Two advocacy groups, The Million Moms and the Second Amendment Sisters, are diametrically opposed on gun control, but they agree on one point: mothers will and should have a voice in determining gun control policy in America. GUNS & MOTHERS explores the grassroots beliefs of both movements by focusing on two different women, living in two different Americas.
Frances Davis lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Having lost all three of her sons to gun violence, she advocates for stronger gun control and supports the Million Moms. She and the Million Moms see stronger gun control laws as a way to prevent the alarmingly high number of deaths of young people from gun violence in America, an estimated 10 deaths per day.
Maria Heil has four children and lives in rural Pennsylvania. Convinced that a gun is a woman's best tool for self-defense, she's become active with the Second Amendment Sisters. These women believe guns are the most effective way a woman can protect herself and her family. They quote statistics about lives saved by the use of guns to support their views.
The film follows their parallel crusades over the course of a year, starting on Mother's Day 2000 when the two movements were born with the Million Mom March on Washington and the Second Amendment Sisters' smaller counter-rally that same day. Fueled by the national shock and outrage over the shootings at Columbine High School, the Million Moms were committed to using the wholesome image of mom and apple pie to get Congress to hear their concerns. With inside access to both sides, filmmaker Thom Powers shows how both the Million Moms and the NRA recruited women; how tempers flared around the gun issue; how presidential candidates handled the debate; and how the movements looked a year later.
Throughout the narrative, two keen observers of gun politics, author Robert Spitzer and New York Times journalist Fox Butterfield, shed light on the dialogue. As Butterfield says, "People in America have two entirely different experiences with guns. As long as there's such a huge chasm between the two sides, it's very hard to get them agree on any new proposals. There appears to be no middle ground."
" * * * ½ [3½ Stars!] Sobering and gripping, this important film concludes with strong if depressing evidence that pro-gun lobbyists are much more effectively organized than those who oppose them. Highly Recommended!"—Video Librarian
2005 National Women's Studies Association Film Festival
Pick of the Week! - New York Times, Time Out, and Entertainment Weekly
Opening Night, 2003 Museum of Television & Radio Documentary Festival
"Recommended! An excellent job in proposing both sides of the gun control issue from two very diverse and diametrically opposed advocacy groups."—Educational Media Reviews Online
"Heart-wrenching... An admirably respectful analysis of both sides of a divisive issue."—Time Out
"Heartbreaking...A fair-minded treatment."—The Kansas City Star
"An incisive exploration."—Southwest Globe Times