'Nothing Says Peace on Earth Like a Handgun for a Christmas Ornament'

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Meet the folks at GunsSaveLife.com, an Illinois nonprofit

John Boch, the president of GunsSaveLife.com, isn't joking about his Christmas tree decorations. He and the members of the organization firmly believe more firearms in the hands of trained citizens are the route to a safer society. Based in Illinois, the nonprofit is dedicated to protecting the rights of gun owners and promoting education around gun safety. On the GunsSaveLife.com blog, Boch concurred with recent remarks from the National Rifle Association's Wayne LaPierre, focusing on gun-free zones as the problem, not the solution to school shootings. 

Charles "Stretch" Ledford, a filmmaker and assistant professor of multimedia journalism at the University of Illinois, tackles this highly polarizing issue in a short documentary, below, called Handguns and Humor in the Heartland: A Gun Rights Group's Unlikely Activism. Ledford spent this past summer and fall meeting members of G.S.L. and documenting their slogan-powered publicity effort, which dots the sides of highways with signs like the classic Burma Shave signs. In the documentary, members speak candidly about their values, providing a more nuanced look at the pro-gun side of the national debate raging in the wake of the Newtown tragedy.

In moving contrast, Mary Kay Mace describes losing her daughter to a mass shooting at Northern Illinois University in 2008. "I don't have a sense of humor about deadly force," she says. "I just don't."

For more work by Charles "Stretch" Ledford, visit http://vimeo.com/channels/stretchphoto.

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Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg is the executive producer for video at The AtlanticMore

Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg's work in media spans documentary television, advertising, and print. As a producer in the Viewer Created Content division of Al Gore's Current TV, she acquired and produced short documentaries by independent filmmakers around the world. Post-Current, she worked as a producer and strategist at Urgent Content, developing consumer-created and branded nonfiction campaigns for clients including Cisco, Ford, and GOOD Magazine. She studied filmmaking and digital media at Harvard University, where she was co-creator and editor in chief of H BOMB Magazine.

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