VICE (2013) s05e15 Episode Script

Future of Firearms & Russia Wins Climate Change

1 Shane Smith: This week on Vice: the post-Obama gun industry in America.
Man: Shooter ready! Dan Roberts: I believe that the movement of gun control is almost on life support.
(clacks) (whirs) Suroosh Alvi: What's your favorite part of your job? The fact that I make guns.
- Yeah.
- I love guns.
- You do? - Yeah.
Smith: And then, industries in Russia that plan to thrive from climate change.
It's hard to deny that climate change will be financially beneficial for Russia.
(speaks Russian) Oleg Anisimov: Advances of the agricultural lands, savings on the heating energy.
Russia is lucky.
(theme music playing) Yeung: Go! Go! Go! Refugee: We are not animals! During the Obama administration, firearms enthusiasts, fearing harsh new gun control laws, began snapping up inventory, sparking the most profitable period in the history of the American gun industry.
Now, a much more gun-friendly president is in the Oval Office.
I will never infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.
Never, ever.
(cheering) And that has manufacturers exploring new markets and ready to cash in once again.
Alvi: During the eight years of the Obama presidency, more guns were sold in this country than ever before.
Today, we've come here to the largest independently-owned gun store in America to learn about the future of the gun industry.
(people chattering) Alvi: All right, if you can just tell me a little bit about the shop.
Sure.
My father started back in the mid '50s as a coin shop, bought a coin collection that had some guns with it, and that got him started in the gun business.
Alvi: Was the gun industry strong in North Carolina back then? Nothing like today.
Most gun companies went bankrupt between wars.
The history of the gun business has been a lot of boom and bust.
So, looking around, if feels like we're in-- in a boom right now.
Probably one of the biggest booms ever.
Alvi: Now, how many different gun models do you guys have here? Hyatt: Thousands.
Alvi: Thousands.
Hyatt: Competition, hunting, collecting, doomsday.
- Alvi: Doomsday? - Yes, the preppers, people that think that we could have a nuclear attack or some type of pandemic.
Alvi: Yeah.
- They're getting ready.
- Yes.
Alvi: What are the most popular guns that you sell? The most popular gun is the AR-15 type, the military-looking gun.
Bring it inside your shoulder just a little bit.
Alvi: Why do you own guns? It's just like going to the golf course.
Some people go for beers.
Some people shoot AR-15s.
(both laugh) Yeah.
Alvi: In the past decade, the gun industry has grown by an unprecedented amount.
There are now over 130,000 federal licenses issued to sell firearms in America.
Compare that to the estimated 14,000 McDonald's nationwide, and you have almost 10 times as many potential places to buy a gun as you do a Big Mac.
To accommodate this growth, gun manufacturing has expanded massively.
So, we're at Kel-Tec.
This is the largest gun manufacturer in Florida, and one of the largest in the country.
They're also the only gun manufacturer we contacted who's willing to let us film inside.
- Hey.
Suroosh.
- Hey.
How you doing? Good.
Nice to meet you.
- I'm Chad.
- Nice to meet you, Chad.
Enos: Step on out here.
This is our warehouse.
- This is the front half of our CNC shop.
- Wow.
Holy shit.
Enos: We have three shifts, and we run them pretty much 24/7.
- Alvi: Really? Wow.
- Enos: Yeah.
Alvi: What's your favorite part of your job? The fact that I make guns.
- Yeah.
- I love guns.
- You do? - Yeah.
(clacks) (whirs) He can do this with his eyes closed at this point, right? Enos: We do about 150,000 guns a year.
Every year, the back order seems to get bigger.
Alvi: While manufacturing work nationwide has declined drastically since the '80s, the gun industry has actually created more jobs, growing 81 percent since 2008.
What do you attribute this growth in Kel-Tec to? Enos: I think with the political landscape being what it was over the last eight years, people really needed stuff, you know? They felt like their rights were gonna be taken away, so they needed to get this, that, and the other before they couldn't get 'em anymore.
Alvi: The way the gun industry is portrayed by the media-- How does the gun industry feel about that? We feel attacked.
You know, any time you've got a political landscape that wants to put 260 people out of work, no matter what we're making, that's an attack.
A lot of that is perpetuated by the media in the way they cover these-- you know, these "mass shootings" and these terrible things that happen.
Alvi: So, why do gun sales go up after mass shootings then? Enos: Every time that happens, the public that owns firearms, they want to get those things before they get banned.
Alvi: The phenomenon Chad describes actually defined the Obama era.
Obama: As a country, we have been through this too many times, and we're gonna have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
Alvi: While Obama was pushing for tougher gun control laws after Sandy Hook, the three largest gun makers earned a record-breaking $247 million in profits the following year.
The years 2009 to 2016 have been referred to as the Barack boom.
When five of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in recent American history occurred and gun sales nearly doubled.
It's not even the fact that a particular firearm was used in a shooting.
It's the fact that everyone's scared that the government's gonna ban that particular gun.
(cheering) Alvi: Now, circumstances have fundamentally changed.
Trump: The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end.
Alvi: Donald Trump's win insured that no gun control laws would be forthcoming, which sent gun stocks into a downward spiral.
Without the fear of gun control, the firearms industry is missing its greatest marketing tool ever, so they're having to innovate.
And there's no better way to insure the future security of an industry than appealing to the next generation.
(beeps) (guns firing) (bullets pinging) Good finish.
All right.
Man: Show me clear.
Cool as ice.
Leia Edmonds: She competes against retired military, active duty law enforcement, - border patrol.
- Mmm.
I get asked all the time, "Oh my gosh, are you worried when she starts dating?" And I go "Not at all.
" Man: Shooter ready? Standby.
(beeps) (bullets pinging) Dan: Last year at the Smith & Wesson Nationals, she placed fourth in the country in pre-teen rifle.
That's big.
Excellent! At last year's NRA convention, one of her sponsors advertised appearances at their booth for her.
And I was stunned.
I turned around, and there was a line of 40 adults that were lined up to get her autograph.
Two hours of just signing autographs.
Now, that's insane.
Alvi: Industry-sponsored organizations donate tens of millions of dollars to youth shooting programs every year.
And just like the "X" Games did for skateboarders, these shooting leagues have transformed their young participants into branding gold for gun businesses.
Edmonds: Alamo Tactical have sponsored two pistols for her.
Molon Labe custom-built her AR-15s.
Blade Tech provide all of the magazine holders, the gun belts, the different holsters, Gun For Hire, for the last three years running, has given her a check for $5,000 a year - to help cover expenses.
- That's why his logo's so, so big.
In a lot of ways, it's like NASCAR.
The more you contribute, the bigger you get advertised on the jersey.
Yeah.
Alvi: Shyanne and Vanessa don't just shoot competitively, they're also part of an organization cofounded by Shyanne's father that advocates for gun rights known as Youth Shooters of America.
(Shyanne speaking) So, Shyanne, you spoke to the New Jersey senate when you were 10 years old? - About what? - 'Cause at the time, they were trying to lower the magazine limits to 10 rounds, and I was saying how that could potentially hurt my career, and I no longer would be able to do it in that state if they had passed that law.
And what happened? They didn't pass it.
They vetoed it.
Alvi: In their fight for broader gun laws, these kids have become America's youngest gun lobbyists.
Meredith: Hey, guys Are we going to see the normalization of guns in this country on some level? I believe that the movement of gun control is almost on life support.
I think we have a four-year window that, if we do it right, we could actually put a serious, serious setback on gun control.
Alvi: The next phase in the gun rights movement has already begun.
This year, two separate bills were introduced before Congress, which would greatly expand the rights of concealed carriers, effectively erasing many gun-free zones within public schools and government lands.
And the firearms industry is already in lockstep with this legislation as they accessorize to meet the needs of the concealed-carry consumer.
Man: It's a breakaway opening.
Everything is hidden under the waistband.
Man 2: Oh, I see.
I can just snap my wrist and draw.
Woman: I created a concealed-carry line of holsters that were practical for women.
You wouldn't know it, but I'm actually carrying three firearms and a knife.
Man: The name of the jacket is the Executive.
I'm ready to roll.
Pepper spray, a fully-weighted 9mm Shield.
Here's a knife, and in here, magazines.
Alvi: Concealed carry is growing in popularity as more people feel the need to protect themselves everywhere they go, but what they're protecting themselves from can vary greatly.
Mohammad Shuayb is a dentist who recently decided to conceal carry even at work.
Are you ready? Yes.
Shuayb: About a year and a half ago, I went and got my concealed weapons permit.
It's a .
357, and it'll do its job.
It doesn't even have a safety on it.
So, all you have to do is pull the trigger? - That's it.
- I will give this back to you now.
- (laughs) Alvi: Dr.
Shuayb got his concealed carry permit because, as a Syrian Muslim, he felt increasingly targeted and in danger because of it.
When you walk with your wife in the mall, you can see how people look at her, like they just want to come and tear her scarf off, like it's bothering them or something.
Mmm.
Is the Muslim community here feeling more targeted? Very.
It's not like, all of a sudden, you have an influx of white supremacist people.
It's like this constant negative rhetoric is infusing them with something.
And you never know who's gonna switch up on you.
That's why I carry it.
Does it make you feel safer, owning the gun? No.
No.
Having it on you makes you think of the worst-case scenario more.
It's become an environment where nobody is comfortable.
So, we're standing outside the Islamic Society of New Tampa.
This mosque was attacked by an arsonist last week, and hate crimes like this have been on the rise since Trump started campaigning two years ago.
(man on phone) This is the kind of stuff the community deals with.
It's You know, our work's been growing more important by the day, unfortunately.
I mean, we've had a huge influx of calls for help, especially since Donald Trump started his campaign, targeting the American- Muslim community.
If you take it back to November of 2015, - Mm-hmm.
- Since then, unfortunately, we've documented a 500 percent increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes.
Mosques being torched and burned down Our own-- a mosque I go to, I do sermons at sometimes, was arsoned over this past weekend.
How has the Muslim community in Florida responded to that? Unfortunately, many of us were pushed to start considering taking serious measures to arm and protect ourselves.
If somebody's going to come at you, or your family, or your house of worship, with violent intentions, you need to be ready.
Especially-- I'm giving the sermon, you see somebody walking in, opening fire, what are you gonna do, you know? Are you gonna have to duck for cover and watch your members getting slaughtered? Or can you whip out your handgun and do what you have to do to keep your community safe? Can you? Yes, and you should.
Alvi: With so many millions of guns, being produced and purchased every year, and only 10 states requiring owners to report when they get lost or stolen, the illegal market for guns in America is huge.
An upcoming Harvard-Northeastern University study estimates that 400,000 guns are stolen every year, many of which are sold on the black market.
Researchers estimate that these illegal guns get used in as many as eight out of every 10 gun crimes (gunfire) primarily in poor, urban centers like Chicago, Baltimore, and Detroit.
Thanks.
(man speaks) (man 2 speaks) (laughter) (man 3 speaks) So, where do these guns actually come from? (man speaks) Alvi: Mm-hmm.
(man speaks) Alvi: Yeah.
Why don't you guys buy guns legally? Why do you have to come here? (man 2 speaks) Alvi: And are there a lot of people like you? (man speaks) Alvi: For years, the Obama administration pushed for stricter gun control laws under the belief that they would curtail crime.
But that era has given way to a different belief.
The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.
Alvi: It's a belief backed by an industry that values itself at over $50 billion and a president that broke spending records campaigning for it.
(cheering) You know, when people can defend themselves and their families, we're all safer.
Everyone should have a gun that's sane, trained, and have-- be able to use it for protection.
Van: I will defend my right to own a gun until they take it from my hands forcibly.
I have a thousand rounds in my closet.
I hold a thousand lives in my closet.
Trump: You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you.
(cheers, applause) It was only a year ago that the COP Paris agreement was ratified with 146 countries committing to limit global warming to less than two degrees Celsius.
Now, it looked like the world was finally coming together to tackle climate change.
But now, with President Trump and his administration of climate-change skeptics and pro-fossil fuel appointees, America is reversing course.
It is time to exit the Paris accord.
Now, to see that school of thought already in progress, ironically, you have no further to look than Russia, a pro-energy country that sees climate change not as a threat but instead an economic opportunity.
It's not as cold as I thought it would be here.
(speaking Russian) Toboni: Sergey Balmasov helps coordinate shipping traffic in Murmansk, the world's biggest Arctic port.
He told us that with warming temperatures, the city will thrive.
What is Murmansk known for? (speaks Russian) Toboni: The Northern Sea Route is a legendary shipping lane along Russia's Arctic coastline that has been largely inaccessible because of the dense sea ice.
But now, that ice is melting, opening up vast, untouched reserves of oil, gas, and minerals.
So, while much of the world fears the catastrophic effects of climate change, Russia is looking to capitalize on it.
This is the Murmansk port.
It's called the gateway to the Arctic.
We're about to get on this massive cargo ship that's owned by Norilsk Nickel, and we're gonna ride with them along the Northern Sea Route as they transport a bunch of nickel and copper to the next port city, Arkhangelsk.
Norilsk Nickel, a massive shipping and mining conglomerate worth more than $20 billion is just one of the companies betting big on the Northern Sea Route.
Just a few years ago, navigating these waters was extremely difficult, but that's changing now.
The ice is melting away at record rates, shrinking in summer months to about a quarter of its size in just 30 years.
How much has traffic increased on the Northern Sea Route in the last few years? (Kirill Korneyev speaks) Toboni: Cargo ships traveling from Russia have historically used the Suez Canal to reach Asia navigating around three continents, and often traveling more than 10,000 miles.
However, the Northern Sea Route cuts that distance almost in half and can save up to 15 days in travel time.
(Kirill speaks Russian) Toboni: And that exploitation doesn't stop with sea routes.
Norilsk's ability to ship faster and cheaper also means stepping up its core business, mining.
We're going down into Norilsk's nickel mine right now.
We're going more than a kilometer underground.
(man speaks Russian) (whirring) Toboni: But as production here increases, so does the environmental impact.
What's that smell? (speaking Russian) Toboni: What are the effects of that being released into the air, into the environment? (speaks Russian) Toboni: The difference is Norilsk Nickel emits so much sulfur dioxide, that acid rain has left a dead zone around the city as far as the eye can see.
This, combined with heavy metal waste that seeps into the ground and the water, has turned Norilsk into one of the most polluted cities on Earth.
And while Norilsk has made efforts to reduce its footprint, just last year, a chemical spill turned one of the local rivers bright red.
And studies have shown that Norilsk's waterways are flush with industrial pollution.
But with business booming, residents here don't seem to mind.
Is it safe to swim here? Is it polluted? (speaking Russian) Nyet.
(laughs) Toboni: How has the environment been affected by all the mines and the factories and all of that? (laughter) Toboni: But it's not just he locals here that are putting a positive spin on the effects of pollution.
We spoke to Nobel-prize winning climatologist Dr.
Oleg Anisimov, who is studying what climate change could mean for the Russian economy.
We see the effects of climate change as negative, catastrophic.
Do you see it that way? No.
The problem of climate change is actually the problem of adaptation to climate change.
This is not a tragedy.
Certainly, some places will become unlivable.
But on the other hand, there are places that will become more livable.
One should not consider challenge of climate change without connection to the potential benefits.
There are regions in the world where there are no potential benefits, but Russia is not such a region.
The list of gains is, perhaps, advances of the modern agricultural lands to the north, which creates lot of jobs.
We have savings on the heating energy.
The task is to turn these potential benefits into real benefits.
Russia is lucky.
Toboni: And as climate change continues to create new economic opportunities, Russia's fossil fuel industry is in the mood to celebrate.
It's National Oil Day in Russia, and we're in Surgut, which is the oil capital of the country, and also one of its fastest-growing cities.
And Gazprom, one of the big oil companies here, is throwing a huge celebration for all of their workers.
(man speaks on P.
A.
) Toboni: Not only were residents of Surgut unconcerned about climate change, many we spoke to felt overwhelmingly positive about it.
(speaking Russian) (speaks Russian, chuckles) (fireworks crackling, popping) Toboni: This nonchalant attitude is now a national phenomenon.
A recent Pew study revealed that Russians were the least concerned people on the planet over the threat of global climate change.
And as the population surges in boomtowns like Surgut, developers are cashing in.
(Evgeny Barsov speaks Russian over headset) Toboni: Local real estate mogul Evgeny Barsov is building whole neighborhoods from scratch to accommodate the influx of people.
(Barsov speaks) Toboni: As we looked out on his budding real estate empire, Evgeny repeated familiar arguments often used by fossil fuel proponents in the US.
Do you ever hear about climate change on the radio, or on TV, or in the newspaper? (speaks Russian) Toboni: Not a single person we spoke to in Surgut took the threat of climate change seriously, and they might be taking their cues from Russian state media.
Toboni: While the Russian media tries to sow doubt about climate change, the first signs of its long-term impact are already plain to see.
(Toboni speaks on headset) (man speaks Russian on headset) Toboni: At Lake Baikal, a jewel of Russian tourism, forest fires last year were some of the worst in history and were covered extensively by the international press.
Newswoman: Fifty-one individual fires have spread across tens of thousands of acres of land.
Newsman: Particularly hard hit were the forests around the world's largest and deepest freshwater lake.
Toboni: NASA's satellite imagery showed more than eight million acres of forest were destroyed in early 2016, but the Russian government tried to downplay it, reporting just a fraction of the damage.
It seemed like everyone in Russia wanted to focus on the benefits of climate change while ignoring the costs.
And the national narrative is being orchestrated from just one place, the Kremlin.
To get the government's official stance, we spoke to President Putin's top climate change advisor, Alexander Bedritsky.
Russia's pledge in Paris actually allows the country to increase emissions for years to come.
Why is that? (speaking Russian) Toboni: Until recently, many Americans would've considered this an outdated philosophy that only made sense during the industrial revolution.
But now, it's once again becoming doctrine in the US as well.
Regarding climate change, I think the president was fairly straightforward.
We're not spending money on that anymore.
We consider that to be a waste of your money.
(cheering) A show of hands, those of you who kind of hope Administrator Pruitt will just sort of make the EPA go away.
(cheering) (both laugh) As of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the nonbinding Paris accord.
What do you think America's role is in fighting climate change compared to Russia? (speaking Russian) (applause) But with all these economic opportunities, it's hard to deny that climate change will be financially beneficial for Russia.