Folks stand in a line outside of a store selling guns.

In this March 15, 2020, file photo, people wait in line to enter a gun store in Culver City, Calif. A record 23 million guns were purchased last year, according to trade groups.

Credit: AP Photo, Ringo H.W. Chiu

Thursday on Political Rewind: The coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines this past year. But the news this week returned to a different public health crisis: the massive toll of gun violence in the United States.

The killing of 18 people in Georgia and Colorado in the past week prompted renewed calls for change. In Congress, lawmakers are calling for stricter gun control measures, including increased background checks on potential purchasers. Meanwhile in Georgia's state Capitol, similar measures jockey for space with bills expanding the freedom of gun owners to open carry.

Gun sales saw a record-breaking year in 2020, with experts saying many of those purchases were by first-time gun owners.

On today's show, we spoke to Dr. Mark Rosenberg, a former CDC official and a longtime advocate of using scientific research to stem gun violence. Betty Dickey, the former chief justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and an ally in the push for more gun violence research, also joined the conversation.

Her husband, the late Jay Dickey, was a U.S. representative from Arkansas and proponent of gun rights. He was at first a fierce opponent of Rosenberg's work, before the two ultimately joined forces in the movement for better gun safety and control. 


Betty Dickey — Former Chief Justice, Arkansas Supreme Court

Kevin Riley — Editor, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Dr. Mark Rosenberg — Former President and CEO, Task Force for Global Health