Under the Gun

Movie review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Under the Gun Movie Poster Image
Emotional gun control docu addresses complex issue.
  • R
  • 2016
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Supports responsible gun use and open communication.

Positive Role Models & Representations

NRA members and extreme pro-gun folks (including legislators) aren't viewed/presented favorably. 


Lots of discussions about shooting deaths, loss of children, loved ones. Brief references to seeing shots to the head, post-shooting wounds. Archived news footage of police response to mass shootings (though no actual bloody images). Threats; including crude ones related to sexual violence. 


"Ass," "bitch," "f--k," rude gestures.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Substance abuse briefly referenced. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Under the Gun is a Katie Couric-narrated documentary that argues for the need for comprehensive gun control legislation. It contains archival news footage of post-assassination attempts, mass shootings, and other related events. There's also some cursing (including "f--k"), and references to crude threats of sexual violence. Many of the conversations featured here aren't easy, and some viewers may find the images and descriptions of events disturbing. The filmmakers have also admitted to some potentially biased editing choices, which may or may not color viewers' experience of the film.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byJCol28 November 15, 2018

Great Insight into 'Common Sense' Gun Legistlation

This film gave me an insight into the sort of 'gun loving' culture that exists amongst a large portion of American people, and how the issue of gun de... Continue reading
Adult Written bywoodycoates May 29, 2016

Sorry this website has become political

When my son was little I trusted this site to help me research his media choices. It was helpful, but not the only tool I used.
It has become clear this site ha... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

From the creators of Fed Up, UNDER THE GUN is a documentary that takes the position that the United States has failed to address gun violence in a meaningful way. Narrated by Katie Couric, it uses archival news footage to look at gun-related violence in national headlines over the years, examining the reactions of American citizens and the U.S. government as a result. Through interviews with parents who lost their children to shooters in Sandy Hook, Aurora, Santa Cruz, and on the streets of Chicago, it highlights some of the grassroots efforts being made to limit gun sales and curb violence. The efforts of Mark Kelly, husband of former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords -- who survived a gun assassination attempt in 2011 -- to actively support legislators fighting for gun control, is also documented. Conversations with a range of experts and policymakers help deconstruct the roles of lobbying groups, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), and explain gun legislation, policy loopholes, and issues within the government that contribute to the situation.

Is it any good?

This decidedly pro-gun control documentary offers an in-depth, emotionally charged look at the very complex issue of gun violence. It uses the tragic stories of some of the country's most notorious assassinations and mass shootings as a platform to examine (and, from its perspective, ideally dispel) concerns about gun legislation, especially background checks for gun purchasers. It also seeks to drive home the research and statistics that the filmmakers posit support the need for these rules. While government agencies' apparent inability to enforce these policies is addressed, it's the political power of the NRA -- and its efforts to pressure Congress to eliminate any and all restrictions on gun acquisition and ownership -- that's a central theme throughout most of the film's conversations. 

In an attempt to move away from the polarizing, never-ending conversations about 2nd Amendment rights, the film calls for a willingness to take a harder look at the reasons why people engage in violent gun behavior, while moving away from conversations about crime and the stigmatization of some communities. But it's the stories of those who've lost loved ones, and some of the chilling footage shown from these and subsequent events, that are the most powerful. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there's no doubt that Under the Gun will leave you feeling sad, and possibly very angry. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the gun control debate in the United States. How much impact does violence shown in the media have on the way Americans think about guns and gun control?

  • Are documentaries supposed to take a position or remain unbiased? Why or why not? 

  • Do you have to agree with a movie's point of view to enjoy it?

Movie details

  • In theaters: May 13, 2016
  • On DVD or streaming: May 31, 2016
  • Cast: Katie Couric
  • Director: Stephanie Soechtig
  • Studio: Epix
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Run time: 110 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: strong language including a crude reference
  • Last updated: September 20, 2019

Our editors recommend

For kids who love serious issues

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate