A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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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?
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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.