Director Kris Koenig got an accidental crash course in the Second Amendment while riding with a California sheriff for a regionally-based documentary.
The law officer asked if Koenig had a concealed carry permit, a simple question which led to Koenig researching the often arbitrary rules surrounding gun rights.
“I was in a rural county, but if I was in L.A. county or San Diego it’s nearly impossible to get your carry permit,” Koenig tells Big Hollywood.
Those findings helped inspire Assaulted: Civil Rights Under Fire, a new documentary playing in select theaters later this month narrated by hip-hop star Ice-T. The movie looks at how gun rights were often employed to oppress certain minority groups in the past. It also details how horrific gun violence like the Newtown school shooting makes many forget why the Second Amendment exist in the first place.
“We’re gonna draft more laws to deny the rights of law-abiding citizens of a civil liberty,” he says. “That right was put in by the Founding Fathers for a reason … when you start looking at it as a civil right it becomes more clear.”
Assaulted isn’t a one-sided documentary popped out of the Michael Moore mold. The film talks to a variety of sources, from fervent gun rights activist Ted Nugent to Dan Gross, the President of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
“If you’re gonna be an objective filmmaker, true to the genre of documentaries, we should be objective,” the Emmy winner says. “There are valid points on both sides of the argument. The two extremes of the argument are much closer than they realize. Both want gun violence to be stopped.”
The current debate on stopping that violence through new legislation often leaves out inconvenient truths.
“The reality is that [gun violence] is a much broader issue. There are gangs and drug wars that go on in our cities every night,” he says, adding that mental health concerns and negligent parenting deserve to be examined in the gun control debate.
A filmmaker who creates a documentary sympathetic to gun rights could face brushback in an industry where gun control passions burn hot. Koenig thinks if critics truly watch the film they won’t feel hostile to his cause–or career.
“Before they put me out into the cold wilderness and deny my ability to do my craft I hope they’ll sit and watch the film … especially those filmmakers who went through the L.A. riots,” he says. “When the government is not there to protect you … you’ll want your right to bear arms.”