It’s the start of another day in a Virginia gun shop owned by Carl (Donald Sutherland
) an honest and caring man who’s sold firearms to hunters and sportsmen for decades, always sidestepping politics and controversy. His newest employee is granddaughter Mary-Anne (Linda Cardellini
), a college freshman pressured to join the family business.
Before long, curiosity overcomes her, and she becomes seduced by the products around her. Across the country we meet Janet (Marcia Gay Harden), the single mother of a suburban high school shooter, struggling with painful questions during a heart-wrenching television interview. It's the shooting's third anniversary and her younger son David (Chris Marquette) is now the same age his brother was when he killed 17 people before turning the gun on himself.
Watching the interview intently is Frank (Tony Goldwyn), the middle-aged deputy still haunted by vicious accusations that he could have prevented the tragedy. A world away, on Chicago's gritty west side, we bear witness to Principal Carter's (Forest Whitaker) daily struggle to keep his violent inner-city high school from self destructing, while his wife desperately fears for the safety of their 10-year-old son. When straight-A student Jelani, who works nights to support himself and his siblings, is caught hiding a handgun in the bushes outside the school, both principal and student find themselves facing decisions they never wanted to make.