Gun violence is an issue that has plagued the United States for years. ABC News hopes its efforts to track the problem across a recent week will shed new light on it.
The Disney-backed news outlet is on Sunday launching “One Nation Under Fire,” a new project in conjunction with news staffers at ABC’s local TV stations that hopes to explore the root causes of gun violence by tracking a week of shootings across the U.S. from July 17 to July 24. The project will get a spotlight during Sunday’s broadcast of ABC News’ “This Week” and also be featured during “Good Morning America” and “GMA3” across next week. News departments at various ABC-owned stations may also contribute their own reports based on findings in their area of coverage.
“The idea is to take a mirror and let the country look at it, says Pierre Thomas, ABC News’ chief justice correspondent, who is leading the report. “We have a tendency to think about gun violence on a national scale, when we have a Walmart mass shooting or what happened in a supermarket in Colorado earlier this year. It turns out there’s an incredibly among of gun violence that is happening all the time.”
ABC News staffers on the project turned to the Gun Violence Archive, an independent research group that tracks incidents from more than 7,500 law enforcement, media, government and commercial sources daily, for help in finding activity across the week. According to the database, 262 deaths caused by gun violence took place over four days ABC News has examined, which equates to two lives lost per hour. Some ABC stations are providing footage, if it exists, of incidents in their vicinities.
From there, says Thomas, ABC News journalists are working to build a narrative of how gun violence flares across the country in a given week. The intention is to track victims and circumstances, and help viewers understand the demographics of people affected by and involved in incidents, as well as uncover solutions that might help reduce gun violence.
The key, says Thomas, is giving viewers a narrative they can follow. The issue of gun violence is so big that some people may have trouble getting a handle on it. Using incidents that have taken place in specific towns and cities will give the news unit a chance to break the larger themes down with anecdotes and examples that should get viewers to pay attention.
“We hope this is going to give us a better sense of the who, what, where and why and that people will walk away from this with a much better sense of what’s happening,” Thomas says.