“We cannot wait one moment longer to address the unacceptable fact that on average, 91 Americans are killed by gun violence every day,” says Zicra Lukin, of Moms Demand Action in Oregon. “Hundreds more are injured. As we’ve seen all too often, gun violence can occur anywhere. We know what the common-sense solutions are, and we must implement them to save lives.”
Lukin will be one of the speakers at the first presentation of the 2016-17 season of the Salem Progressive Film Series. The film being shown, Under The Gun, 2016, directed by Stephanie Soechtig and produced and narrated by Katie Couric, is a documentary about the country’s inaction on gun control.
It is a timely subject. Last October, in response to a CBS/New York poll asking, “Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?” 92% of Americans interviewed said they favored the checks. 7% were opposed and only 1% were unsure or did not answer. Polls by Gallup and Quinnipiac University at about the same time showed similar results.
Yet since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 – when 20-year-old Adam Lanza, after probably killing his gun-enthusiast mother, drove about 5 miles to the school where he fatally shot 26 people, twenty of them children between 6 and 7 years of age – there have been no substantive changes to American federal gun laws. Gun control advocates have grown increasingly frustrated by the inaction of their government.
Under the Gun examines the reasons why there has been so little forward movement.
The film itself speeds by. With assured editing it presents interviews with broken families affected by shootings in Aurora, Isla Vista, and Tucson, as well as those experiencing gun violence in inner cities such as Chicago. It provides numerous easily understood statistics about mass shootings and gun deaths and gives the arguments of advocates on both side of the issue.
Though it makes gestures towards impartiality, , Under The Gun is clearly impatient with the repeated delays in steps that might save the lives of thousands of innocent people. Its arguments are well researched, passionate and persuasive.
It is no news that the National Rifle Association’s substantial political power has a huge influence on the way politicians discuss issues like universal background checks, but Under The Gun surprises by showing a number of NRA members, in informal street polls, saying they would endorse these measures.
In 2015, Oregon became the 18th state to require background checks on all gun sales, closing some gaping loopholes. “Research has shown that this step, which keeps guns out of the hands of dangerous people, is the most effective way to save lives,” says Lukin.
While “Under the Gun” is convinced that robust gun regulations will save lives, it is not against the 2nd Amendment. It contends that realistic regulations and Constitutional rights can exist hand in hand. Neither do Lukin and Moms Demand Action oppose the 2nd Amendment. Instead, as Lukin says, she believes “that with rights come responsibilities – particularly with this right, when exercising it irresponsibly can have lethal results.”
Under The Gun does not say that addressing the many issues that lead to mass shootings will be easy. Its purpose seems to be to arouse the feelings of anger and helplessness that many feel after a mass shooting – feelings that necessarily dissipate over time with the preoccupations of daily life and a 24-hour news cycle.
The film repeatedly shows how family members who have lost children can be galvanized by grief into taking action in a country where politicians find it difficult to achieve meaningful change. Bereavement rallies an inner city Chicago mother similar to the way it does conservative gun owning parents. The movie acknowledges that no workable solution will be simple. But it forcefully contends that more can be done.
Joining Lukin in discussion after the film will be Penny Okamoto, Executive Director of Ceasefire Oregon.
Under the Gun
Salem Progressive Film Series
Guest speakers &
audience discussion follow,
Presentation and Q & A with Penny Okamoto, Executive Director, Ceasefire Oregon and
Zicra Lukin, Oregon Chapter Leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense
Tuesday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.
The Grand Theater
191 High St. NE, Salem