Of all the subjects guaranteed to get a rise out of everyone faced with a question about it, gun law is one of them that leaves some commentators foaming at the mouth, screaming about their constitutional rights. If you don’t believe this, check out any online review of this film and read the anti and pro comments, that bleed through from well informed opinion to mad ranting. Welcome to the gun debate, something that we have already seen tackled on the big screen by Michael Moore after the Columbine tragedy and now Katie Couric takes another look following the horrors of the Sandy Hook killings.
Where Under The Gun succeeds is that it basically shines your pre-conceptions through a prism, it allows both sides equal time to talk and explain their position, it does not try and present only one side as being right, it quietly sits back and lets the players run the game and allows you to make your own decisions. Occasionally there are moments that will hit you, whether it be the emotional clout of a parent opening a box of his infants last belongings, or another parent raging at the commemorative cross they were given, crying “I don’t want your I’m So Sorrys, I want you to go out and do something about it”. On a more logistical level, it is insane to see the ATF has no right to collect gun ownership on computer, so instead of just typing in a serial number when a crime takes place, the workers have to physically go to the piles and piles of boxes both inside and stored outside the office, in order to track down the records. Nothing dangerous is found in three days? That’s a loophole and you can then just be given another firearm, danger or not.
Probably the part that touched me the most was the senators talking about ‘those with mental issues’, as if this was the great elephant in the room and the usual gun owner was just the boy next door and it was ‘these crazies’ who are responsible for all the murders. Now look again at the facts the film gives you – only 5% of gun crimes are committed by those with mental illnesses. Remember of course, that suicide is technically still a crime and so out of 33,000 deaths by gun, 21000 of them are crimes against oneself. Now look at the footage of NRA ‘freedom’ fighters protestng in front of the mothers of murdered kids. Sure, it is your right, but is it RIGHT? This is the big question throughout this excellent documentary and whether you feel comforted or horrified by a ‘nice’ calm mother going out to dinner in her small town and placing her gun lovingly on the floor next to her handbag, Under The Gun is a great watch. Just expect to FEEL. A lot.