It is estimated that between 270 million and 310 million guns are privately owned across America. Yet despite the growing possession of arms, the gun debate is also something that continues to grow. Producers James Dann and Richard Morel explore the debate in 2nd Amendment.
As part of this documentary James Dann and Richard Morel discover and observe the alternating opinions of the American public. It confronts the provision of an amendment that seeks to protect the right of individuals in America to keep and bear arms. And it presents the tensions and consequences of what such a reality currently accesses, and what it may be allowed to access in the future.
Lydia Hughes: How would you describe 2nd Amendment?
James Dann: It's basically two outsiders [James Dann and Richard Morel] looking into a culture that they don't understand. It's two people going somewhere because they hear so many different viewpoints about gun legislation and everything going on in the States. Two people having no first-hand experience as to what's going on other than seeing things in the news. So it's about trying to present the world -- what's actually going on in America at the moment -- from a very neutral perspective, without being on any political side.
LH: Who does it gain the opinions of?
JD: We've got people who are from firing-range owners to people who live in the woods by themselves, and their gun is literally their only companion. We've got psychologists, we've got people who have been affected by guns directly, others who live next to their gun because they think it's the only way to protect themselves. We definitely left there with more questions than answers. We got a billion different opinions from every angle you can think of.
LH: Of those people, whose opinion seems to be the most poignant to you, and why?
JD: We interviewed this woman called Leah, who runs 'New Yorkers Against Gun Violence,' and her opinions were very factual-based -- emotional as well, because her brother was shot in the head and killed, despite owning a gun which he couldn't reach in time. Which argues against the fact that having a gun will protect you. And then the complete polar opposite is a guy called Don, who lives in the woods, and has very few friends and family surrounding him. His only son was killed in the Iraq war, and he uses multiple weaponry to protect himself in his rural house.
LH: Has the making of 2nd Amendment, and the insight that you've gained from your research, changed where you stand on the issue?
JD: I don't know whether it's made me change where I stand on the issue but, if anything, it's made me more neutral because we had such convincing arguments from every person. It's sort of centred me more. I went there expecting to leave being on one side or the other. But I've definitely come back thinking, 'How many more perspectives are there?'
LH: Dick Metcalf, long-time writer for Guns & Ammo, got fired recently for writing that the constitutional right to bear arms is subject to regulation. Do you think America holds preference for the second amendment over other constitutional rights, such as the freedom of speech?
JD: A huge amount of Americans do love their guns, definitely. Those that are strong supporters of the Second Amendment sometimes fear it is somewhat under attack. And this raises its priority in terms of how much it's discussed and presented in the media, as well as how highly it seems to be regarded by others.
LH: What will 2nd Amendment tell people that they don't already know?
JD: It'll tell them what's actually happening in America. It's not like a statistical documentary; we're going to show them all the things that don't make it to the news, showing them the real people behind the quotes that they read online. It shows families and the people who have these guns, and the actual reasons behind why people think they need guns -- the personalities behind the statistics.
LH: What are you hoping to achieve in the output of this documentary?
JD: I'm hoping to shed light on what's actually happening. I'm hoping people will have a better understanding of why this is such a hot topic at the moment, and that they go away thinking, 'Whoa, I never knew that. That's a fair point.' Hopefully, they'll understand more about where people are coming from, and why it's such a difficult debate.
LH: Are you hoping for some kind of revolution?
JD: I'm mostly hoping to raise awareness and make people stop and think before they buy a gun, and question whether they really need it.
LH: And how wide-spread are you hoping this film will go?
JD: Hopefully everywhere. Mostly in the UK, America and Europe. The whole film is just about spreading awareness of what's going on there, about some very unreported situations. That was the original intention.
LH: Where does the debate end? Or will it never?
JD: I don't think the debate will ever end. There are people who have personally been shot at, or whose family have been killed by guns, and people who have never used a gun in their life other than at a firing range and can't understand why their guns are being taken away. Liking guns doesn't mean you like anything about shooting. It could mean you like the challenge, it could mean you like bonding with your grandson, or that you like going on family trips. It doesn't mean that you like standing there with a machine gun in your house waiting for someone to come in. But these are all the people who the statistics lie behind. And trying to get people to agree on things when they come from such different worlds is impossible. I don't think the debate will ever end.
For more information visit www.2ndamendmentfilm.com. Expected release date: end of February.