This month’s Sundance Film Festival, a 10-day salute to movies that are often hailed as tapping into the national zeitgeist, have two films this year on gun violence: Katie Couric’s “Under the Gun” and Kim Snyder’s “Newtown.” Both will be screened by influential audiences this week with a plan for larger distribution over the year. And both will no doubt question what we as Americans should do to prevent mass shootings and to heal afterward.
The ripple effects of mass shootings are immense. Earlier this month school leaders in Newtown testified to Connecticut’s state board of education about the ongoing mental health difficulties that children in Newtown are having three years after the massacre at Sandy Hook. As a trauma psychologist and a pediatrician, we were saddened, but not surprised, by this report. Working in New Haven, just 20 miles from Newtown, we both have colleagues and patients who are in those concentric circles of Sandy Hook and have felt the effects in our professional and personal lives. As health care professionals, mothers, and neighbors of Newtown, we wondered what we as a nation have learned about long-term healing in places like Columbine and Virginia Tech.