Sandy Hook Parents Speak at AFI Docs Screening of ‘Newtown’ in Wake of Democrats’ Sit-In

Newtown Sundance 2016
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Just hours after Democrats ended their sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, two of those who participated were greeted with applause at an AFI Docs screening of “Newtown.”

The documentary, from director Kim A. Snyder and producer Maria Cuomo Cole, is an intensely personal look at how the families of the victims and survivors of the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School have grieved and grappled with the horrific tragedy.

“We are going to deal with guns and not be frightened anymore,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-New York) told the audience gathered at the Newseum.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), who in the aftermath of the Orlando shootings walked out of a congressional moment of silence to protest inaction on gun control, said that “we can’t lose track of the fact that those who would have us slow down in addressing the disease that besets this country want to set it up as, mental health or guns, ISIS or guns, homophobia or guns. The reality is it is all those things, and guns.”

He said that the trouble he has with Congress’s seven-second “moments of silence” is that it is merely a brief stop in the day that can be an excuse for not taking meaningful action. The moment of silence, he said, “honors nobody.”

“It is emblematic of an utter neglect of duty on all our parts,” he said.

Twenty school children and six educators were killed in the mass shooting. In the aftermath, President Barack Obama ordered a series of meetings and recommendations for action to address gun violence, but Congress blocked legislation several months later to expand background checks.

Among those joining the filmmakers in a panel were two of the parents of children killed in the Sandy Hook shootings, Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley.

On stage after the screening, Barden actually apologized to the audience for the emotional punch of the movie, in which he and Hockley are among those who are profiled as they cope not just with their grief, but with moving forward with their lives.

“I’m sorry, I know how this affects everyone,” Barden told the audience.

Snyder said that the “impetus for the film was to break through a desensitization that was almost dangerous and inevitable for all of us and to really put a human portrait on what the fallout of violence looks like, and of gun violence, every time this is reaped on a community for years, forever.”

Daniel Webster, director of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at Johns Hopkins University, said that they provided a research book to Congress in the weeks after the Newtown tragedy because “we thought this was a time, and I think we have been proven right.”

“Congress has not acted, but many states have acted,” he said. “Many communities have acted. There is an enormous growing movement.”

The movie focuses much more on the families, even though the project shows Barden, Hockley and others advocating for action on gun violence through Sandy Hook Promise.

The frequency of mass shootings in the United States also has meant that that movie screenings have taken place in the aftermath of a recent tragedy.

Braden attended a Greenwich, Conn., screening of “Newtown” on June 12, after the Orlando shooting. He said that he and his wife were “processing the news coming out of Orlando with disbelief and horror and sadness and anger and frustration, like most of the country.”

They ran into Himes that day, he said. Barden said that what Himes did on the floor of Congress was “such a heroic and beautiful act, standing up to our Congress and saying, ‘No more.'”

Himes said his reaction to the movie is that there is “no way to process the enormity of the horrendousness that was visited on this small town in Connecticut, or the remarkable reaction of optimism and life that Nicole and Mark and 26 other families have exhibited since then. There really is no way.”

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  1. Gene Ralno says:

    I had hoped that Variety would reveal a bit of truth, inside information on the leftists. No such luck. This has become the leftist drill, citing rare catastrophic events and falsely representing them as common. Every time they hear a gunshot, they begin howling that a hundred million peaceable, lawful citizens who weren’t there should be punished with more regulation. But as usual, it’s just a distraction and a non-issue. The point is a Congressional Research Service study entitled “Mass Murder with Firearms…1999-2013,” found that mass shootings continue to be rare and the annual incidence is flat. In other words, mass shootings aren’t the issue. Because the FBI reported there’s no evidence that the shooter was LGBTQ, that leaves radical islam. The issue is jihad.

    Additionally, criminologist James Alan Fox found no solid trend in mass shooting numbers. Fact is, mass shootings account for only .004 percent of all deaths, about .66 percent of all murders and less than two percent of non-firearm murder victims. James Alan Fox clarified the data by pointing out the chance against a person being killed in a mass shooting would be about one in three million. Further, the CDC found that homicides by firearm have dropped by nearly half proportional to the population over the past two decades. During that time, sales of firearms tripled and ownership today is skyrocketing. Even if you cannot accept facts, it’s disgraceful that leftists believe disarming potential victims is rational.

    What’s missing is the data necessary to convince us that these laws will be effective. Instead of blindly accepting what leftists feed us, we need to start dealing with the real problem — not gun murders — just murders. Gun homicides are just part of the total reported murders per 100,000 population. In 1993 the number was seven. That number was reduced to to 3.8 per 100,000 by 2013. Of 218 nations measured, the U.S. now ranks 98th, about in the middle. Stated another way, your chances of being murdered in the U.S. are 38 thousandths of a percent (.000038). In the U.K., your chances are .8 thousandths of a percent (.000008). That’s a difference of 30 thousandths of a percent, a very small number any way you look at it. Leftists often say your chances of being murdered in the U.S. are almost five times as great as in the U.K. But five times almost nothing is still almost nothing. In other words this is a non-issue.

    When considering nations with lower murder rates, one must consider the large number of murders by illegal aliens, a major factor in the U.S. and in no other place on earth. Factoring out the GAO’s latest estimate of 5,639 annual murders by illegal aliens, the U.S. murders per 100,000 would be reduced to 2.1. That number would place the U.S. well within the safest one-third of the world. Someone should tell the leftists that tinkering with a system that works may make matters worse. Perhaps our political leaders should read more and focus on real problems, not just guns. And media should recognize that guns are a distraction, not an issue.

  2. eddie willers says:

    Adults acting like children having tantrums on the floors of Congress was petty in the eyes most Americans. Of course, the fact that none of the thousands of gun laws already on the books or the ones proposed would have done nothing to stop either Newtown or Orlando doesn’t stop a determined Democrat from another futile effort.

    But here’s the truth:

    Unless you begin your argument with, “After we have repealed the 2nd amendment…” you are wasting your breath.

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