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Guns In The USA - Child's Play: Tonight on Four Corners | @ABCTV @4Corners

ProgrammingKevin Perry

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“This is Dahlia's gun,” says proud dad Anthony, as he unwraps a purple mini rifle and hands it to his five-year-old daughter. “I'm teaching you what's safe and what's not safe, ok? This is how you're going to shoot.”

This is America, where gun ownership is seen as a normal, even essential, part of life.

“Instead of trying to scare the children into saying don't touch this gun or else, well let's explain to them why. What can go wrong?” Tim Guy, NRA Trainer

It’s also a country where a startling number of children and teens are killed or injured by a gun every year. Some die in horrific mass shootings but many are killed accidentally, with a weapon kept in the family home.

“That gun does not actually make your family safer. That gun is 42 times more likely to be used to take the life of a member of that household than of an intruder.” Dan Gross, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

In this fascinating journey across the United States we meet parents, teachers and gun advocates who argue vehemently that guns are not the problem.

“I think it's really just education and just making them understand, it can be fun. And you can be safe and have a good time.” Nashville Mother
“I teach people to be prepared to fight evil when evil shows up.” Rob Pincus, Personal Defense Network

And then there’s the man bulletproofing classrooms with armour-plated whiteboards:

“It’s designed to go into schools, be something you can teach with, much like an artist's pallet. But two hands, and this thing becomes both a defensive and an offensive weapon.” George Tunis, Armour Protection Manufacturer

As a political issue, gun ownership is red hot. President Barack Obama has made it a signature policy but the President and gun control activists face an uphill battle.

“Together we are shining a spotlight on extremist policies that the gun lobby used to pass in the dark. The gun lobby is worried about losing their profits and their influence, well guess what we're worried about: we're worried about losing our children.” Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action on Gun Sense

Powerful lobby groups like the National Rifle Association, fiercely oppose any form of gun control as an attack on liberty and freedom and have helped resist attempts to strengthen gun ownership laws arguing what’s needed is more guns and better self protection.

“The only way, the only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved in investing in a plan of absolute protection. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” Wayne LaPierre, Exec Vice President, National Rifle Association
“Right now there is a huge disconnect between what the American public wants, what's in our best interest, what will actually save lives, and keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” Dan Gross, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence

GUNS IN THE USA, from French broadcaster France 5, presented by Sarah Ferguson, goes to air on Monday 22 February at 8.30pm. It is replayed onTuesday 23rd Feb at 10.00am and Wednesday 24th at 11pm. It can also be seen on ABC News 24 on Saturday at 8.00pm and ABC iview.