Gun Nation

Gun Nation

2016, Society  -   33 Comments
Ratings: 7.23/10 from 69 users.

First published in 2000, Zed Nelson's book of photography titled Gun Nation became a seminal perspective on America's enduring gun fetish. In the years since, the country's love of guns is more prominent than ever before, as is the annual number of gun-related deaths. In this documentary short, Nelson returns to many of the subjects that populated his watershed book, and re-examines a culture that has only become more rabid and divisive.

Hailing from London, Nelson approaches the issue from an outsider's point of view. He recites the harrowing statistics from the outset: since his book was initially produced, there have been over a half a million deaths related to firearms in the United States. The central mission of the film is to determine why - especially given these startling death tolls - so many Americans remain resistant to even the most modest gun law reforms. If any easy answers exist to this troubling dilemma, the film doesn't find them, but it does expose viewers to a wide array of personalities who fall on both sides of the issue.

A shop owner boasts of his ability to order 100 machine guns on a whim. A police chief worries about the country's expanding open carry laws, which grant citizens the right to bring a firearm into restaurants, bars and public parks. A medical examiner illustrates how most shooting deaths occur in domestic situations, and result from the actions of those who are otherwise law abiding. A father continues to deal with the grief of losing his 15-year old son during the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, and fails to understand why more hasn't been done to prevent these types of shootings in the 17 years since.

The filmmakers also catch up with perhaps the most controversial subject of the book, a Texas man who was photographed holding his infant in one arm and a pistol in the other. He argues that the photo illustrated his devotion to protecting his family while his detractors protest with charges of child endangerment.

Gun Nation also tackles issues related to the increasing prevalence of assault weapons, the widespread reach and influence of the National Rifle Association, gun-free zones, and the notion of arming school teachers. The film may not be revelatory in its insights, but it does provide a thoughtful representation of the divides that remain regarding U.S. gun laws.

Directed by: Zed Nelson

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33 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Lee

    My news reader on television literally roll their eye. The articulation they use when they say, "Yet ANOTHER shooting in America yesterday". Then they go on to report the story that the world is sick to death of hearing. Thank goodness I am not raising my SAFE child in this trigger happy gun culture. You made your bed now lie in it. It will take at least 500 years just make a dint on the gun suicide and gun violence. Stay there so your own kids and grandkids can be shot up.

  2. pete

    Americans are paranoid as fck, protect yr neighbours and family from criminals, really? your family and neighbours also have extended family, friends and their own neighbours, FYI your friends and neighbours are the criminals then. Protect yourselves from government? Your neighbours and family are the government, normal people with jobs, you think they are going to take away your and their own freedom without a thought? Oh and China may invade, you think China is going to invade their biggest customer? the country that is throwing them money and making them rich? literally does not makes sense, its all paranoia bullshit.

  3. Mikko

    This is a misreading of history on two levels. First, German citizens as a whole were not disarmed by the Nazis. Jews and other supposed enemies of the state were subject to having their weapons seized. But for most German citizens, the Nazi period was one in which gun regulations were loosened, not tightened.

    Second, a lack of guns was not the issue. If the majority of Germans had wanted to use these guns to fight the Nazis, they could have. But they didn’t. Carson ignores that the Nazis enjoyed significant popular support, or at least, broad acquiescence.

    We rate this claim False.

  4. Mikko

    Actually... Hitler did the exact opposite. He removed gun control restrictions (from everyone except Jews, and even armed Jews would be still easy to be taken down by majority).

    Hitler didn't disarm his citizens, he empowered them!

  5. bobby

    The next lline in psalms 144.1 is--
    My lovingkindness and my fortress.
    Ya'll ready for lovingkindness?

  6. Julia

    This is so sad. "Amazing" USA - these people are giving guns to each other as a gift and they are thinking that everybody is going to kill them or rob them etc. Do you give a weapon - the tool which is created not for other reason than killing - as a gift for X-mas eve in another countries? I don't know any example. Are these people really living in the continuous stress or is it a stupidity? Don't they see that their country is the one with the mass shootings which are caused by in stabilized people who are handed a guy by the US law? How can you be prepared for being shoot by somebody who doesn't care about their life? The absurdity of the sentence that "the surest way to stop the bad guy with a gun is the good guy with a gun" just killed me.

  7. kelsey

    Having guns is the result of fear. People are so afraid of what others do that they cloud themselves and commit the same crime in cry of self defense. People are so concerned that others might hurt them that they close themselves off and put barriers up in the form of guns. So much focus is going on the ‘what-ifs’ of the situation rather than what actually is. It is a fact that crimes get committed, but it is not a fact that protecting yourself from crime by getting closer to the cause of crime will stop the crime. Isolate yourself from the bad, as far away as you can get. Only then can you be safe.
    Carrying a gun is a pursuit of power, power an average person cannot handle. Americans have a hunger for power, it’s almost a religion. Power feeds the ego and ego is selfish. Selfishness is doing whatever you have to, to get what you want. Safety is satisfaction in your surroundings, it’s trust in your community, it’s helping others. Guns prevent safety by replacing it with selfishness.
    Guns have become a ‘well if he has one, i need to have one too’ thing. In America having the law that guns are legal scares the people into buying guns in case someone else has a gun and they get shot. Having the gun law, means people that have guns are more powerful than you and that just can’t be because the ego has learned that superiority is vital.
    Either America has guns or does not. Some having guns and some not results in less protection, everyone having guns results in less protection. Having no guns means more protection because it’s further away from the crime. Only murders kill, what % of criminals make up America? But people become criminals when presented with a criminal device. Just like how regular people can become drug addicts when given the chance to take drugs. Be it temptation, pressure or overwhelming emotion. The mind can change. Normal people can switch and kill if presented with the opportunity. Without this opportunity means less normal people switching, less danger.
    Guns have one purpose, to cause damage. Knives and screwdrivers have many causes, not just to do harm. So when people use these tools they normal use them for the sole purpose in which they were made, just like with any tool or device. They may use them for other things like self defense or other alternate uses but that’s normally not the case as most people are sane and safe. Guns don’t have an alternate use. Meaning, people are going to use guns to cause damage and nothing else. Causing damage is not safety.

  8. Ninjasloth

    wendy wilson - Well, I'm in Canada, and if you came to my church, you'd find that the majority of parishioners are firearms owners and have appropriate licensing. Just because it doesn't exist in your neighbourhood or circle of friends, does not mean it doesn't exist. And it doesn't make my church, my friends or family any better or worse. Just DIFFERENT. Oh, and its next to impossible to own a firearm in Canada if you've ever been convicted of a crime, nor do Canadian firearms owners commit crimes as its guaranteed to cost you your investment in firearms.

    1. Ronco

      Thumbs Up! I am US in Canada and haven't tackled getting firearms over. Uugh! Taking Arms-Up is a known the world over People and for lots of reasons, including recreational! Yes, have lived where "It" exists, but don't live paranoid either. And, I am not nieve enough to believe "It" doesn't exist in beautiful Canada. That said:

      We are a gun loving nation in the US, perpetuated by Very Big Money. I love my homeland guns and all but, we are an example of capitalism gone awry. America 's politics put Profit before People, with the current Admin. the epitome of such and blah blah blah.
      Money, inherently creates haves and have nots. And violence is a world problem often due to socioeconomics at many levels. Why destructive over constructive resolve? Perhaps it is time to rethink the Money paradigm that inherently divides us. Perhaps its time to share equitably the World's limited resources in Constructive ways. After all, Competition squanders those limited world resources. Perhaps it is time to think a resource based world economy. Where might we have been? In a perfect world - Ha!? Will pass on this doc.

  9. DustUp

    Dear webmaster, why is it that my comments often "are awaiting moderation"? Sounds like free speech is dead at TDocFilms. Much like the usa and the rest of the world. Niiiiice.

    1. TDF

      Dear DustUp,

      Please read the comment policy. Your comments are automatically held for moderation (no humans involved) if they contain some flag words. Sometimes the machine will flag false negative. Thank you for your understanding.

  10. DustUp

    Statistics are always a "wonderful" thing. One has to realize the usa simply has more people than Canada or the UK or Germany or Norway or Australia, etc. and has allowed in more people warranting protection from. However, per capita excess ventilation by gunshot is similar to some those other countries, you just don't hear that in our "wonderful" marxist agenda driven media owned by those who don't want the populous to have guns so they can implement what they really want, communism. Soviet Lenin stated that the purpose of socialism is communism. Look what the wonderful socialists Lenin and Stalin did to their own people. What if the people still had their guns when Hitler came to power? Is their a reason SWITZERLAND has never been invaded? Gee could it be that every able bodied man has been trained by the military and has a rifle in their closet? Nah, it was just magic.

    Those who want gun control, please move to a country that has it. Leave if you don't like The Constitution. Socialists, marxists, communists, and the ignorant are always wanting to change the rules to their liking. If it were soccer or some other sport they would be wanting to change the rules so only they could win. People would be laughing at that and suggest they move to a sport they like, such as pin the tail on the donkey or Russian Roulette. Where do most all the mass shootings occur in the usa? Gun restricted locations; all except one. There was also the case in a town in Texas years back which was over run by criminals, muggings in broad daylight, robberies, etc. The mayor proclaimed that all needed to carry a firearm while in town. As soon as that was announced, the criminals left.

    How insane does a person have to be to believe the criminals are going to give up their guns? I've never lived in a city or town that didn't have some of their police force tossed in jail for crime. The brilliant enlightened gun control useful idiots would have you believe it would be impossible for a crime boss to get elected as mayor and appoint his underlings to offices such as chief of police, etc. Seems to me it already has occurred at the national level with the Clintons. The string of murders related to them is rather long and occurred right up until the latter days of the election. But of course that never happened because it wasn't on the boob tube. Who was Saul Alinsky and what did he teach Hillary? Did Obama follow much of his teachings from his book "Rules for Radicals"?

    The reason for the 2nd amendment is 2 fold: First and foremost is protection FROM Govt. Distant second is protection from all the rest of the threats.

    The sad thing and the usa's biggest problem is those who have been indoctrinated by the socialist education system reinforced by the socialist media. If they would pull their heads out, look further than their own crap, get some oxygen, it would do us all a favor.

  11. mke m

    gun people are funny,,,,,,,(when they'er not dangerous)
    kinda like kids

  12. George

    Why did you ignore the 3% of the population that commits almost 1/2 the violent crime, young Black males. White culture talks about the need for protection. The Black thug cultures glorifies killing for the sake of killing.

  13. Frank John

    The more urbanized we became, the more deaths from shootings occured. The more drugs that came into the country, the more deaths occurred. That's not a coincidence. Get rid the the bad drugs, legalize the maryjane and go from there. Spend more money on educating the kids on drug use.

  14. Glenn Luttrell

    My Dad bought me an air rifle when I was 16, when I was 18 I bought a semi automatic 22 cal and when I was 29 I bought a 30 30 lever action, done a bit of shooting for ferrel animals but never shot anyone or even pointed a gun at anybody but we had a mass shooting here just off Australia in which our Prime Minister disarmed the population resulting in good guys unarmed and now we have shootings on a daily basis and the bad guys have the guns and the crimes are usually drug related.

  15. Wade Bishop

    I am very much pro 2nd. amendment. Even if there was gun control, criminals would always get there hands on guns. There will always be wars and people fighting for what ever reason. If there were no guns it would just go back to more medieval times when people fought with knives, swords and bows. Either way people will be killed.

  16. NormDePlume

    Blinkered and one-sided. Just about what I'd expect from The Guardian on this topic though.

  17. wendy wilson

    Well in Canada... if you came to my church .. and asked the same question... no one would have a gun permit ... or a gun ..

  18. AM

    The only sane people in this doco are the gunshop owners,a weird type of irony

  19. scubahalo

    Leftist/Marxist propaganda, pure and simple. Don't be sucked in by this trash. If they try to go after the Second Amendment (the First will no doubt be next) there will be blood - and lots of it.

  20. Richard Raymond

    "Let natural selection take its course." Sorry, but there's nothing "natural" about getting shot and killed by a gun. Time to amend the second amendment. God, Guns & Gays; that's what seems to concern Americans throughout their daily lives. So glad I'm Canadian.

  21. mike mathwig

    get rid of the guns!

  22. Tim

    Planet of the Apes.

  23. Sandpiper

    In the past when the Brits got their tail in a crack whom did call! The YANKS!

  24. Sandpiper

    Psalms 144.1 Blessed be the Lord my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: Life Application Bible, FJV

  25. idahoguner

    do you own your guns or do they own you?

  26. cyberdog

    If he doesn't like it, Nelson is always welcome to f-off back to occupied England, grow a pair of balls and stand up for his own country while it is drowning.

  27. Roger Andout

    A private citizen REALLY DOES need a SUV mounted with a Browning M2 AND a SAW ... for home protection, no doubt. Indefensible, if you'll pardon the pun.

  28. Stefan

    "Let naturial selection take it's course" - sounds like Germany 70 years ago... I assume he at the same time believes in creationism and doesn't get the contradiction there. The US really have a sick view of the world.

  29. Shiraba

    I see how America is detrimental to the world. Pathetic and sad.

  30. Mark Maloney

    An unarmed citizenry is easily occupied; and an armed citizenry, well, won the war of independence...

  31. Mals

    Weak. Very weak. The inner city was ignored completely.