Today, President Obama is announcing new gun control measures aimed at curbing gun violence across the country. In the midst of all the gun talk, writer/director Spencer Gillis’ short film “Gun” beat out 8,000 entries to be one of 85 premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. He joins Soledad on “Starting Point” to talk about his film.
The 17-minute short is from the perspective of someone that buys a gun for protection. Gillis says it’s not about making a statement but more about the concept of owning a gun. “It’s about the influence of power on the human mind,” he says. “You have a man who buys a gun and it leads to these dark fantasies that he starts to have and it just takes him down a path that could have very serious consequences.”
Gillis says he was raised with a complicated relationship with guns, growing up around them and strongly believing in the second amendment but having a firm understanding of control. Gillis hopes the film inspires people to get educated on guns.
“I think if people walk away provoked to think about the issue, to sort of re-examine the way that they look at the issue, that would be a success in my eyes because that means people are going to have a conversation about the film,” Gillis says.
Vice President Joe Biden will deliver recommendations on gun control to the president on Tuesday after meeting with gun advocacy groups like the NRA and National Shooting Sports Foundation. The one thing they have agreed on is universal background checks. Richard Feldman of the Independent Firearm Owners Association talks to Soledad.
Feldman thinks the discussions are headed in the right direction, “I thought we had a real conversation and it wasn’t just a lecture. We had some different positions on some issues, but really a lot more agreement on many of the multifaceted aspects of the problem than really sometimes come out in the media,” he says.
The conversation was surrounded by civil commitment, penalties for gun running, problems with alcohol, tobacco, and firearms- all components considered in the gun violence discussion. Feldman sees this as progress compared to past attempts to come to a resolution, he says, “If we focus correctly on the problems, we stand a real chance of doing something and having solutions that are going to work. But, if we go back to the bumper stickers of the past and have two sides just yelling past each other and really not talking about the same issue at the same time, then no we are not going to solve anything.”
The NRA said after the meeting, “We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the second amendment.” However, Feldman says the discussions have everyone on the same page on taking background checks seriously, “Our organization believes strongly that at gun shows there ought to have background checks on the transfer of a firearm at a gun show. Right now, dealers have to make that transfer, but private citizens don’t. […] But, when we talk about universal checks, people may not understand what that means. That means when you give a gun to your child, or to your spouse, or you sell a gun to a friend or a neighbor, there is an important distinction there. You know who you sold the gun to."
The problem isn’t with people who buy guns lawfully. The problem is that there are 500,000 guns stolen every year in this country. The meeting resulted in common ground on one key issue, he says, “Everybody in the room yesterday, NRA included, was all in favor of enhanced penalties for strawman purchases…a lot of agreement in the room yesterday."
Though he is positive about reaching a compromise, Feldman is confident that negotiations must be made. He says, "There will be disagreement on a couple of key issues and that’s why we have a congress and this issue isn’t coming to an end next Tuesday. There will be hearings on the hill and this is going to be a big fight.”
After the Stockton shooting in 1989, it took five years to pass the first assault weapons law. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut is determined to get effective change following the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting. He stopped by to discuss his plan with Soledad.
His plan starts with the basics that have been discussed time and time again when we are faced with a tragedy involving guns. He says, “It begins with common sense on a ban on assault weapons of the type that was used in this horrific massacre as well as high-capacity magazines, also enabling this killing to take place. Better background checks, right now only 60% of all sales involve any background checks. And, of course, keeping guns out of the hands of deranged people.”
The president had choice words at a press conference recently, declaring, “I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. We won’t prevent them all, but that can’t be an excuse not to try.”
Following the president’s lead, Senator Blumenthal has already started working on legislation, “Senator Feinstein and I have moved ahead forcefully with action even during this period of mourning because we need to bring together the movement in the community…I think that we are at a historic moment,” he says.
However determined, he is also realistic. His bottom line is that an attempt needs to begin and he is confident that he will follow through. “But there’s no one single, simple solution to this problem. And nothing that will prevent all of them perhaps, but as the president said so forcefully yesterday and Sunday night at the vigil where he spoke so powerfully to the families and first responders, we need to try. We need to do something,” he says.
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