emphasis on its appearance, however, has shaped how the country regulates firearms, to the frustration of many gun owners and gun control advocates alike.

The AR-15 is a semiautomatic rifle that usually shoots 5.56mm rounds. It has a detachable magazine so users can put in 5-, 10-, 30-, or even 60- and 100-round magazines.

After a mass shooting, people and resources pour into the community to help victims and survivors cope. As these incidents continue to unfold, the grim infrastructure that springs up around them is growing larger and more sophisticated.

A recent survey from APM Research Lab, Call To Mind and Guns & America found that most Americans — including those who own guns and those who don’t — support laws requiring gun owners to store their firearms with a lock in place.

But not everyone sees storage the same way.

A Republican senator from Georgia has introduced a bill to study what he calls “mass violence.” It would give a $300 million infusion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sen. Johnny Isakson’s plan is to spend $75 million annually, for four years, to study the causes of what he calls “mass violence” and how to prevent it.

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