Five years of Sandy Hook: A look at movies that grappled with America's gun problem

Abhinav Jai Singh

Dec 14, 2017 19:47:00 IST

Five years ago, on this day, the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre took place in the small town of Newtown, Connecticut. The mass shooting took not only America, but the world by storm. People were shocked at the sheer horror that unfolded on 14 December, 2012.

Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old perpetrator of the massacre, attended Sandy Hook Elementary School for four and a half years and lived with his mother not too far away from where the massacre took place.

Sandy Hook massacre attracted attention of the entire world. America's gun problem; its almost fetishistic infatuation with dangerous firearms, had finally reached the breaking point, or so it seemed. President Obama, who would always come out to issue a statement after a mass-shooting, cried in front of the cameras. The victims this time were children. Twenty children, aged seven and six, were shot to death by Lanza.

Five years on, America's love affair with semi-automatic and automatic guns remains intact. The government, despite a tragedy of such grieve proportions, weren't able to bring in gun laws that could put an end to the manic hoarding of guns in America.

But, we did get movies and documentaries that talked about gun violence in America and the way forward to sensible gun laws. Today, on the fifth anniversary of Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, we take a look at some of these movies and what they portray.


Based on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre — the worst school shooting in history — the traumatized community of Newtown, Connecticut finds a new sense of purpose in this intimate story of resilience. Newtown is a documentary and features the people whose lives were changed forever after the shooting took place. Directed by Kim A Snyder, the movie remembers the children who lost their lives to senseless violence and attempts to reopen old wounds so that the people never forget what transpired that day. It's a heartbreaking documentary to watch as the whole town comes together to try and heal wounds that would never heal.

Midsummer in Newtown

Another documentary based on the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, in Midsummer in Newtown a group of artists from New York travel to Newtown to work with kids from the local school system to mount an adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Directed by Lloyd Kramer and The Documentary Group, Midsummer in Newtown follows the children's journey as they explore Shakespeare's language for the first time. It showcases how children, who were present during the time of the shooting, use their inner strength to come together and heal.

The Armor of Light

American politics is steeped in two things: God and guns. You cannot win an election if you don't profess your belief in, and love for, God. You also might not win an election if you don't support the second amendment, or the right of an individual to own firearms. In American politics, guns are indispensable. In The Armor of Light, an Evangelical minister and the mother of a teenager killed in gun violence, travel across America to try and figure out why American politics is so deeply immersed in the ownership of guns, why do Americans consider owning firearms a right from God, and whether it is possible to be a pro-life and pro-gun at the same time.

Under the Gun

The trailer for Under the Gun sheds light on a lot of interesting facts about guns in America, for example, in America, there are more gun stores than Starbucks and McDonald's combined! What led to this situation? How did America start to form policies where a person on the terror watch-list can't board the plane but can buy a gun? What is the role of the National Rifle Association in pushing the agenda of guns in America? Under the Gun, release around last years US Presidential elections, is a great watch to understand the situation of guns in America.

Bowling for Columbine

Directed by Michael Moore, this Academy Award winning documentary came into existence after the Columbine School Massacre. It's a look at America's love affair with firearms and the pathology of violence in the United States; the country with the highest gun-murder rate in the world. It also examines why Canada - a country with 7 million guns for a total of 10 million households - doesn't suffer from the same gun violence that America does. Also, there is a cameo appearance by Marilyn Manson! Bowling for Columbine is an absolute essential watch to understanding the problem.

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Updated Date: Feb 06, 2018 17:50:28 IST