The AR-15—the type of semi-automatic gun used in the shootings in Aurora and Sandy Hook—is the most popular rifle in America. Harper’s contributor Dan Baum talks about why the AR-15’s “modularity” makes the gun incredibly difficult to regulate. His article "How to Build Your Own AR-15: The Gun Congress Can’t Ban" is in the June issue of Harper’s. Baum is also the author of the book Gun Guys: A Road Trip.
In a special episode of The Takeaway, host John Hockenberry will aim to get to the root of America's inability to openly discuss firearms by talking to those who most need to join this conversation: gun owners and enthusiasts themselves.
The classic American "gun guy" is shotgun-toting John Wayne, riding his way through cowboy movies like "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," "El Dorado," and "True Grit." Author Dan Baum describes himself as more of a Woody Allen than a John Wayne, and yet he has loved guns since his first successful shoot at the age of five. Baum describes his unlikely passion for firearms in his new book, "Gun Guys: A Road Trip."
As famous for its commercials as the big game itself, this year the Super Bowl premiered an ad starring New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Tom Menino. The thirty-second spot promoted Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition group of 600 mayors organized to promote urban safety by preventing the flow of illegal weapons into cities across the United States. While the ad may have seemed out of place alongside ads for cars, websites, and beers, the message it promoted was, in many ways, as uncontroversial as the aforementioned products.
Dan Baum went to New Orleans to cover Hurricane Katrina, but he ended up writing about the colorful people and the outsized culture of the city. The story became a book and now it’s a musical with songs by composer Paul Sanchez. They both join us to talk about the strange journey of the piece called "Nine Lives." Plus: stage and TV actor Michael Cerveris is helping to produce the upcoming musical. He joins us with a live performance.
Much has been made of Tucson shooting suspect Jared Loughner’s troubled state of mind by police and former classmates. But if Loughner’s mental issues were a factor in Saturday’s attacks, does it follow that we should screen people for mental illness before allowing them to purchase guns? Is this even possible? And more importantly, do these kind of gun restrictions save lives or are they merely knee-jerk responses that only give us the impression of added safety?