Guns & America

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As people across the country stock up on supplies to prepare for weeks of social distancing, Americans are crowding into gun stores, with firearms on their shopping list next to toilet paper and canned goods.

Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

America has one of the highest rates of gun violence in the developed world. That and the steady drumbeat of mass shootings, has led many states to pass stricter firearms regulations in recent years. But gun rights groups in more conservative states, like Idaho, are pushing legislatures to go in the opposite direction.

For families of some crime victims, the process to receive compensation for funerals and lost income can be simple. For others, it can be nearly impossible. The results depend on rules set by the state they live in.

In Maryland and the District of Columbia, for example, it’s relatively easy to receive compensation from the state.

Domestic abusers are generally prohibited from possessing firearms, but in many states, ensuring these offenders turn over their guns is difficult. A new investigator in the Denver, Colorado, District Attorney’s office is trying to change that by removing guns case-by-case.

The investigator spends his days listening to 911 calls, scanning social media and talking to family members, looking for signs that someone who has been charged with a domestic violence-related offense and who has a restraining order against them, has a gun.

Audio from a 2015 speech by Michael Bloomberg is stirring outrage over his strident defense of stop-and-frisk policing. But in the speech, the former New York City mayor and 2020 presidential candidate also makes a series of claims about gun violence that at the time were widely known to be false or even harmful.

The U.S. Department of Justice has been in a years-long fight to decrease violent gun crimes. And now, it’s targeting domestic violence abusers.

In December, Guns & America published a story looking at how Oregon’s two-year-old extreme risk protection order law was being used. The orders, known as ERPOs or “red flag laws,” allow law enforcement and family to petition a court to remove someone’s firearms if they are in danger of hurting themselves or others.

James Dawson / Boise State Public Radio

The Northeast has long been home to firearm titans, but recently the region has lost out to the South and Mountain West as more and more gun businesses follow financial and cultural incentives to relocate.

Spending on gun policy advertisements has risen sharply in recent elections, researchers at Johns Hopkins University have concluded, amid widening political divisions within the gun debate.

Over four election cycles from 2012-2018, the study, “Guns In Political Advertising Over Four US Election Cycles,” found that ads referencing guns increased from 1% of total candidate-related advertisements, to over 8% in the 2018 cycle.

Merry Jackson wanted to protect her daughter, Lori. She did the best she could. But when Lori’s husband, Scott Gellatly, stormed through the door of her parents’ home, there wasn’t much Merry could do.

“He’s here! Scott’s here!” Lori screamed upstairs to her mother, who was in bed with her twin 18-month-old grandchildren.

In its annual scorecard ranking the strength of state gun laws, the gun control advocacy group Giffords boosted ratings for a handful of states in the Midwest and West, most of which have traditionally been home to a strong gun rights culture.

The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence released its scorecard Thursday, touting six states that received higher grades:

Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio


The gun debate in America has been changing quickly, with Democratic presidential candidates embracing new gun control proposals and even some Republicans offering support for certain measures. 

Firearm Deaths Hold Steady After Record-Setting 2017

Jan 30, 2020
James Gathany / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A near-record number of Americans died by gunshot in 2018 according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading a coalition of 21 states, including Oregon, Colorado, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut and Washington, D.C., in a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration over newly announced arms export rules. The lawsuit, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, argues the new rules fail to meaningfully regulate 3D-printed guns.

The lawsuit is the most recent in a long string of legal twists and turns over the issue.

Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

Over 60,000 people head to Las Vegas each year for a gun industry juggernaut: The National Shooting Sports Foundation’s “SHOT Show” a Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade show that is the main event for the $6 billion industry.

A Packed, Peaceful Protest: Activists Descend On Virginia’s Capitol For Pro-Gun Rally

Jan 21, 2020

In the shadow of looming concern from state officials, the Virginia Citizens Defense League (VCDL)’s annual lobbying day event and rally Monday went as organizers planned with 22,000 in attendance, only one arrest and no notable issues (with the possible exception of the frigid temperature.)

There’s been a massive wave of public resistance in Virginia to gun regulations proposed by the recently-elected and Democratic-dominated state legislature there.

In most American cities, gun homicides are on the decline. But Durham, North Carolina, saw its homicide rate rise in 2019. While the community copes with feelings of chronic violence, one outreach worker is dedicating his time to ending the cycle.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday declared a state of emergency and instituted a temporary ban on firearms from being carried on Capitol grounds, as the state prepares to deal with an influx of gun rights supporters attending a protest rally in Richmond next week.

Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

We often look to the number of firearm background checks to estimate gun sales in the U.S. And new data shows that number jumped in 2019. But the real story behind those numbers is more complicated.