Trey Kay, Marisa Helms Published

Us & Them Encore: The Gun Divide


Us & Them was recently honored with a first place award for best documentary from Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters. 

Our episode called “The Gun Divide” looks at gun ownership in America, and the way our social, political and racial divisions fuel gun purchases. The year 2020 showed a historic rise in gun violence. Guns killed a record 45,000 people, the majority of them by suicide. 

Us & Them host Trey Kay explores the foundations of the Second Amendment and the cultural and historical beliefs and myths that contribute to our very American divide over guns. 

Gun ownership is at record levels across the country with 40 percent of adults saying they have at least one firearm in their home. But what rights does the Second Amendment give us? 

We’re sharing this award-winning episode with you again, from our archives.

This episode of Us & Them is presented with support from the West Virginia Humanities Council, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation and the CRC Foundation.

Subscribe to Us & Them on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher and beyond.

Don Radcliffe is a pharmacist at Good Family Pharmacy in Pinch, WV. In February 2015, Radcliff shot and killed a masked armed robber from behind the pharmacy counter during a failed robbery. Credit: Trey Kay/West Virginia Public Broadcasting
You can have prescriptions filled at the Good Family Pharmacy in Pinch, WV. They also sell toiletries, vitamins, cosmetics and, as pharmacist Don Radcliff told Us & Them host Trey Kay, they offer customers something a little extra — the pharmacy also sells firearms. This photo shows two of the three gun safes in the pharmacy’s stock room. A stuffed bobcat keeps guard. Credit: Trey Kay/West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Danielle Walker served for five years as a Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. She recently made history by becoming the first African American to serve as the Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia. She is photographed here with Us & Them host Trey Kay. Walker reluctantly bought a firearm after receiving death threats. She says these threats started in 2020 after she attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Kingwood, WV. Credit: Trey Kay/West Virginia Public Broadcasting
In the United States, Black Americans are 10 times more likely to die from gun violence than white Americans. The number goes up for Black children and teens — who are 14 times more likely than white children to die from a gunshot. The small state of West Virginia reveals similar disparities. Data show Black West Virginians are victims of gun homicide at 5 times the rate of white West Virginians. Across the state each year, an average of nearly one person a day is killed by guns. Reverend Matthew Watts has been a pastor at Grace Bible Church on Charleston’s West Side for more than three decades. He also lives in the community, and tries to bring attention to its struggles. Credit: Grace Bible Church
Jim McJunkin is a retired pediatrician in Charleston, WV. He now spends much of his time as an unpaid legislative representative for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. That’s a program launched ten years ago after Sandy Hook — the mass shooting of school children in Newtown, CT. The group is an arm of Everytown, a national organization devoted to stopping gun violence. He is pictured here with Deanna McKinney, a mother whose son was shot and killed on the front porch of her home on Charleston’s West Side. Credit: James McJunkin
Historian Jennifer Tucker specializes in the history of industrialization, science and law. Tucker recently launched the Center for the Study of Guns and Society at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut. Courtesy Photo
Darrell Miller is a Duke University law professor and co-founder of the Duke Center for Firearms Law. He writes and teaches in the areas of civil rights, constitutional law, civil procedure, state and local government law, and legal history. His scholarship on the Second and Thirteenth Amendments has been published in leading law reviews such as the Yale Law Journal, the University of Chicago Law Review, and the Columbia Law Review, and has been cited by the Supreme Court of the United States, the United States Courts of Appeals, the United States District Courts, and in congressional testimony and legal briefs. Credit: Duke Law
Us & Them host Trey Kay practicing his shooting with friends in Bath County, VA. Credit: Christopher Kay