Can 16 strangers—some who say guns saved their lives, others who lost their children to bullets—find any sort of common ground? For its December 26, 2016-January 8, 2017 cover story by contributing editor Lisa Miller, New York organized an experiment in radical empathy through story exchange, in partnership with the nonprofit group Narrative 4, co-founded by novelist Colum McCann.
For the cover image by Marco Grob, the editors chose a portrait of Todd Underwood and Carolyn Tuft, because their exchange had such emotional power. “When Todd was done telling Carolyn’s story in the first person, everyone in the room was in tears,” says print editor Jared Hohlt. “It’s hard to imagine two people whose personal experiences with guns could be so starkly different: one lost her daughter in a mass shooting in which she herself was shot. The other runs a site on which gun owners can sell weapons to each other, and facilitated the auction of the weapon that was used to kill Trayvon Martin. And yet what happened after they exchanged their stories shows that some kind of mutual understanding is perhaps possible.”