Is America Obsessed with Guns?

Monday marks the tenth anniversary of the massacre at Columbine High School in the American state of Colorado which left 12 students and a teacher dead. It was a pivotal moment for the movement to crack down on US gun culture. A decade later, gun-related violence in the US continues unabated.

On Saturday, Newshour will take a close look at the gun culture in the US and will ask why it continues to be such a bitterly divisive issue for Americans. It is time to listen to the gun-control lobby? If you own a gun, what does it mean to you?

36 Responses to “Is America Obsessed with Guns?”

  1. 1 VictorK
    April 17, 2009 at 20:58

    Is the BBC obsessed with guns in America?

  2. 2 Anthony
    April 17, 2009 at 21:38

    I have 3 myself, but I think the problem is with the citizens. The Columbine kids (Eric and Dylan) thought they were “higher” than everyone else, and actually said in their journals that they were more highly evolved than regular humans. I think that Atheists (which I have heard is 16% of America) need lessons on “Morality without God”. They follow God their whole life, then all of a sudden don’t believe, and they think they don’t have to follow any rules, since life doesn’t really matter. I wish there was some outreach for these Atheists.

    To me, owning a gun reminds me of what this coutry SHOULD stand for, which it doesn’t anymore. I wish we had a WELL maintained militia, just like our founding fathers wanted. Plus they are SUPER fun to shoot. And in the unlikely event of something crazy, I’ll be prepared to protect myself against the lowlife gangmembers around my town, or even rise up if I had too.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  3. 3 Bert
    April 17, 2009 at 21:59

    Is the USA obsessed with guns? In a word, “yes” is the answer.

    Not only that, but those so obsessed have a way of becoming indignant and of jutting jaw when their hobby is questioned. Like someone questioning the holy writ to a religious fanatic.

  4. 4 Robert in Indianapolis (USA)
    April 17, 2009 at 22:09

    Stop making the assault at Columbine High into a gun issue. It is a bullies awareness issue. When the news of the Columbine assault came out my first thought was what took so long. Let’s face it, kids can be cruel enough without an adult helping by turning a blind eye. It could have been me twenty years before then, in seventh grade. But I wouldn’t have needed a gun. I knew enough about gasoline, gas pipes and timers to have leveled the school block. But one pair of teachers saw that I was being singled out and picked on. Those boys outsmarted their town. If the adults in charge had kept their heads on straight the incident wouldn’t have gone past the first black t-shirt.

    April 17, 2009 at 22:17


    America provides the whole hemisphere with guns, we are witnessing a drug war in Mexico, with most of the guns coming from the US. We have a shortage of ammunition due to a huge increase in gun sales since Obama came to office.

    If, however, you dare to speak up for gun control, you will be attacked by a number of organizations and people. When the National Rifle Association came to Columbine, a member told the mother of a victim to go mourn for her child and stop making a fuss about gun control.

  6. April 18, 2009 at 04:58

    Stop making the assault at Columbine High into a gun issue. It is a bullies awareness issue.

    If those bullies hadn’t had guns – those people would not be dead.

    I await the first American who believes guns will ‘free’ them because they have a pea-shooter to shoot down a F-16 at 29,000 feet and destroy an Abrams MBT.

    Once you have done that you will have a valid reason to have guns to avoid tyranny.

    If the American military decided to turn on the American people, which it won’t, look what 3 Navy Seals can do with a bullet each – and you believe a hand gun could stop them – I kinda beg to differ.

  7. April 18, 2009 at 05:01

    No, There are 300,000,000 guns in America. That is just about what the population is. There are also about 240,000,000 motor vehicles in America.

    For the sheer number of both guns and cars there really are very few of them used illegally and wrongly.

    two million crimes are prevented by citizen producing guns against burglers, and dangerous people.

    The real issue is a spiraling number of people not being responsible raising their children.

    Most people killed with guns are killed by guns are bad guys killed by other bad guys ……. weird gang wars, drug deals gone bad. We already have many laws against criminals and bad people. troop on the Oregon coast.

  8. April 18, 2009 at 06:46

    There’s a definite fascination with projectile firearms in this country as evidenced by the sheer volume of gun magazines I see compared with Scientific American, Astronomy or New Scientist. I think magazine racks very much reflect a region’s interests and concerns. The US, it seems, is largely concerned with weddings, home making, guns, attractive women, fast cars and celebrities.

    But then again, does the fascination with guns come from the large amount of magazines available for those interested, or does that media come from the interest?

  9. April 18, 2009 at 14:11

    As a British citizen living in Northern New Mexico were it is described by the locals as the wild west, everyone has a gun. Those individuals who use their guns to prove their point are a reflection of the lack of overall education, that is knowing how to communicate effectively. Expressing opinions and feelings and allowing others to express theirs could define a civilised soiceity. I have experienced a mindset here that is largely intolerant to those ways that are different than the norm ( this is rural America!) Consquently one feels one cannot say too much or else people get angry very quickly! The level of violence is just there below the surface. There is a curious national identity in owning a gun, people obiviously feel empowered by this but perhaps, just like driving a car the mistakes can be fatal.

  10. 10 chichi
    April 18, 2009 at 16:54

    it beats my imagination why any right thinking person would be fascinated by firearms.

  11. 11 Luci Smith
    April 18, 2009 at 18:07

    I hate guns and the American amendment to the Constitution that gives people the right to own them!That is one of the reasons that I emigrated from Texas to Denmark.
    I do not believe that normal people ought to own guns and I disliked Charleton Heston and I abhor the NRA!

    USA Today had an article on Wed. about the Columbine Kids and it was pretty scary reading.

    As a pacifist, I really would like to see all those weapons melted down and destroyed. If people want to fight with each other, they can use their hands or arm wrestle.

    Mostly I believe that we all should talk and try not to spend so much time provoking each other. People with guns are doing crazy things in America almost every day now and I find it rather scary. I think that it is good that the BBC is looking at this issue, since it really is an American blind-spot.

  12. 12 Luci Smith
    April 18, 2009 at 18:15

    When I read what Anthony wrote about guns, it makes me want to be sick (throw up). Breaking the speeding limit is fun, too, but it is illegal.

    I think that guns are the most ugly, smelly weapons of mass destruction right before cars and that only special armed police officers ought to have them. Look how they outlawed fox hunting in the UK, guns ought to be outlwed in every form, shape and size!


    The world needs peace and not weapons.

  13. April 19, 2009 at 02:44

    For Americans, Guns, are the Canary in the mine shaft, concerning freedom.

    If the government no longer trusts the masses, there will no doubt be a revolution to get rid of a system that can govern. That is what the American Revolution is all about. Smart Democrates have finally figured out, that the minute you blame the masses on the sins of a few bad guys…unacceptable.

    The ability to at least have a personal right to defend self against a government that could and may go bad…..and of course the bad guys that show up to rob, rape and pillage when there is no cop or bobby around……..the reason yanks cling to the personal right to own firearms.


  14. 14 Marge
    April 19, 2009 at 06:23

    The world is awash with guns – not just America. If those gun manufacturers could be closed down the world would stand a chance to be peaceful. Just think – a single person armed with a gun can get a roomful of people to obey him – what power that gun has!

  15. 15 Jim Newman
    April 19, 2009 at 12:41

    Hello again
    I think the USA is obsessed by gratuitous violence and this disease is steadily infecting the rest of the world.

    • 16 J Secord
      April 26, 2009 at 01:16

      Yeah, right. Violence never existed before the birth of America. At least an American has some chance to level the playing field between him or herself and any murderous thug who thinks he can just take whatever he wants from us. I would rather live in a country where there is some very small chance that I might be killed by a nut with a gun, than live as a defenseless slave in some socialist paradise.

  16. 17 Tony Caban
    April 19, 2009 at 14:01

    Thats like asking is the Poke Catholic. The US is as obsessed with guns as it is with itself.
    I note that people have commented that crimes are committed using illegal guns. That is not the case when these massacres occur at schools, restaurants etc. A friend of mine was in the US recently and said he went to a supermarket and the ‘gun paraphernalia (including rounds) was on shelves next to toys’. So it is no wonder there is an obsession in the US for guns and violence.

  17. April 19, 2009 at 17:47

    Guns are works of art and shooting them properly also an art which takes careful training to be acquired. The use of guns has a strict safety and disciplinary code.
    Accidents among hunters are a rare occurrence.
    In many countries must presumptive gun owners follow a training course and sit for an exam before being granted a permit.
    Gun crimes are usually highly publicized.
    They often follow the pattern shown in movies. Westerns for instance. Where burials are never shown. Only shooting with marksman accuracy and the speed of light but never the removal of the victim. Does not that appear to be the model for hamok gunmen to whom no outcome is left other than suicide.
    How about control of those scenarios.
    Ammunition supply: this where control should begin. Nobody need to have several hundred rounds of ammunition in stock at any time.
    The number of guns owned for various uses could also be limited
    There should be a purpose and proof thereof to own a gun.
    Not owning guns for no set reason for it.

  18. 19 globalcomedy
    April 20, 2009 at 04:51

    Yes. Not all but many people want guns because of fear. And they don’t know the full power of them.

    If you want to own a gun, you should have to take a very expensive training course. Spend time on a firing range to qualify. And then, you must spend time on a range to keep it. If you don’t, you lose the permit and have to start all over again. THEN, you’ll understand the power of a gun.

    (FYI: I’ve fired 12 and 20 gauge shotguns, a 22, 30.06, and a .45 caliber pistol).

  19. 20 Robert in Indianapolis (USA)
    April 20, 2009 at 06:11

    The origins of our love affair with the gun has been lost in the shouting. First of all, we wouldn’t be our own nation if we had not raised our guns up as citizens. Secondly, we gain solace through them as a reason for our government to remain civil to the masses. And third (but not last) it was a tool in the expansion of our country, not only for combat but for hunting.

  20. 21 Jennifer
    April 20, 2009 at 15:27

    I wonder if my previous post didn’t go through. It was sent through my bb so maybe……..I’ll try again.

    Is America obsessed with guns?

    Yes, I think we are. Please see Amendment 2 of the US Constitution for the reason. It is a right. I don’t want my rights taken away. I am not an uneducated, careless, trigger happy person neither are the majority of gun owners.

    Troop said it correctly. The issue with Columbine was a lack of parenting and intervention. It is the main issue that has still not been addressed. Taking away the rights of people so that parents don’t have to parent is not going to do anything to curb violence. It would simply take another form. Watch Lock-up and see all the shakedowns they do; prisoners craft shanks from toothbrushes, you wouldn’t believe how crafty!

  21. April 20, 2009 at 15:58

    Its a way of life in America, nothing can be done to change it, just as you cant tell americans to stop eating hamburgers and drinking beer.

  22. 23 niko
    April 20, 2009 at 18:37

    If you live by the gun you die by the gun, the Yanks just love peddling guns. Just witness the carnage in the Mexican drug wars, the thousands of dead bodies. Even in Iraq,Vietnam and Afghanistan, thousands of dead bods killed by US guns.
    They build the productive factories in guns and humvees and they don’t make money but losing jobs for the people as well.
    They should learn from NZ, Aust and UK where guns are strictly controlled

    • 24 J Secord
      April 26, 2009 at 01:30

      Yes, guns are strictly controlled in the UK and so are the people. That’s the point.
      Free speech doesn’t exist in the UK and the people are led about like sheep, losing more and more of their rights with each passing year. Unfortunately, the government has little to fear from an unarmed populace.

  23. 25 Bram
    April 21, 2009 at 10:04

    I think it is possible in every Western country to purchase a gun, legal or illegal, to duplicate the Columbine massacre. Therefore, you can’t blame the ‘US gun culture’ for this specific incident, but I am absolutely not trying to defend it.
    It is scaring that the American population actually seems one big army and it does look plausible that a conflict can end up far more easily in a gunfight, resulting in gunrelated violence.
    I can also understand that Americans (though I do not want to generalize) want to hold on to their (basic?) right but I think they hold on too tight to their amendment.

    • 26 Adam
      April 27, 2009 at 21:40

      “It is scaring that the American population actually seems one big army…”

      That is exactly the point of the 2nd ammendment.

  24. April 21, 2009 at 20:47

    The question we should be asking is what is going on with the world to cause people to engage in mass murder?

    Prior to 1968, America did not have any meaningful gun control & you could even have a gun mailed straight to your home rather than having to go to a gun dealer. In other words, for most of it’s history, America lacked any real control over guns. Apart from the criminally motivated St Valentines Day Massacre & the aberration of Charles Whitman in 1966, there was a marked absence of mass killings, even though there was little gun control. The same was true throughout most of the Western World & was certainly the case in Canada, the UK, Australia & New Zealand as regards the easy availability of firearms until the late 1960’s.

    What have we done throughout the world to make our younger population commit such horrible acts?? Is it exposure to increasingly graphic films & TV programs? Is it video games? Or is it part of the lack of socializing with our neighbors & community? SOMETHING has changed & not for the better.

  25. April 22, 2009 at 06:25

    If I wanted to CAUSE Americans to be obsessed with guns and boost sales to the max, I’d do exactly what lefty does. Shoot himself in the political foot like that’s the whole idea behind metaphorical guns.

    But my question is, what if you wanted a massive boost in patriotism, understanding of core principles, devotion to liberty and capitalistic freedom, admiration and respect for returning warriors, undoing the damage that idiots abroad tried to inflict on our character, etc etc etc., I’d put a marxist sabotuer terrorist hugging twit like Oblamer in office.

    Just one possible scenario. “Paranoid” or not, weirder things have happened here.

  26. April 23, 2009 at 06:36

    TV & movie media writers use guns to substitute for plot writing ability. Our media-driven consumer ( that word makes me think of grasshoppers or something…) “culture” is all about promoting destructive behavior, as it promotes sales of cars, alco-beverages, unnecessary possessions, inappropriate relationship skills and questionable “health remedies”. Unsurprising conclusion, commercial media exists primarily to promote sales of goods and services by creating a market.

    Guns are tools, an as such are able to be abused. Just like cars, a wide variety of readily available chemicals and solvents, electricity, fire, gravity etc. As long as “Amurrican” folks are getting their education primarily from TV commercials, cop dramas and violent movies, little will change. Inert mechanical hardware has never been the root cause of our species problems. It’s that BEHAVIOUR thing…

  27. 30 Jim Newman
    April 23, 2009 at 08:04

    Hello again
    And hello zeroKnots. I can’t say that I agree with what you wrote but it was couched in such poetry that I thank you for writing it anyway.

  28. 31 Jim Newman
    April 23, 2009 at 08:09

    Hello again
    And hello zeroKnots. I can’t say that I agree with what you wrote but it was couched in such poetry that I thank you for writing it anyway.

  29. 32 Rich
    April 27, 2009 at 09:44

    What is the British fascination with America and her peoples guns and there fire arm Rights ??

    Are Brits obsessed with Americas Guns ??

  30. 33 missann
    July 27, 2009 at 08:37

    If only officers and military owned guns, how hard would it be for an even more corrupt government or establishment to overtake citizens with no protection? It is foolish to assume that just because a person has a badge that they are a respectable citizen. Ignorance regarding gun use applies to all walks of life.
    Americans are obssesed with guns. I am an “American” and I have been exposed to this obsession and fantasies about guns since I was a child. Every show on tv seems to be a parade of people being murdered, raped, etc. This is not family tv but this is the type of brainwashing most families are watching on a daily basis.
    Gun control is a joke. There are several laws in place to prevent the “thugs” from obtaining a gun, yet look in any classified ad and you can go to someone’s house and avoid the background check and waiting period.
    Taking guns away from the general population will not solve anything. There will still be violence and unthinkable crimes. Of course almost everyone in the world has to have a scapegoat to point at for their’s or other’s lack of morals.

  31. 34 Gonzo
    August 3, 2009 at 07:14

    Obsessed? No, not really. If anything they are obsessed with their rights! I am a gun owner and a Naturalized U.S. citizen from a small war torn country. As a U.S. Army combat veteran and Senior Weapons Instructor firearms were merely the tools of my trade, I am retired now. That and they are a lot of fun at the range when I sport shoot. Having once been the victim of a violent crime when I was unarmed and later having defended myself, saved my life, with my revolver I can clearly state I will not surrender my arms on anyone else’s say so. My firearms are only tools for both sport and self defense. As for BRITISH interest in American guns, why bother? The Brits accepted their masters/betters disarming of them as well they should have. Mind your own business since you Brits surrendered any claim you may have had in this and let Americans mind their business.

  32. 35 james
    January 15, 2010 at 03:51

    Guns are the way!!

  33. 36 Tony
    January 17, 2010 at 06:04

    ” james
    January 15, 2010 at 03:51

    Guns are the way!! ”

    Only to violent fools

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