What Are We Doing About Gun Violence?

Part one of a five-part series of interviews with and commentary by leaders working to reduce gun violence in the United States.

Recently, there was the Los Angeles International Airport shooting -- before that, it was the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard, the Sandy Hook Elementary School, the Aurora movie theater, Gabby Giffords in Tucson. Before that, it was Columbine High School, and so on. With every horrific story of gun violence, we vow to amend gun laws so that they require universal background checks and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. We talk about increasing spending on mental health programs. Then, as the news coverage fades, so does our attention.

Meanwhile, gun violence continues to happen outside of the spotlight every single day. Using data from a dedicated Twitter feed that tracks "gun deaths in the [United States] regardless of cause and without comment" and figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Slate magazine estimates that "roughly 29,776 people have died from guns [in the United States] since the Newtown shootings"-- that's an average of more than 90 deaths per day between December 14, 2012, and November 8, 2013.

Bills drafted to address this problem -- such as Senators Joe Manchin and Pat Toomey's bipartisan proposal to expand background checks on gun purchases last April -- have failed, making it clear that there is powerful resistance to enacting measures that would help curb gun violence. Gun lobbyists, for example, believe restrictive legislation infringes on their constitutional rights, and the firearms industry wants to continue to enjoy legal protections, such as consumer product liability lawsuit immunity under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, that other industries do not.

Despite these and many other challenges, some innovators are finding ways to intervene and disrupt the violence. To amplify the conversation as we mark the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, this series will share interviews with leaders who are spearheading initiatives aimed at reducing gun violence and preventing mass tragedies. These influencers come from diverse backgrounds -- including media, politics and entertainment -- and are shaping how we think and talk about safety in our country; they are working across sectors to improve the state of our nation. Here's a preview: