Two films explore gun violence, aftermath

Two films, "Tower" and "Newtown," explore campus carnage.
Two films, "Tower" and "Newtown," explore campus carnage.
Image: Websites for both films.
Both cases involved massacres at schools. Both involved young men with mental health issues who took aim at family members before taking the lives of others. Both involved heroism, mourning and, in the end, calls to action. 

    And both, one at the University of Texas in 1966, and the other at Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012, are the focus of separate documentaries. 
    The film, Tower, explores a mass shooting that occurred Aug. 1, 1966, when a sniper killed his mother and wife before positioning himself atop a tower at the University of Texas, Austin.  
    Directed and produced by Keith Maitland, the film uses animation and archival footage to recount events of 50 years ago. The case involved a young man suffering from mental illness -- Charles Whitman, a former Marine and an exceptional marksman. In all, Whitman killed 16 and wounded approximately three dozen others.
     A police officer was among the dead and, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica's account, afterward, “Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams began to be created across the country, and they would come into play with the rise of mass shootings over the subsequent decades.”
     The Texas shooting was also among the first incidents that involved on-the-scene media coverage, which has since become standard operating procedure in broadcasting.
     Tower is now screening at film festivals and various theaters. The documentary's website has a schedule.
     The second film is a matter of recent, still-painful history -- the fatal shooting of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
    Dec. 14, 2012 is seared into memory as the excruciating day that 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot and killed his mother, then drove to the school and opened fire. A report by the Office of the Child Advocate in Connecticut concluded that Lanza had a long history of mental illness and that there were early indications of his "preoccupation with violence, depicted by extremely graphic writings that appeared to have been largely unaddressed by schools and possibly by parents." 
    The documentary film Newtown examines how the survivors grieved, then put their energy into gun reform and watched as little was done. In 2013, the Senate defeated a bill focused on gun buyer background checks. But in January of this year, President Barack Obama unveiled executive actions aimed at closing loopholes in gun sales, getting help for the mentally ill and improving the background check process. 
    Filmed over three years, Newtown is the work of award-winning director and producer Kim A. Snyder and will open nationwide Nov. 2. That night, it also will be shown as part of a special event with a town hall discussion. 
     Here are the trailers: 


    Sandy Hook case: History of a war weapon

    Obama unveils measures to curb gun violence

    If you would like to comment give us a shout or like us on Facebook and tell us what you think.