Kill Zone USA – Investigations in a Gun-Crazy Country

NDR/ARTE, 2014, 85 min.

The massacre at an elementary school in Newtown came as a terrible shock. To the world, to America and most of all to the parents of the 20 first-grade pupils who lost their lives on 14 December 2012. Adam Lanza, the mentally unstable killer of the children, fired 154 rounds from the civilian version of a military assault rifle which is sold over the counter in the United States.

And the bloodshed continues: in the 66 school shootings that have taken place since Newtown, a further 45 people have been killed and 73 injured. Collateral damage in an undeclared civil war that is enveloping the US, with the support of the arms industry – including German and European players. A team headed by the screenwriter Helmar Büchel has followed the trail of the murder weapon: to its manufacturer; the owners of that company, an investment fund; and its lobbyists, foremost of which is the National Rifle Association (NRA). The ARTE team has succeeded in gaining access to the chilling live recordings of the police radio traffic and video footage taken on the day of the massacre, and has talked to the families of victims as well as to radical gun owners. Using a hidden camera, the team reveals how easy it is to purchase a semi-automatic assault rifle of the kind used in Newtown, even two years after the shooting – in a matter of minutes, without any background checks and completely anonymously.

How can this gun madness be stopped? What part do German manufacturers play in the story?

Director: Helmar Büchel
Camera: Jan Kerhart, Matthieu Mazza
Sound: Claas de Buhr, Tim Persinko
Editor: Ulrich Skalicky
Production managers: Sandra Šamec, Katharina Au
Line producer: Peter Effenberg
Producer: Nadja Frenz
Editorial: Kathrin Bronnert (NDR/arte)
Commissioning editor: Ulrike Dotzer (NDR/arte)
Executive producers: Sandra Maischberger, Matthias Martens