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Sandy hook shooting documentary Netflix, notes from dunblane review

Father Bob Weiss, who in the days following the Sandy Hook Massacre that took the lives of 26 children and teachers on December 14, 2012, was tasked with the burial of 8 of those children. In the throes of profound PTSD, he receives a letter from Father Basil O’Sullivan in Dunblane, Scotland where, in 1996, 16 school children were gunned down at the hands of an unhinged lone gunman. In the ensuing months, the two priests forge a bond across the Atlantic through a series of letters sharing experiences of trauma and recovery.

Netflix Original documentary sensitizes gun abuse

School shooting, two words that leave you feeling gut-wrenching once said. The Netflix Original documentary Lessons from a School Shooting: Notes from Dunblane follows Newtown, Connecticut and Dunblane, Scotland as both communities deal with the Sandy Hook shooting aftermath.


A gunman stormed Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012, killing 20 children and seven employees. The documentary follows Father Bob Weiss, pastor at Lima's local St. Rose Roman Catholic Church, who was deeply impacted by the shooting. Given the task of burying eight children, Weiss struggles to move beyond the cold December morning events.

On the other side of the world, Father Basil O'Sullivan saw comparisons between the Newtown shooting and a city massacre nearly two decades ago. In spring 1996, Dunblane's town was permanently changed by a school shooting that resulted in 16 children and one adult died. Like Weiss, O'Sullivan had to bury the child victims of the "Dunblane Massacre."

After hearing about Newtown's activities, O'Sullivan reached out to Weiss, offering his prayers and letting him know he's not alone. The two talked back and forth, prompting O'Sullivan to fly to Newtown and meet Weiss personally.

Throughout the documentary, Weiss is distressed by events and incapable of getting beyond his sorrow. He discusses how they trusted him to bury their kids, making it difficult for any audience not to tear up. At one point, we are told he checked himself into a PTSD psychiatric hospital, traumatized by the sight of the children gunned down in a classroom.

By showing events from a local pastor's eyes, the viewer gets a viewpoint not usually shared. Media analysis typically focuses on the surviving family members and how the incident rippled into their future. New side of children's death was seen in Weiss's storytelling. As someone who didn't know the kids, parents or teachers, he didn't concentrate on individuals. Instead, he talked of them together as a common tragedy he faced.

At one point, O'Sullivan took the camera crew to Dunblane's children's graves, pointing out which ones he personally buried. When the audience looks at the tiny tombs, they remember how a shooting affects everybody in town, not just the relatives.

At the end of the documentary, we get heart-wrenching numbers. About 1,600 shootings have occurred since December 2010. Gun regulations, however were difficult to enact with the National Rifle Association offering substantial amounts to key lawmakers including Sens. Mitch McConnell and Marco Rubio's campaigns.

On the other hand, the documentary shows that the UK has enacted some of the world's strictest gun regulations since the attack, resulting in far fewer mass shootings. This was interesting to learn how two different countries responded to similar massacres, one taking action and the other making no significant legislative changes.

People around the U.S. may be split over their gun safety beliefs, but this documentary shows the nation is not doing enough to save students from gun violence. Whether tighter control of weapons or stronger mental health checks, something must improve.

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