« Reveal

Where criminals get their guns

2017-12-02 | 🔗

Across the country, criminals are arming themselves in unexpected ways. In Florida, they’re stealing guns from unlocked cars and gun stores. In other places, they’re getting them from the police themselves, as cash-strapped departments sell their used weapons to buy new ones. On this episode of Reveal, we learn where criminals get their guns and what cars can teach us about gun safety.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey! It is your favorite host in all of pod custom. Now for the rest of the year, I'm gonna be asking you to join us by becoming a member of reveal reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter for more than three years now reveal has been fighting a lawsuit. That's been jeopardizing our very existence of restore we about an organization called planet aid. Our story raises serious questions about whether international aid was actually reaching the people. It was intended to help and what's more, our story was truthful and we stand by it. We believe it is our duty to fight attacks like this, but fighting a lawsuit comes at a huge costs, are legal fees alone totalled more than seven million dollars? Luckily, we have pro bono legal support to help our in house counsel, but it still takes significant resources, resources that should be used to do more public service journalists, this kind of investigative,
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first questions law enforcement had to figure out where the gunman got their weapons is a key question. For every gun, related crime. In those cases it was easy to figure out Stephen in Devon, Patrick Kelly, purchased their weapons, a gun stores a lot of the time. The gun trail is mercury like in this case we begins in my home town Jacksonville floor. It was early in the morning back in August. Twenty forty one, a couple things crap: the long driveways ones wind cave lane they touch on the handles of cars parked on the wide street. Looking for once that one laughed when it find one they'd rummaged through the glove come Parliament's and the council's, taking with ever they can find sunglasses cash from. Unlock candle court, a black forty caliber pissed that gun spit
it must change hands and making its way south. Nearly two hundred miles before leading in carbon springs small city in Florida step baby that December. Just days before Christmas, the police in time and springs get a call and two in the morning from a residence at the Glens, Eureka Apartments complaining that music blaring from a car parking build their enormous harm by all the power in a few moments later, and also Patrolled named Charles Conduct response to the call your work for him. This is just routine noise complained the canyon
yet on the midnight shift all the time. What he doesn't know is that the car with a loud music, belongs to a drug dealer. New Marco Perea, he's at the apartment, building to settle score and is not expecting a cop to show up when Marco sees officer. Conduct. He raises the stolen pistol from Jacksonville and pulls the trigger Where are you? Ok We already know about a shot fired off their fire. One would also conduct and kills him nor Marilla covered off the convicts death for the debate on Twenty fourteen and afterwards started looking into the large issue of stolen goods Florida. She picks up. The story from here
officer conduct left behind a wife, six kids and his father Charles conduct senior his home. His knee and tidy tucked in a gated neighbourhood, a flag with a picture of his son stands in his yard. Show much stuff is usual flowing inside, Charles has a shelf crammed with photos, candles and pamphlets from commemorations for his son model of ultimate shark. Before medal of Honor Combat Cross and the path from top and Springs Police department, purple heart as his badge numbers to it. Five, you can just hear the New York police officer and Charles S voice. He is a big guy tall and broad, with a tight hair cut and mustache here
tired from the unwise p d and nineteen ninety and was proud to see his son joined the force and follow in his footsteps. When Charles got the call that his son was shot, he couldn't drive to the hospital fast enough. He blew through traffic lights and ignored, speed limits, but by the time he got there it was too late. So I was my on the floor and have was my blood pressure on sky high, wanted to see him and see him in a while and when Aristotle you when when she was hoping you after you found she said, The sun would bring every a night, he works nice very sad, united, bring a coffee for me and him, and for five years we sit there and have coffee and talk and She was treaty may when she was telling me that night
wanted to go, see him, but I've been seeing the while and, as you know it You can't touch him. The medical examiner hasn't been there yet and when in a wheelchair, because I was just saw for copper, menacing. You stole my love, em an absurd. For things happen. I tried to talk to the owner of the gun, used an officer conduct staff, but he didn't return. My calls or reply to my letters that idea
spend an afternoon and Jacksonville where that gun and thousands of others like it have been stolen, robbery and environmental law. How you do you, love Duenna, twenty three years from the town for a firm of Abu Umbria Burden Zone commander for this area assistant chief per annum with the Jacksonville Sheriff's office, or a J Ai, so he's at the entrance of a local gated community chatting with residence as they come home from work. We're just gonna doing a walk and talk me, the neighbors, then the people oh, that if you don't wanna, get your card broken into our stolen, simply lock. That's the key It sounds so simple, but police records show that. Or in Dover, again people leave guns in their cars. And don't bother locking them right away, also give you want for your France, ok, ok,
In Jacksonville alone, I found that more than a thousand guns were taken from cars over the last two years, chief burdens campaign as an attempt to pre empt. These thefts swimming people when they purchase a gun. It only took on where the rules boss, Billy with a gun ownership, is that Detective Tom R n he and detective deal groves are withdrawn. So's Otto Burglary taskforce. Can you guys talk about the ammo? That's used here to break into cars and welcomes their stolen car? What drop off Carlo two kids in the back of the neighborhood, those kids a fan out that Poland or handles and now, whatever cargo and they go in and they see where they can get I just interviewed a kid yesterday morning he was under fourteen and he had a gun on it and when I asked him, he confessed
I interviewed in twelve days earlier thank it unrest in when I first started working on this story, Charles conduct Senior agreed to talk to me because he hoped it would prevent what happened to his son from happening to any one else. But it's a hard problem to fix. We calculated that in Florida at least eighty two thousand guns stolen in the last ten years, are still missing. What do you remember thinking when you found out the gun was taken out of an unlocked car when, when you found out that detail, I thought at the owner of the car and the gun should face, some kind of consequences should be arrested for I said stupidity. I notice no such law, but negligence.
He didn't have that gun if he locked the door. The answer my son might still be alive now, but not everyone thinks the burden of responsibility should be on gun owners. Certainly believe in Florida. Carry believes that, yes, if you have a gun, your car, you should lock your car. Absolutely. This is Eric Friday, General Council of the Gun rights group. Florida carry, but if you fail to do so, should there be criminal sanctions for failing to do so in my answer, that is no Eric says. The answer has two parts: first, crack down on the criminal: stealing the guns, sack aunt Lucy restrictions on where gun owners can bring their weapons? If we do He says, there'd be Ask me its historic guns and cars and fewer thefts. We don't hold people article for the theft of any other property, the stolen from them. So I'm not sure why we have,
So many pushes too Gun owners as anything other than victims, they are when their property is stolen. I disagree with his statement that gun owners, broad context, should be treated as such. Comes when they may have negligently or even intentionally failed to secure a deadly instrument That state Senator Darrow Rousillon, who sits on the criminal Justice Committee, he ended, lawmakers wanted a special session on guns last year, but they couldn't get enough votes to schedule. The meeting in a state like Florida, where the national Rifle Association has so much political clout. New gun regulations are almost guarantee to hit a brick wall. Some would want Florida to be the wild wild West, everyone double packing, but in a real sense, what are we protecting ourselves?
from Us Bruce on says he wants tougher security measures and not just for gun owners, but also for the other big source of stolen guns, gun dealers who, over the past few years, have been targeted by thieves, even see a truck ran through the frog of the store and several suspects job out a go inside. Just that this is tv footage from Channel ten w ts p of a burglary at the Tampa arms company from last November. That means dozens of guns ended up in the hands of thieves and there no telling where they ended up. So today, in Florence, more than four times as many firearms were stolen from gun dealers and twenty sixteen and twenty twelve that doesn't Prize Jason, Mueller, Co. Owner of will cash pawn in outermost springs Here, we have a red key sported backing up to our shop, putting their life
play right up to the window. Very nice, then Jason, I was a little bit of everything from watches to laptops. Guitars two guns: his shop was broken in two twice last year. He showing me surveillance footage of the first break in oh yeah breaks, though glass. They are running guy jumps over the counter and takes the two guns. You can hear my alarm just blame and they were in and out about twenty two seconds, and this is what suddenly going gray and losing my hair Jason is quick to make a joke and laughs off the first burglary. It was an amateur job. He says clearly work of some kids. They only made off with two anti guns that didn't even work, but he didn't laugh.
Three months later, when he was hit again this time by prose the burglars turned the security cameras off and pride, the steel get off the door they broke into. The back room were Jason. Restored, his guns, they didn't discriminate when they went and whose everything we had literally like anything, shot rifles. Handguns, revolvers, pistols, everything. It was one of them, largest gunshot burglaries in Florida last year. The thieves stole six He nine guns only about a dozen have been recovered afterwards, Jason invested in new security like saves, which he hopes will be enough There aren't any laws regulating security at these stores and some and dealers don't bother to lock up their weapons after closing time, making them prime targets for thieves, at three o clock almost every night to check the cameras once it. The Indian and I've, been woken up. Those phone calls- and you know we have a glass break sensor in inner
your story. Would you like us, citizen, no police? That has just stressed me out so much that I can't even help anymore you're, just naturally wake up at that time to make sure everything's. Ok, my wife is like one. How you doing awake right now. My ranch have the cameras, Jason gunshot break ins have gotten so bad. He wants to see lawmakers imposed security regulations, but politics, Tens are stuck in gridlock of argued it oh I'm blue in the face, and I've seen the bumper sticker is that they say He'll try my gun from my dead hands. You know which takes it to the extreme Senator Rousillon says the state legislature has taken things to the extreme back in eighteen. Eighty seven Florida passed a law that prevents local governments from controlling guns and their communities. The states essentially tied the hands of towns and kind,
We have to make their own done, rules office. Your car was shot three years ago on December twenty first, twenty fourteen Margo Korea, his killer, faces the death penalty since its capital case, there are lots of hearings and Charles conduct Senior goes to each one religiously, with his girlfriend Irene Marco's trial date has been pushed back a couple times Charles thinks it could be delayed again since Marco's defence has asked the judge for more time to prepare its beyond frustrating for a family who, at this point, is only looking for closure.
Stupid. I mean it. I guess you two states point they want to avoid any way of having them appeal. The verdict because the whole thing why surely, my son, so that we get there, he wants, but what is long, arrest, record everything we should all should have been done already, but we have no choice but to keep going and going and going until it's all over just in the last few weeks. This case seems closer to being over Mako premier pleading, guilty to first degree murder and is now a wing sensing. Our story was produced by an Hamilton.
Reported by Laura Morale of the Tampa Bay Times Laura. Is one of reveals investigated, fellows the fellowship supported by the W K, Kellogg Foundation and the democracy fund, provide support and training to journals of color to create investigative reporting projects in partnership with the news outlets Alot of police Department say the key to me Their city safer, is getting guns off the street. So why are some departments doing just the opposite? The answer when we come back this is reveal from the centre for investigative reporting in p r exe. From the centre for investigative reporting and p r eggs. This is reveal I'm Alison, just like the police in Florida departments. All across the country are trying to keep guns off the street.
Some are organizing gun by backs like this one that took place this summer on a hundred degrees Saturday afternoon in Fort Worth Texas, it's in a supermarket parking lot. Police have set up an hour v and traffic jams slow stream of cars pulls up with people wanting to get rid of their own guns, hunting rifles and rusty revolvers, police cuddle for shade under a couple trees, Lieutenant Gregg, weathers in charge. Yeah we actually have the cars pull in the officers will hand them a ticket. They will take the weapon, no make sure the weapon is secure and unload. It then they'll process it in then they will. Maybe if you did all give car once all the processing verification Linda for this man. The whole thing thinks about five minutes. Nothing to it. No questions asked nothing. Just come get begun and take your money go that this can be simpler. But as it turns out, what's going
before worth is not as simple as it seems for one thing: police have competition, just a few feet away these groups of guys holding sizes, say cash for guns and waving. His fools of money would have been very often forget what I hear a beating more, these guys say: they're gonna dealers, they turned out bid the police for the guns and its working reporter alarmed Stevens is also there. That day, he's been looking at police gun programmes and chats up some of these guys. So when you hear this, some of the rhetoric about getting guns off the street from no police chiefs and departments like were worth right here, Do you think that's admirable mission? Eating is wasted time. It's definitely possible board to be both a main and
practicality, whether or not this is useful to the public debatable. So what? If I told you dad when it comes to their duty weapons that forward police department actually cells. Those back to the public are putting guns on the street just like they're trying to take guns off the street here, so it doesn't make sense there. They're, doing something counter to what they're saying they want to do today: hypocrisy, yup, that's right! When it comes to their own guns, the ones carried by police officers, the department cells, those back to the public alone wondered if those gun sales under my police efforts to fight the crop, so he looked into how they work
four worth is not alone when it comes to selling its guns, as happens all over the country. Take, for instance, this add from a gun store in North Carolina body, been pleasant powers here, and we have really not least law enforcement traded hand going to show you today. The bags were we very smooth literally there also right now merry Christmas. Both we wanted to know with how many department sell their guns. In my home state of Texas, I requested records from the fifty largest lawn Orson agencies in the state and I found in the last decade, twenty one of them sold weapons, putting more than ten thousand guns back on the streets for worth alone. Sold more than a thousand. I wanted to find out why it took a lot of phone calls, but I reached sergeant mark and they are see Provera,
O d e r, o and public information observed for placed. I ask why his department cells its use weapons. He says they need a cash selling. Their old guns helps them pay for new and better ones order firearms reconfirmed. You know we always want to have the best firearms better, that operational and safe. Obviously, police officers have to have a reliable equipment so any time that equipment gets through an age world where we have agreed to have it so back to the distributor, then we're going to do that. The distributor is actually a gun store, which is an important distinction for Provera the way he sees it. Technically, they aren't selling guns back to the public. I can assure you nothing ever go straight from the police
department through a person pan, that's not how we operate, but that is how the distributors operate. These guns stores turn around and sell police guns to the public that it is come now But we're talking about ten thousand guns in Texas alone enough to arm and higher army division, making it pretty likely that a police gun could fall into the hands of a criminal right. Let me just say I'm being rotation with you or I could. I know where you're trying to go with it. I'm not I'm not gonna buy into. Let's get into a conversation. About morals and in an ethics in open. I'm a moral and ethical person in my mind, but less were stick with the facts and we are a contract with the distributor and we abided by burner I want you to showing their use guns raises ethical issues for other police departments. Here, she's Gregg, Stevens from the lobby police, the decisions I make her or data driven
major person, and I make very few emotional decisions. I fully recognise the fact that, absolutely one of our guns could fall into the hands of of of a criminal. Your vast that emotion, that chance is enough for me to change what is in essence a business decision, but hard data is And just like he Stevens I wanted to get real world information about whether old police guns are used in crimes, so go to the remote hills of West Virginia to find a guy named Scott Thomson. Yeah I'm here where I think I'm here now. I passed it. Ok for decades, Thomas and worked under cover as an agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, tobacco for arms and explosives, now he's retired to a more genteel life nestled in a modern homes.
On a large plot of land. When I finally find him, I'm greeted by two feisty dogs do and how do you do in these days? He looks like someone you'd be a high school football coach, big stocky with a mean mustache, but years ago he worked as it under cover arms trafficker. He remembers brokering a deal with a man named Chris, a NEO Nazi who robbed a cartel and was looking offload guns and drugs I wanted to buy a gun and I won t be any other cocaine. He could sell He said he didn't have any other croquet any anymore, but they they might have a gun I had a meeting him. He was much four hours later. Hotel parking lot and saw me Let them western revolver. They chrome
shiny handgun, revolver, have an old school firearm in, but I do noticed is a scenario shares portmanteau symbol on Scott closes the deal calls the San Diego shares Department and he dropped a bomb on them. He found one of their guns in the hand, of a drug dealer and long, silence and paws on the phone, and I said I'm calling to find out if it does stolen. If there's some crimes associated with it or the set of circumstances wide be in possession of this virus Santiago looks in killing. And discovers the weapon was one of many did the shares department had so they call back Thomas in a talent, their reversing their policy of selling guns. They were horrified that revolver What's once carried by police officer, could of injured and other law enforcement officers, or somebody else
because it was in the hands of criminals. Thomas is by no means anti guy. He owns I've teacher shooting courses, we even do some target practice on his property rights shows. A favorite gun used by police. So we ve got a clock. Twenty three to forty caliber, its, extremely reliable, strongly durable and in a stressful situation, it can operate, for road memory and through training. What he says is exactly why criminals like it too and police arduous selling handguns
where's. My reporting. I found that police departments all over the country so well everything, shot, guns and precision, sniper rifles, assault, weapons like the our fifteen and in P five one Texas shares department, would sell fully automatic uzis for just three hundred dollars: Saint Louis Soul, Tommy gets from the nineteen twenties. If you want it, they had it. Unlike the loving police chief, I wanted to see if I can find out how often these guns short and murders, robberies and assaults
If I told you, I was going to string that thread together to find out how many sold police guns ended up in crimes. What would you say to that endeavour? Good luck! Good luck! I decide to go to the source. I request. Information from eighty have headquarters what they call Trace data, and I wait for two months before they tell me. They ve lost my request six months later and still no data, but they do invite us to visit their national tracing Centre and West Virginia? Were hundreds of employees perform traces, tracking guns used in crimes back to where they came from? We sent a producer who joined a group of other journalists touring the facility. A big part of what we do here is kind of like, like shift work.
Treatment with the eighty f leads the tour. He shows the group a room that looks like a call center. I stand incline from eighty of national tracing centre. Arbitrary Syria I know I'm your pistol. There are also rooms, were agents scroll through microphones and sift through boxes upon boxes of paperwork. The building manager at one point in time, probably about ten years ago or so determined that capacity to be about ten thousand boxes We started having a safety issue where the floors were kind of buckling a little bit, so they started bringing in shipping containers like what you see on track, trailer trucks. What rashly I just double check, we're up to twenty eight. The shipping containers now each containing another five hundred, thousand boxes, someone that range back inside agent trauma and explains why the process is so archaic, essentially
what what were prohibited from doing is establishing any sort of a searchable or perceived a database of gun ownership and in working within me. Let me start that partner, Roma, South Africa. What we what we want? We tracked it's a question that pictures on the sensitive politics around gun control, the law the law restricts man haven't you want to say that way. The eighty f is prohibited from creating anything resembling a central database of gun buyers, its tied to this fear that such a database could be used to disarm Americans. So the atm is stuck in analogue time absolute, and when it comes to the data I'm looking for, which could show how many police weapons are picked up at crime scenes, even if they tried to figure that out, they couldn't tell me, but it wasn't always that way
you see back in the late nineteenth nineties. Tracing information was public. There a series of articles about police guns and crimes like the one with eighty f aging, Thomas in Michael cough guns were showing up everywhere, Martyrs in York, homicide in Saint Louis, a white supremacist used. One too I run a jewish community centre in ninety ninety eight, the Denver posts estimated that police guns were found in the hands of criminals. Three times a day. It is also start using this tracing information to file lawsuits against gun stores and gunmakers guns factors and lobbyists launch a counter strain They enlist Congress and pushed back with new rules on guns, gun sellers can no longer be taken to court. A ten year ban on assault weapons is lifting and, most importantly, they go after the very information itself through something called the Tiara Amendment tracing data.
Not be released to the public. To this day, the National Rifle Association contains the tracing data serves no useful purpose these days when it comes to use cop guns in crimes obviate, he can say is tat. They see them in traces, but the details, their top secret, and we asked Neil Trautmann. Even the police say, Lubbock could get data to figure out where their old cough guns were going actually wit with with the region. Missions as they are in the laws, as they are not sure that we could, but that might be something that would be discussed at a higher level because its among law enforcement and it's it's with our law enforcement partners for teeth. Like Gregg Stephen, that lack of information and puts them in a tough position. Do they sell guns to make ends meet possibly at the expense of public safety? A few days after fifty eight people were killed and music,
through a LAS Vegas. I asked Chief Stevens whether mass shootings like that one make him think twice about selling his use policeman It would certainly give give me a would give me pause. I can tell you that is this interview in the store that you're doing it on, I will reflect on it, and it will make me I consider that it certainly the possibility that they could be used in the future business, like the Vegas event tragically Vegas, certainly something to look alive, Stevens. As Rapporteur for the Texas Standard State, I'd new show on public radio he's also reveal investigative fellow we're still looking for answers on just how many police guns end up in crimes. After many months of back and forth phone calls and emails. The atm went silent on our request for data when
soon. The department of Justice for this information remember how the eighty have said they weren't allowed to collect and analyse gun data for a long time. The government? Didn't collect data when people died in car crash? how data changed in industry and save lives, that's next on reveal from before investigative reporting in p r exe. When the centre for investigative reporting in p r ex this is reveal a malleson in nineteen sixty Ex President Lyndon Baines Johnson stepped into the rose garden and said it was time to face a shocking
for years now we ve tolerated a raging epidemic, an epidemic that killed nearly three times as many people as all America's wars, and yet at a national level, was basically on studied and unregulated, We are going to cut down this senseless law civilized. He was talking not about guns, but about car crash. What he called highway disease we're going to find out more about. I waited and we're going to find out how to cure how aid regime Fifty years later, we may not have found the cure, but we made progress. The car crash death rate is down nearly eighty percent guns. On the other hand, have gone up of it, which is why, when you hear about gun control on Say CNN panel, Barbara Sandy Hook Virginia Attack Columbine unless grows. Somebody brings it up. It's an interesting
analogy in that actually quite telling, in this case legal expert, Michael World, you know we fact who could drive we lift the drinking aged twenty one, so people wouldn't dry recklessly. We put an air bags, we changed car design, in other words, we changed cars and made them so and the question is, as there are ways to do that. Also we ve gone. To answer that question. His reveals stand out. The time someone dies by gun or car, this group of people who rushed to the scene to figure out exactly how they died. Is there any accidents? Working right now, they're called police officers talk about reports and legally oh right out of something I rode along with New York, state trooper, Frank being dear. Oh, oh in
I also want to show you mostly to see the paperwork. Acts are reporters right here because one reason for the fall in car debts starts with feeling in the boxes on that form. These mysterious box, as you see the here, I mean nothing to you. They mean a lot to us. The boxes are where he breaks down the weather, where he draws a bird's eye. Cart of the wreck it where he identifies. Accidents, primary causes, as you ve like a whole list of possible They don't have you read those little things, but there's a million I mean to try. Consequently, the pc, their animal action, can exactly say. Dear cousin roadway, I tried to tell my wife. The safest thing to do is to slow down as much as you can without being unsafe and drive straight through the animal. Really yes, now everything cops do involves paperwork,
interviews, photographs reports, but one difference between guns in cars is for a gun. Homicide that paperwork pretty much stays at the police station so the finest kind of dangerous this one turned out to be offender, bender but if it were one of the more than thirty thousand fatal car accidents that happen each year, I'd stay in half an hour, then, formation gathered on the side of the road would go from the boxes on that form into a federal database. Fatality analysis reporting system which doesn't necessarily sound like it would save lives until you meet someone who uses it you met from below an engineer at the Insurance Institute for highway safety, or I Hs on his desk. He is both a car, headlight and a giant paper book of,
federal regulation leading zero registered smartphone. Ass time. A few years back, Matt was on his computer. Looking at that government database of fatal accidents, Poland, and he noticed something people dying in head on crashes in, cars that were rated safe in head on crash tests and a lot of these crashes had a distinctive look: the passenger side was ok, but the corner in front of the driver looked like a giant had smashed it with a hammer pushing the bumper back past the engine almost to the steering wheel. Did it Take some time to recognise, or was it like a media is fairly immediate. He immediately recognised that this was a kind of crash these otherwise safe cars, just weren't designed for which to mad was an opportunity. We can probably do something about it. We can design and test
it's called the small overlap crash test and I ve been doing it since twenty twelve. I watched the test of a Bmw, Suv called the Ex One, starting with a technician measuring the crash test. Dummies position have them down to the millimeter to six six while engineers. From Bmw. Looked on service. Make sure doing everything right now? The dream, always everything just what watching closely thou Bmw Cares, so much about this test after an earlier model got a lower rating. When the dummies foot got crushed, the car was redesigned, always to for the new requirements so for those in requirement from Digest. We have to redesign our CASA, we're gone right, let's walk out of here, and so when we walk into the echo we crash hall,
test itself, I feel like I'm, seeing how a car get safer in just nineteen seconds. You got all these cameras funded by the insurance companies. You gotta be m engineers nervously watching from a cat walk up. Above all, this money and expertise fixated on this black suv, its being dragged up to a speed of forty as per hour and then release into us. You'll barrier made specially for this task and it all started with Matt, rumble o the engineer going through that government crash data. How important are these federal databases of real world car crashes. There, really indispensable without real crash data, we had just been guessing
government crash data is the foundation not just a vehicle design, but of speed limits and drunk driving laws, and so for decades, public health experts. Professor Stephen tear it. I've been calling for an equivalent database, but for guns now even though the number of motor vehicle related deaths and gun debts in the United States are approximately the same every year, we have data for one. We don't have data for the other, Stephen, have used their government crash data to study, airbags and child restraint laws, but when he shifted has focused guns, the difference was stark instead of just now. Voting data? He had? They gather his own from coroners and police departments, so we don't have the benefit of analyses about gunned. As that we have had about cards. And, in my opinion, that's why, The reasons why we're not seeing there
production and gun des that we saw in car des over the last couple of decades. As an example, he brings up the cause of three out of every five gun deaths in the: U S, suicide. One thing public health researchers have been able to prove. Is it if you have access to a gun? You are more likely to kill yourself because it makes any attempt at suicide, more death when it comes to how suicidal people get those guns. Are they buying them? Are they borrowing them if they were smart guns that can only be used by owners. How many lives would that safe Stephen says we just don't have the data to give very good answers? There's been a culture that built up around guns of not collecting information, whereas the exact opposite has occurred with cars.
But this culture of data driven safety engineering- it did not always exist for cars and the way it came about, maybe the most surprising gun. Parallel of all, it starts in the early twentieth century when car safety, if it was discussed at all, was all about the driver unfortunate, There are drivers amongst us who are poor support. There are more than fifty thousand yearly debts, but there are blamed on the not behind the wheel. They are there. Who caused the accident that maim and kill. In other words, cars, don't kill people, people kill people
The whole notion that the machine could have some sort of impact on the likelihood of you surviving a car crash wasn't even on the radar during the first half of the twentieth century. This is Amy Gang off historian who traces the auto safety idea back to the research project of a self top scientist named Hued haven. You tell me Yes, are you don't know how? I feel that this is an old cassette tape. I tracked down a few being interviewed, really start. Nineteen seventeen. Eighty one I was by the canadian AIR Force in World WAR, when he was just like twenty four hours away from being commissioned. He had a horrific plain accident, my liver, gobble up
While he was in the hospital he had his kind of moment of his epiphany, but I did have these abdominal injuries. He concluded that there was a sharp on his safety belt that I'd probably to his injuries, and so he started thinking that perhaps we can package human beings better, not just in plans but in cars, to be started by crash testing. Objects dropping eggs onto foam and rubber mats from higher and higher heights. And he turned to human beings. Looking into a newspaper stories of people surviving miraculous, falls off cliffs and out of buildings and, finally, to see exact
how people were dying in car crashes. He started calling up hospitals and coroners and police officers, most of whom thought he was nuts was thought to be the great well people, nor even to this day, I feel that the action he would prove the cars themselves cost injuries because of how they were designed, for example, in nineteen fifty three. He partnered with the Indiana State Police and with their photos and reports, a story in any gang law says he was able to isolate which parts of the car were the most dangerous yeah he's diagnosing exactly what causing the injuries inside the car and then what define what exactly did he find is causing most of these injuries the steering com,
the steering column itself was not collapsible. So if you had a front ankle mission, the steering column would push up and might even push through somebody's chest was solution. Was a collapsible steering column, which Would go on to save seventy nine thousand nine hundred and eighty nine lives, as of twenty twelve, according to a government study more than any technology except the seatbelt, but they wouldn't become standard equipment until one thousand nine hundred and sixty seven more than a decade. After Hugh Dehaven Study, it took more than research. It took politics, you will have my name's, you remember. I am certain that you are here. This is John Clay, Brook Joe clay brook came to Washington DC in nineteen sixty five to work for an idealistic, freshmen congressmen from Georgia. He was concerned about the kids in his neighbor had been killed in car crashes, and he had read unsafe at any
aid unsafe at any speed was an unlikely best seller by car safety. Obsessed young lawyer named Ralph Nadir Nadir, built on huge havens, research and turned it into a scorching indictment of the auto industry. He showed that not only did Clark, When he's no about safety technology like the collapsible steering column, they have the patents. They just want using them, they're very few books that have such an instrumental, in fact, and that's why the auto industry Come shewed, trail NATO and get some turned on him in China. Tibet at him This general motors smear campaign backfired so badly that the company president had to apologise in front of the Senate. Instead of turning up dirt on nadir, it me gm look dirty and it aid natures congressional testimony on things like suspension systems in the front page news, car companies
energized a movement to regulate car companies and that movement succeeded distinguished her Members of Congress and administration in France. That speech I'll be J gave in nineteen. Sixty six was to announce the signing of two bills for traffic safety. I will ensure safer better. Protected cars. They created a new federal agency. What's now that national Highway Traffic Safety administration with the power to make car companies install seat belts and collapsible, steering columns, antics set up those national databases of crash data. Thank each of you very much They did it with nearly unanimous by partisan support, which may be the part of the auto safety story. That's hardest to imagine being repeated with guns. Today, here's Joan Playbook. I think that dumb
for Congress, got it active, endure anything on guns, the energy I got its claws out. They have played a strong role in defeating Canada's. And the other and she's never been that successful at it. Because to be annexed, Safety is against motherhood and apple pie. Greece has treated guns very differently than had treated cars, carving out exam from regulations, lawsuits and data collection, no understands that contrast better than Stephen Terence Guns, safety researcher, but of all the people. I talk to he was also the most hopeful which I found frankly kind of hard to understand well, let's you still be optimistic, all of those factors you're trying your best and you're doing.
Fairly good job making me sink into some swamp of despair, but I'm afraid you're not going to succeed. And I'm not going to do it, and the reasons that I am not going to do. It is because I understand something about how public health is made progress over the centuries. He points out. It took more than fifty years. Tat really reduce smoking in this country, and even the history of car safety that seem to move so fast in the sixties had decade's where there were nothing but Cutbacks progress in public health just takes a really long time, so we persevere in and we wait and we wait until the time is right, so that something becomes politically feasible, it may be for years earlier, was not politically feasible. So, yes, we will make guns safer consumer products and that in turn
reduce the incidence of gun deaths in the United States. It's a matter of waiting until the time is right. After we finish talking. I thank Stephen tear it for US time and he told me not to worry about taking up an hour he's been waiting for forty years. That story was reveals stand out That idea that it's a matter of waiting until the time is right is something a lot of people struggling after every man. Shooting the same thing happens. One side wants gun control. The other side's says it's too soon to talk about guns in the midst of a tragedy but, after the men shooting in LAS Vegas this year. Theirs to be a moment of bipartisan support
for more research or a new federal agency to regulate guns, not even close, but for ban on bumps tongues. That's the device that allow the sugar to fired nine round a second into the crowd below is hotel room, but two months later, efforts to pass the bomb stock bill have stalled in Congress. Well, they moved on today show was edited by talk. You tell it needed withheld from eighty Donoghue thanks to catch shipment, reporter Ryan, Banking, Jacksonville producer John O Leary in Washington DC and the matter percent of archives of New York Presbyterian, while Coronel my window in a wholesome is our production manager. Michael Corey our data editor It sound designer and engineers Jim Briggs. He had help this week from cathode Ray Ando and romping era, Blooey Amy Piles, our editor in chief, says in rivers, our executive editor and our executive producer is Kevin. Solving our theme, music is by Colorado, lightning
support for reveals provided by the Raven David Bogan Foundation for foundation. The John Dene carefully Macarthur Foundation the John S and James A night foundation. The hiding Simons Foundation and the ethics and excellence in journalism foundation reveal is a co production at the center for investigative reporting and p r ex I'm Alison and remember. There is always more to the story. These are last few shows of the year and let me tell you in twenty twenty we are bringing the fire launching some of our most ambitious projects we ve ever done. I can wait for you to hear them reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter and this kind of investigative journalism. Well, it takes time and it costs money. These are the final weeks
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-20.