Straight Shooting


October 4, 2017—5 minute read


The latest mass shooting again opens up the debate about America's gun problem, which journalists have been highlighting for years

The horrific slaughter in Las Vegas, yet another example of the runaway gun violence plaguing America, also reminds us that much has been revealed about how this epidemic erupted.

Superb reporting, from top newspapers and magazines to lesser known web sites, chronicles the rise of ever more deadly weapons, the outsized influence wielded by gun makers and their lobby, and the shameful failings of elected officials, who refuse to do anything to stem this surge in mass shootings.  

We here at the Contently Foundation believe that the biggest obstacle to change is the lure of the message behind our Second Amendment — the belief among many that without free and easy access to the most lethal firearms available, our citizens will not retain the ability to violently overthrow the federal government, should Washington ever become so tyrannical that a second revolution becomes necessary. 

Nevermind that in our war for independence we fought using the same exact weapons as the British. Americans cling to this ideal, dismissing that rifles and handguns are no match for nuclear weapons and the best equipped military in human history. It's more than a right, says the Constitution; it's our duty to remove any government that tramples our liberties. A good many of our citizens think that we simply cannot do that without being armed like a militia.

It is because of that conviction that the National Rifle Association has been able to hijack the debate on sensible limitations to gun ownership, to buy off your Congressman and Senator or turn voters against them by stoking the unfounded fear that any restriction means taking all your guns.   

Often lost in the debate is that peaceful resistance, here and abroad, has had a greater impact on authoritarian government, and led to more lasting change, than violence. Our founding fathers' demand that we overthrow repressive rule is a daunting responsibility, but it's time to reconsider the awful consequences, today and in the near future, of assuming that the only way to honor that obligation is with a gun.

As for a closer look at reality, we highly recommend these reads:

This deep dive by Mother Jones examines the 10 biggest gun manufacturers in the country. It is their profits, and support, that provide the means to blocking gun control measures.

The Trace, a non-profit for investigative reporting funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, probes many aspects of gun ownership in America. We loved their guide to understanding mass shootings. (The Trace is an outgrowth of, a Bloomberg-backed charity devoted to protecting Americans from gun violence.)

The New Yorker did this great read on the history and culture of America's fascination with guns.

The Center for Public Integrity delved into problems at the ATF, the federal agency responsible for investigating gun crimes.

For data, charts and maps related to gun violence, check out this site, Gun Violence Archive.

And of course, we have to include our own investigative piece, which looks at how young women play an unwitting role in the flow of illegal handguns.

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