Airs Tuesday, February 19 at 9:30 PM on WVIZ/PBS
In April 1775, it took the Minuteman roughly fifteen seconds to load, aim, and fire each musket at the advancing British Redcoats in Lexington, Massachusetts. In December 2012, at a primary school in Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza was able to fire off dozens of rounds with an assault-type weapon in a mere sixty seconds. Gun technology has evolved a great deal since the Colonial era. So too has America’s gun culture. With an estimated 300 million firearms in circulation, the nation is saturated with firearms and overwhelmed by the human toll they’ve taken. Over thirty people die every day from a gun-related injury. Guns in America is an unprecedented 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 after each mass shooting. And on the other, Charlton Heston’s 2002 rallying cry, “From my cold, dead hands,” still resonates across the land. Guns USA will trace the evolution of guns in America, their inextricable link to violence, and the clash of cultures that reflect competing visions of our national identity.