divided we stand. 26 lives lost in a connecticut elementary school, and a nation at a cross roads, from the passion to the anger to the obsession. what comes next for america and its weapons? from the global resources of abc news, with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden, and bill weir in new york city, this is a special edition of "nightline" -- a day in the life of the american gun. good evening. i'm bill weir. so how does it feel to live in the most heavily armed society in human history? do you take fear or comfort from the fact that this country holds three times more gun stores than mcdonald's restaurants? for many, it took a slaughter of 26 women and children to start talking about the 34 americans shot to death every day, and that talk has many others lining up to buy their first gun.
so at this moment of national conversation in a search to understand the complexities driving both sides, "nightline" teams fanned out across one nation under the gun and deeply divided. philadelphia, 7:30 p.m. sergeant john hoyt works overnight. a shift that makes a reasonable man question how anyone could call this the city of brotherly love. and just moments into his night, it begins. >> right now, a man was just shot in the face. >> actually, it's just a boy. 17-year-old. shot during a robbery. riding along and bearing witness to this all too common ritual is our pierre thomas. >> reporter: this is a city that has 3,000 shootings per year. >> and more than 300 homicides so far in 2012. 85% involving guns. this is the story playing out in
big cities across the nation. night after night. >> shot twice in the face, once in the back. they can't give us a definite. it's very serious. he's extremely critical and he's in the trauma bay and they're doing everything they can for him. >> sergeant hoyt knows his night is just beginning, and it would be the night of the sound of gunfire popping over and over and over again. meanwhile, in chicago, pete begins his overnight shift in the newsroom, waiting for police scans to begin their predictable cry. >> reporter: there's more than 2,400 shootings so far this year and there's still two weeks left. >> covering this beat means you will see more killed in cook county than the battlefield of afghanistan. >> reporter: shot in the back and the arm a couple times. >> the location is ominous. >> reporter: i don't know if kids are on christmas break or
whatever, but they're going to find out somebody got shot next to their elementary school. >> he finds evidence markers. the victim scooped into a car and driven off. >> reporter: they're going to transfer him to a trauma center. >> waiting there are teams of battle weary doctors and nurses and our david wright. >> reporter: 11:35 p.m., rush hour at cook county trauma center. >> we're going to move you over to this bed, okay? so what happened, man? >> [ bleep ], man. >> yeah, but how many shots? >> first task for the doctors, counting the bullet holes. >> one, two -- >> there's one here. >> four. >> reporter: he's the victim from the crime scene near the elementary school. and he's clearly in pain. the x-rays show he has more bullets inside him. >> this guy came in with -- i think we counted a total of 10
or 12 bullet holes. >> reporter: ten? that's a bullet? >> that's a piece of a bullet, yeah. >> reporter: one of them still lodged in his gut, another passed less than an inch from his heart. >> the question is are we opening his chest or are we opening his belly? you open the wrong cavity and he starts bleeding, you could lose him on the table if you made the wrong choice. >> reporter: 12:13. less than an hour after he came into the trauma center, he's in surgery. major surgery. >> whatever went in has to come out. so we have to find the hole on the back side. >> reporter: past 3:00 a.m. by the time they're sewing him up, alive, but not out of the woods yet. midnight, virginia beach, virginia. this is one of the seven states that allow guns in bars, so when jessica abbott stops by knuckleheads, she keeps her nine millimeter baretta on her hip. >> i wanted an extra way to defend myself.
chances are nobody's going to mess with me when i'm open carrying. >> for some, second amendment rights are grounded in the suspicion of the government. for others, the self-defense urge comes from fear, and these days, it seems there are more sources of fear than ever. >> if you think that somebody is about to go down, or something is going down, that you can rectify, then you should be able to do it. >> i carry a few different weapons. i just do it to protect myself. >> i'm not going to have a hassle with a man or get into a fight with an altercation where my children can be in jeopardy if i go down. >> in houston on that night, that source is facebook. after a mom discovers posts on her son's account discussing a possible shootout at his high school. responding is lieutenant robert henry. >> okay, i'll see you there. >> he specialized in cases potentially involving the mentally ill. >> you never know on calls like this if they're serious or not. so we take these situations very
seriously. >> what do you have, sir? >> police questioned 13 kids over what is probably a hoax, but these days, who knows? uncertainty brings fear. and back in philly, the parents of that 17-year-old are wrestling with the worst kinds of both. >> i can't make any promises, okay? what i can tell you is the best hospital in the world for this, okay? they're doing everything they can. there's 15 people work on him right now. >> while their son was slipping into critical condition, police in this town had taken a gun from a drug dealer. >> the saying goes, where there's drugs, there's guns. >> responded to a woman shot in the back while walking near upscale south street. >> she's comfort to be in stable condition after being struck in her abdomen. it went in and out of her body. >> and just before 1:00 a.m., comes word that two 24-year-olds are hit. >> one of the males is shot in the chest. extremely critical. they're transporting him to temple hospital now. which one's chest, this one? >> it may be hard to fathom in
places like these, but when we come back, we'll visit those parts of america where happiness is a warm gun. where families bond at the range and display their passion even in the picture with santa. 6 and cut! very good. people are always asking me how we make these geico adverts. so we're taking you behind the scenes. this coffee cup, for example, is computer animated. it's not real. geico's customer satisfaction is quite real though. this computer-animated coffee tastes dreadful. geico. 15 minutes could save you 15 % or more on car insurance. someone get me a latte will ya, please?
this special edition of "nightline" -- a day in the life of the american gun -- continues. morning in chicago. in a year that has seen over 400 gunshot deaths here, pete wraps up another busy night by visiting a few of those statistics at the morgue. >> we have to, for the sake of having a record, know when people are getting killed. like that matters. the names matter. the stories matter.
>> a gunshot wound. >> while at cook county hospital, another day begins with another bullet wound roll call. >> a 17-year-old with multiple gunshot wounds. >> ems did say they removed one bullet. >> critical care nurse gloria hall has seen enough. >> a nine millimeter. you have your tech nines. you have your assault rifles. people are coming in with holes so big, it's unbelievable. >> but for every place conditioned to equate bullets with pain, there is another corner of america where guns bring pure joy. like utah, where the butler family is down at the quartry. they invited juju chang to squeeze off a few rounds. >> you have to look through this eye, right? >> reporter: 4-year-old gauge butler needs a little help from dad to aim his ..22 caliber
rifle. >> now what can you do? put your finger on the trigger. squeeze one off when you're ready. okay, let's grab your gun then. >> reporter: gauge's older sister brayley told me she got her rifle as a 4th birthday present. >> oh, my head! >> did you get too close? you know what that's called? getting scoped. >> reporter: their dad casey is passing down a revered family tradition. his rugged outdoor escapades on youtube include ice fishing in idaho, bear hunting with a bow and arrow. but mostly, hunting game with high caliber rifles. >> boom! good shot, bud. you see you nailed it? >> yeah. >> give me five. >> reporter: a lot of people don't think children should be shooting guns. >> i agree to some extent. some children shouldn't be shooting guns. some adults shouldn't be shooting guns. with my kids, i always teach them responsibility. >> reporter: how many guns does your house have?
>> like 13 or so. >> reporter: what are they for? >> for protecting us and for hunting. >> i like to go hunting with my dad because i like shooting my gun and i like memories. >> reporter: their mom caylee thinks gun owners are often misunderstood. >> we want people to know that we're just regular people. we're not like shooting everything and pulling our guns out and playing with guns all the time. we are very responsible and respectful of guns. >> it's locked. you can't get into it. i guess if you're really wanting to get in, you could break the glass. but there's just guns in here. you can break the glass, take the gun out, it's just a gun. all my bullets and ammunition is in this one, which you obviously can't get into. i'm not worried about my kids getting into guns because they know you're not supposed to get around a gun unless what? >> parent supervision. >> reporter: so you don't feel nervous with guns in the house? >> not at all. i grew up with my parents having guns and my grandparents having guns and my friends' parents having guns.
>> reporter: so you're well versed in gun safety. >> right. we learned it at a young age. >> reporter: guns put food on the table. >> let's eat. >> reporter: tonight it's venison steaks, courtesy of a recent hunt. >> toñi me, it's important becae it's my livelihood. it supplies food and my kids like to g out and do it. >> as the sunsets in utah, the action is just heating up at the eagle gun range in dallas. a place that offers pictures with santa and his ar-15 bushmaster. >> ho-ho-ho, merry christmas. >> anything to get the kids in and have something fun to do. >> david prince runs the range. they do birthday parties, bachelor parties. and yes, even ladies night, where the range is filled with pink guns, pink targets, and a little friendly sass.
>> not going to break a nail. >> it's a different kind of girls night out. >> the women really have taken on to the sport. they quadruple the number in the last five years. >> it's just nice to see women coming together and shooting guns. usually people are like oh, guns, it's scary. but now i love shooting my gun. >> okay, you're a badass. >> back in chicago, dr. andrew dennis is among those who enjoy a trip to the shooting range, but he knows that much like his scalpel, guns are tools that can help or harm. he's among the countless people wondering where we can find a common sense fix. can america live by the gun without dying by the gun? the search for solutions when we return. a great life. but she has some dental issues she's not happy about. so jill's dentist introduced her to crest pro-health for life. selected for people over 50. pro-health for life is a toothpaste that defends against
we return to chicago now, where a trauma surgeon at cook county hospital is preparing to move yet another slug from yet another gunshot victim. as david wright tells us, this doctor is also a cop serving on his county's swat team. >> reporter: dr. andrew dennis is a gun owner himself, but he also sees the toll guns take, every day here in the o.r. >> the lowest moment of my career was when i had to open
the chest of a 3-year-old in this room on this bed and he died in front of us. >> reporter: dr. dennis keeps a collection of bullets, a teaching tool for the residents about what they're likely to encounter at the cook county trauma center. >> i get it. being a police officer, i understand where these kids come from. i understand these neighborhoods to a degree. >> reporter: it's a dangerous place. they feel like they need guns to protect themselves. >> a lot of people, they feel like their lives are at risk from the time they leave their house to the bus stop. >> reporter: when they end up here, they're not so tough anymore. quite the contrary. they're as vulnerable as they'll ever be. human beings in pain. >> when i first came in, i thought i was going to die. >> reporter: remember that guy who had surgery for multiple gunshot wounds last night? his name is antwan morton, he's 26 years old, he has a 4-month-old son. >> all i could think about is as
soon as i have my first baby, i can't wait for christmas. >> reporter: plenty of his patients are innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire. darrell was walking his little brother home from a basketball game when he got shot. >> i just wish people would make better choices. >> reporter: how do you mean? >> by not shooting people. because there's no sense of it. >> reporter: darrell spent thanksgiving here at the cook county icu. he'll spend christmas and new year's here, too. lucky to be alive. >> but that young man on the stretcher in philadelphia, not so lucky. >> the young man we just pulled out of the wagon was pronounced dead at temple university hospital at 1:09 a.m. >> another statistic. according to the cdc, he is one of the nearly 12,000 people killed in america each year by gun violence. as the bodies pile up, so do the
weapons. the boss stands in an arsenal full of confiscated guns. 3,500 of them recovered here this year alone. >> this kind of carnage should not be happening on the streets of our city. we're not in beirut. we're not in afghanistan. we're in philadelphia. at some point in time, you've got to say that's enough. >> kids are shooting each other every day in the streets and innocent people are dying every day. >> what happened this week is a tragedy and there's no way around it. if you can guarantee me that nothing like that will ever happen again, that i will never be faced with the fact that i will have to protect my family from a bad person or from anybody using a gun, no innocent child will ever be shot, no innocent person will ever be shot again, i will hand you my guns right now. >> and one gun store that we visited, they sold as many guns in the day four days after the newtown shooting as they normally sell in a month. that's a trend we've been seeing nationwide. so those who think more guns are
the answer, are certainly getting their way in the near term. our thanks to çójuju and david d pierre for their reporting. tomorrow, the final night of our special coverage. we'll hear from the nra as well as new york mayor michael bloomberg. thank you for watching, everybody. see you tomorrow. >> dicky: up next on "jimmy kimmel live" -- >> jimmy: justin bieber and selena gomez have broken up. she was cheating on him with general petraeus. >> dicky: jessica lange. >> jimmy: was king kong nice? he seemed like he was really nice. >> congratulations, everybody, i'm now on a downward spiral. >> baby, baby, baby and call me in the morning.