Can a Victim of Gun Violence and Gun Advocate Find Common Ground?

A Mother's Promise Part II

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) Ten years ago, Salt Lake City watched in horror as a mass shooting unfolded at Trolley Square. A lone gunman walked into the mall and began firing. 
 
When it was over, five were dead, four others wounded. One of those who survived, Carolyn Tuft has become a voice in the anti-gun movement. 
 
Tuft lost her daughter 15-year-old Kirsten Hinckley that night. Mother and daughter were together shopping for Valentine's Day cards. 
 
Later Tuft would take part in a very unusual project. 
 
It was a joint project taken on by New York Magazine and a non-profit group Narrative 4. It's mission was finding empathy between two groups at the forefront of gun rights: those who believe in the Second Amendment and those seeking ways to strengthen our gun laws. 
 
It's Carolyn Tuft on the front cover of a prestigious magazine in New York City. Next to her, Todd Underwood, a seller of firearms over the internet. 
 
"He said do you know who I am? I said no. Sorry," said Tuft. 
 
They met in an experiment by New York Magazine and the non-profit group Narrative 4. The plan was to take two polar opposites in the gun debate and have them change roles. 
 
It was an experiment in empathy to see if people could understand each other. 
 
Ten years ago, Tuft was wounded in a mass shooting at Trolley Square. A lone gunman killed five people and wounded four others. Her daughter Kirsten Hinckley, 15, was one of those killed. 
 
In December Tuft and 16 others were invited to New York City to share their stories. She was paired with Todd Underwood. 
 
"He said I'm Todd Underwood. Still I had no idea and he said I'm the founder of United Gun Group. And I still had no idea and he said I'm the one who bought and sold George Zimmerman's gun, the one who shot and killed Trayvon Martin."
 
In 2012, George Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. 
 
"And my mind went blank. I couldn't. I said to him how could you sell a weapon that destroyed another life? I just felt that was so ethically wrong and hurtful. 
 
Good4Utah Skyped with Underwood in his Kansas City home. He says he didn't make a dime selling Zimmerman's gun and defended his website. 
 
"Basically if it's legal activity that surrounds the Second Amendment we decided to allow it and allow our members in what kind of activity they wanted to engage in," said Underwood. 
 
Underwood was unaware of the Trolley Square shooting until that weekend.
 
"It was one of the hardest things I've done in all my life, tell her story... it was definitely a difficult experience," said Underwood. 
 
The story exchange: each person tells his or he partner's story. 
 
"I suffer from MS and if anybody wanted to take me down, I would be an easy target. So I carry a gun because it keeps me safe. I feel safe with a gun. It levels the playing field. I just want to keep my family safe," said Tuft. 
 
"He shot me in my arm. On the ground shot me again in the back and then I watched him put a shotgun on daughters head and and ended her life," said Underwood. 
 
At the end as they discuss solutions, there's bickering. Some walk out including Underwood. 
 
 "I didn't want to leave on that note. I got up and left. Not because I was mad or anything. But I didn't want to take away from my personal experience. I wanted to see everyone as my dear friend," said Underwood. 
 
"After learning his story, I understood how he felt.  So I really couldn't judge him for how he felt... I didn't agree with him but I couldn't judge him," said Tuft. 
 
"If we understand each other and how it feels to walk in each other's shoes then maybe we'll be kinder, maybe we can pass some legislation that we all can agree on because we can understand," said Tuft. 
 
Underwood say the anti-gun and pro-gun community want the same thing to keep families safe. Because of this encounter, Underwood began demanding full disclosure from anyone buying a firearm on his website. 
 
To listen to the entire documentary by New York Magazine click here

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