Trey Kay, Marisa Helms Published

Us & Them: The Gun Divide

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America has roughly 400 million guns in circulation. Our divisions – social, political and racial – and our fear of those differences fuel even more gun purchases. 2020 showed a historic rise in gun violence. Guns killed a record 45,000 people, the majority of them by suicide.

In this episode of Us & Them we explore 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? And what happens if our collective arsenal intersects with our widespread distrust of our institutions, our government, and each other?

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

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Trey Kay
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.
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Trey Kay
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.
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Trey Kay
Danielle Walker is a Democratic member of the West Virginia House of Delegates. She is the only African American woman in the West Virginia State Legislature. She is photographed here with Us & Them host Trey Kay. Delegate 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.
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Grace Bible Church
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.
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Jim McJunkin
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, Connecticut. 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.

Jennifer Tucker
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.
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Duke Law
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.
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Chris Kay
Us & Them host Trey Kay practicing his shooting with friends in Bath County, VA.