I wanted to look at gun violence from a different angle. I wanted to get past the hyperbole and the entrenched arguments and instead explore a viewpoint nobody thinks about: what happens when you use a gun for the purpose that it’s designed for - to shoot someone.
The Columbine High School 1999 massacre is where it all began for me. I graduated from Columbine 13 years before the shooting and one of the victims was my former basketball coach Dave Sanders. As I sat at his memorial service watching my traumatized teachers weeping, one of the speakers said, “We can’t control what happens. But we can control how we respond.”
After that, I got active.
I wrote a book Beyond the Bullet about 19 people who were shot and how it affected them and their families. As I wrote the book I started to think about the people who pulled the triggers; the people who were behind those bullets.
That led me to write a four-piece series for Ms. Magazine, My Month With a Gun where I carried a 9mm Glock with me everywhere I went so I could experience the emotional and physical ramifications of always being prepared to defend myself and my family from a bad guy.
That experience evolved into Behind the Bullet. The four stories in my documentary focus on common gun violence situations - suicide, accidental child shootings, street crime, and the widespread fear of a home invasion.
Behind the Bullet provides a different perspective on gun violence. Some of the stories came from an NRA website, where they’re heralded as success stories - people who’d heroically upheld the Second Amendment by defending themselves and their families. The PTSD and moral injury that ensues even when the shooting was justified or deemed unintentional under American law is surprising. As the interviews unfold it becomes apparent that the shooters suffer profound anguish, and the reality of being the “good guy with a gun" in America comes into focus.