Gun Violence and Mass Shootings in America

Gun Violence and Mass Shootings in America

America’s love affair with guns is one of its defining attributes, and the number of mass shootings hit an all-time high in 2019. While politicians vow to tackle the problem, a powerful gun lobby stands in the way.

To help us understand why the US struggles with gun violence on such a massive scale, Dr Peter Squires, an expert on the subject, joins the show. He is a sociologist and professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton, who has worked with many different police forces, and is respected globally for his research into firearms and crime.

Peter screens British director Marc Silver’s acclaimed 3 ½ Minutes, 10 Bullets (2015) in his classes. This film focuses on the 2012 shooting of Jordan Russell Davis and the trial, media coverage and public reaction following the event. This particular shooting raised a lot of questions about gun legislation in America, particularly the ‘stand your ground’ law in Florida, while Marc Silver’s observational documentary lets the audience draw its own conclusions.

With Peter’s in-depth knowledge of gun crime, we examine the case and talk about why gun violence is so much more prevalent in America compared with other countries, even those with high rates of gun ownership. We also investigate why America got into this situation and more importantly what steps can be taken to minimize gun violence in the future.

Like Peter’s students, we too can watch Marc Silver’s film and make up our own mind about what is really behind the culture of fear afflicting so many Americans.

“People can become a dark celebrity very quickly by a horrific act against society.” – Peter Squires

Time Stamps:

01:10 – The topic we are looking at today and introducing the guest.
02:58 – About the film 3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets.
03:44 – Why Peter chose this particular film.
05:17 – A brief synopsis.
06:39 – Why the shooting happened and Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law.
08:37 – The different issues this documentary deals with.
10:16 – The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
11:02 – Peter’s impressions of America as a child.
12:21 – Playing a clip from the film.
15:38 – Why gun violence is much more prevalent in America compared to European countries.
18:42 – Assault rifles and their use in mass shootings.
19:43 – Having a homogenous society and the ‘copycat’ phenomenon.
21:56 – The importance of mental health support.
25:18 – The reasons why gun possession is so high in America.
28:50 – The marketing of the gun industry.
30:30 – What stopped school shootings in England.
33:33 – What the solutions to this problem in America are.
38:38 – The ‘Why did you keep shooting’ clip from the film.
41:54 – If Peter lived in America, would he own a gun? 


3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets
The Gun Violence Archive
Gun crime in global contexts
Marc Silver’s Website

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Episode 5