GUN CONTROL

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The 1960s were a decade scarred by notable gun deaths. Years before the shocking assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the nation suffered two other Texas-set tragedies: the 1963 slaying of President John F. Kennedy and the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin. These shocking events prompted two conflicting public reactionsa distinct rise in gun sales and widening support for federal gun control legislation. President Johnson moved on the latter, leveraging the deaths of King and Kennedy into action from Congress. A political process he hoped to complete in days instead took months, slowed by opposition from Southern Democrats and pressure from the National Rifle Association. The resulting Gun Control Act of 1968 eliminated Johnson’s suggested provisions of gun registration and owner licensing, but introduced regulation prohibiting certain interstate firearms transfers.

The following video collection demonstrates how Houston television news tackled the polarizing topic of gun control. In an arguable attempt to avoid picking sides, relevant coverage primarily involves prominent individuals arguing for or against regulation. KPRC-TV takes a more direct approach. The 1966 television news documentary, Guns Are for Killing, investigates the tragic consequences of easy access to firearms. According to KPRC’s Frank Dobbs, the production invited both national acclaim and anonymous attacks.  

The 1960s were a decade scarred by notable gun deaths. Years before the shocking assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the nation suffered two other Texas-set tragedies: the 1963 slaying of President John F. Kennedy and the 1966 mass shooting at the University of Texas at Austin. These shocking events prompted two conflicting public reactions: a distinct rise in gun sales and widening support for federal gun control legislation. President Lyndon B. Johnson moved on the latter, leveraging the deaths of King and Kennedy into action from Congress. A political process he hoped to complete in days instead took months, slowed by opposition from Southern Democrats and pressure from the National Rifle Association. The resulting Gun Control Act of 1968 eliminated Johnson’s suggested provisions of gun registration and owner licensing, but introduced regulation prohibiting certain interstate firearms transfers.

The following video collection demonstrates how Houston television news tackled the polarizing topic of gun control. In an arguable attempt to avoid picking sides, relevant coverage primarily involves prominent individuals arguing for or against regulation. KPRC-TV takes a more direct approach. The 1966 television news documentary “Guns Are for Killing” investigates the tragic consequences of easy access to firearms. According to KPRC’s Frank Q. Dobbs, the production invited both national acclaim and anonymous attacks.