Guns & America

Several children at the Langston Lane Apartments in Southeast Washington, D.C., saw the body of 15-year-old Gerald Watson after he was chased down by two assailants, shot and killed in December.

The shooting happened just a short walk away from the TraRon Center after-school program, a community anti-gun violence resource and refuge to some two dozen children, which is housed in the same apartment complex where Watson lived and was killed.

Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

The Guns & America series looks at the popularity of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. The firearm's name and design are licensed to numerous manufacturers and can be customized with a plethora of attachments, making it one of the top-selling rifles in America. Heath Druzin, Boise State Public Radio's Guns & America reporter, joins Idaho Matters to parse out the popularity of this gun.

On The Monday, March 11, 2019 Edition Of Idaho Matters

Mar 8, 2019

  • Concordia Law School receives full accreditation.
  • Owyhee Initiative celebrates 10 years of preservation.
  • 'Guns & America' looks at the popularity of the AR-15.
  • George Prentice previews Sun Valley Film Festival.

As the pops of gunfire echo around him, Monte Petersen stoops to collect small brass casings that recently flew from his .45 pistol. The cartridges jingle like loose change as he picks them off the gun range floor and tosses them into a bucket.

Petersen is one of thousands, perhaps millions, of target shooters who take their shooting hobby further: Recycling their ammunition cartridges and assembling new cartridges by hand to shoot again.

Almost every morning in January and February, Patrick Parsons records a live Facebook video across the street from the Georgia capitol.

While it looks picturesque online, in person, it’s not the world’s most glamorous moment.

“I’ll probably go over there by the trash can, which is where I usually do it,” said Parsons, laughing. It’s easier to fit the gold dome of the capitol building into the frame from there.

Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

Jim Corbet was a building contractor with way more free time than business in 2011, as the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis took hold in his hometown of McCall, Idaho.

Corbet was also an amateur machinist and firearms enthusiast and he noticed fellow shooters gravitating toward one semi-automatic rifle in particular – the AR-15. So he set up shop in his garage and started tinkering with designs.

Jim Corbet was a building contractor with way more free time than business in 2011, as the fallout from the subprime mortgage crisis took hold in his hometown of McCall, Idaho.

Corbet was also an amateur machinist and firearms enthusiast and he noticed fellow shooters gravitating toward one semi-automatic rifle in particular – the AR-15. So he set up shop in his garage and started tinkering with designs.

The day in 2012 that a gunman killed 27 people and then himself in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, he didn’t just use a semi-automatic rifle. The shooter had an array of handguns, shotguns and rifles, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting shocked the nation, spurring new conversations about banning so-called assault weapons and magazines that could hold dozens of rounds.

Just because districts choose not to arm teachers with guns doesn’t mean they intend for them to simply hide if an active shooter enters a school. Some Maryland school districts are taking steps to train teachers to defend themselves in other ways.

Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) officials call their new strategy for responding to active shooter threats a “lockdown with options.” The school district near Washington, D.C., is training teachers to not only hide in a classroom when an assailant arrives, but to also flee or fight.

Sandy Hook. Parkland. Santa Fe.

If it seems like school shootings are becoming more common, there is some data to support that.

After the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, government investigators and contractors who process firearms dealer and special weapons licenses are staring at an application backlog that likely runs into the tens of thousands. As the possibility of another shutdown looms, so, too, does the the likelihood of that backlog increasing exponentially.

Heath Druzin / Boise State Public Radio

federal ban on bump stocks represents nearly unprecedented firearms regulation, the kind that concerns even some gun rights proponents who don’t like the devices.


Gun sales have been trending down since the 2016 presidential election when the sales hit a record high.

As Fred Nelson shuffled through a crowded convention center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a man tapped him on the shoulder to ask about a gun.

The man knew Nelson was selling thanks to the handwritten menu taped on Nelson’s backpack advertising more than a dozen handguns, rifles and shotguns.

He offered $300 for a Glock 19 pistol listed at $350.

“Meet me in the middle at $325,” Nelson responded. “It’s never been fired. You can look down the barrel.”

“I can do $300 cash, that’s all I can do,” the buyer responded, before pausing. “I haven’t even looked at it yet.”

For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case involving constitutional gun rights.

While the ruling will directly affect only a small group of people ‒ New York City residents who are licensed to own a handgun and want to be able to take that gun outside city limits ‒ the court’s decision to accept the case could signal a new willingness to wade into questions surrounding the Second Amendment.

Judy Amabile has a crumpled sleeping bag laid out on the porch of her bright, beautiful home in downtown Boulder, Colorado.

“My son isn’t supposed to come in the house when he’s been drinking. That’s why we have this sleeping bag out here,” she explained. “Anybody else would look at that and think uh, what? But for us it’s like…That’s life.”

Life with Amabile’s son, 26, can be a struggle; the problem isn’t only alcohol abuse. He has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, she says, so many diagnoses that she just isn’t sure what’s wrong.

In his Portland, Oregon home, Austin Meyers stands in front of his gun safe and explains how he stores his ammo, his pistols and his rifle.

He puts a cable lock on his matte Glock handgun, about to demonstrate how fast he could unlock it and load a magazine if he had to in an emergency.

Rates of youth suicide are higher in states with high gun ownership, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Researchers studied 10 years of teenage suicide rates and found that gun ownership “is a factor that really is highly predictive for what the youth suicide rate is going to be,” said Dr. Michael Siegel, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and one of the paper’s authors.

Stephanie Bond was married to her husband for almost 22 years before he called her into the master bedroom one afternoon in February 2010.

“He pulled out a .45-caliber gun and shot me three times in our walk-in closet with three of the four children at the home,” Bond said. “After he shot me, he put the gun in his mouth and killed himself — and died next to me.”

While working as an orthopedic surgeon in Hawaii, Dr. Diane Payne had treated one person with a gunshot wound in three years. But when she moved to Atlanta in 2013, Payne said it was like treating gunshot victims was suddenly all she was doing.

“I was shocked by the number of gun-related injuries that we’re seeing and taking care of here,” said Payne, who works at Atlanta’s busy downtown trauma center, Grady Memorial Hospital.

In 2013, Grady treated more than 600 gunshot victims.

Waiting on a federal firearms license to open your gun shop? Got an application pending to transfer a machine gun? You’re out of luck until the government shutdown ends, after which you’ll be at the mercy of a lengthy backlog.

Lawmakers this week are reintroducing federal legislation that would require background checks on nearly all gun purchases — what they call “universal background checks.” But what are universal background checks? Let’s take a look at what they would — and would not — entail.

Shooting your gun into the air on New Year’s Eve – or any celebratory gunfire, for that matter – can have deadly consequences. That might seem obvious, but along with party poppers, fireworks and champagne, it remains a staple at some celebrations.

Gun issues haven’t always been important to Dr. Erik Wallace.

As a young kid growing up in Northern California, Wallace discovered his dad’s handgun in a dresser drawer but was scared of what his dad would do if he touched it. He had a BB gun when he was young but preferred to play baseball, and has never been interested in hunting.

But his relationship with guns completely changed seven years ago when one of his patients threatened to kill him.

One day not long ago, James Banks, 18, was sitting in his house in the St. Clair–Superior neighborhood in Cleveland. He picked up a tape recorder and turned it on.

“If you can really listen out the window, to two streets down, it just sounded like a full-on war out there,” Banks said.

The sounds were coming from a shooting right around the corner at 3 p.m. on a Wednesday.

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