Editor’s Note: June is Gun Violence Awareness month, and Brave New Films has a recent documentary, Making A Killing: Guns Greed and the NRA, which outlines the money and greed driving the gun industry. Brave New Films is offering free screenings to faith groups across the country. We spoke with Robert Greenwald, Founder and President of Brave New Films, and Myke Couch, a pastor in Philadelphia who recently held a screening of Making A Killing.
Robert Greenwald – Founder and President of Brave New Films
Gun violence has been a major issue for years; what was the impetus in creating “Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA” at this time?
The killings or the awareness of the killings has gotten greater and greater. And no one had directly taken on the NRA. As I got into the research, I found out that the industry is driven by profit and greed. That seemed to be the important story to tell. The killings are horrible and destroy families and people, but I wanted to tell the story of the motivating greed and profit.
What are some of the common misconceptions Americans have about the gun industry, the NRA or the violence we see day in and day out?
Most people believe that the NRA is an organization about gun rights. It’s not – it’s the lobbying arm of the for-profit gun industry. They work for the gun industry to sell more and more guns. Thus, it is not their priority to support any rational restrictions to our legislators that would make society safer.
What do you hope people will feel or do as they walk away from watching this film?
My theory is that the mind will follow the heart. It’s an emotional film, but I hope those emotions are connected to the brain and to action. We want people to know that they are less safe, their family is less safe, and their church is less safe because of the gun industry and the NRA. But there are many things we can do: support a ballot issue, join an organization, support a candidate, etc. I hope it does not paralyze people. Battles are being won in states – not nationally yet – but statewide, and there is great progress to be made.
In what ways can the Faith Community partner with you in promoting this film and helping stop gun violence in our nation?
Almost anyone that was interviewed in the film who had suffered a horrific loss had used their faith to help them get through it, combined with therapy and activism. This seemed to be a 3-way path to healing. Faith provides a haven for those who have had horrible tragedy. It also provides an extraordinary organizing opportunity as people gather once a week. We hope that some communities will show the film, and this will lead to a great way to communities organizing and speaking out. Faith communities can say, “we are here to help provide public safety for everyone”.
Myke Couch – Pastor at New Beginnings Church of Philadelphia
How did you get connected with Brave New Films and why did you choose to show this film?
I received an email from Brave New Films and I thought this would be perfect for our community. I am involved in a lot of community issues, and we deal with so much gun violence in my community. After three shootings we decided to start a new little community group called Frankford Forward. Through this I run the grieving process for the families. We don’t often think about the fact that there are two people harmed in each shooting: One is dead or injured and the other is going away for life.
This film is a great tool for every faith leader to have. I grew up hunting, too, but when I hear about people being gunned down, I think that is an issue and raises concerns for me. This is about our community and keeping people safe.
What was your church’s reaction to the film?
We had a small group of 10 people at the screening, but they were engaged. We did a Q&A and allowed folks to share what was on their heart. People were shocked about the money and the salaries that those in the gun industry receive. And some of the legislation that was being passed was really enlightening.
People were very sad about the fact that this stuff goes down, and how much we don’t know. We didn’t know the way guns were sold, and how easy it was to get them. Then there are the types of guns people are buying! What could you want to shoot with that? These big guns are just not necessary. Hearing the stories from the victims really helped make me aware of the way people are affected. I didn’t know how big the politics played a part of the industry.
Are you all taking any collective action since having seen the film?
The day after the screening, we reached out to our state Senators and state Representatives and shared our hearts on this issue. We will go visit them as a group and press them about these issues.
As a person of faith, what scriptures compel you to take action on gun violence?
Matthew 26:52-54 “Put your sword back in its place, ” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”
If you’re going to use a weapon, be careful that you might die by that same weapon. We shouldn’t use any weapons at all. Allow the Lord to fight your battles for you.
Watch the trailer for Making a Killing here.