Today, December 14, 2017, marks five years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. For the past 18 months the documentary film Newtown has screened across the country at film festivals, churches, medical conferences, theatres and broadcast nationally on PBS’s Independent Lens with one of its largest viewing audiences to date.
Last week Grinnell College in Iowa hosted a screening of Newtown followed by a panel discussion. Newsweek wrote an article about the gathering: Five Years After Sandy Hook, the NRA President's Neighbors Plead for Real Talk on Gun Violence. In her opening remarks at this event (also broadcast on Facebook live), Newtown director Kim Snyder spoke directly about the still-raw grief saying, “We made the documentary to try and humanize this issue and tell more a story of collective grief than a particular agenda. That’s what we intended the film to do - to break beyond the partisan divide and invite gun owners and advocates alike to have an honest and heartfelt conversation.”
At Blueshift Education we have continued to support Kim and Newtown over this past year as the team navigates these difficult conversations and emotional screenings. Their #WeAreAllNewtown Impact Campaign is a long term journey that requires intention, grassroots efforts, relationship building, thoughtful strategy and ongoing dialogue about sensible gun ownership. Kim and others, including the Producer Maria Cuomo Cole and David Wheeler, father of 6 year old Ben, who was murdered at Sandy Hook, agreed that the conversation is changing and continues to change.
But like drunk driving and the MADD campaign or smoking (and secondhand smoke) and the multi-level policy and communications efforts around it, sensible gun ownership is a public health issue that requires a long term approach. On a personal level, it will include starting conversations with friends and making a habit of asking about guns in the house.On a policy level, it will include, passing laws such as background checks and ammunition controls, and knowing candidates’ positions on gun safety that matter to you and voting accordingly.
Blueshift will continue to support #WeAreAllNewtown Impact Campaign as long as it takes.
A petition was started at last week’s Grinnell event, Change.org Petition - Call on NRA Leadership to Keep Our Children Safe, and the page 10 Ways to Get Involved offers more ideas on how to support gun safety and sensible gun ownership efforts near you.