"After Newtown" Says Nothing About "Guns in America" that the Constitution Doesn't Review

Once again, PBS uses a misleading title to present a serious documentary. Just as the Space Shuttle Columbia documentary only focuses on one of the astronauts, so After Newtown: Guns in America only focuses on the history of guns in America (thus, 45 minutes of the documentary occur before the Newtown tragedy). While it may seem that the film is trying to capitalize on the tragedy, it merely uses that as a jumping-off point to make a statement about gun control in America.

Guns in America presents a very strong argument for the right to bear arms. Not only do they regurgitate that oft-repeated phrase about how it’s not the gun but the person using it that causes the violence but they also present relevant facts about gun use—for instance, the taxes collected from the purchase of guns and ammunition fund wildlife conservation. However, the more subtle implications of the presented history seem to defend guns purely because America was founded with the use of guns.

Does a history of violence justify the escalating instances of violence in our nation? Sure, guns came in handy when winning the Revolutionary War, but they caused more damage than good when it came to the Prohibition Era, as the film so kindly points out. And, as it also (bleakly) points out, there is nothing we can really do as far as gun control is concerned to stop this escalating violence.

Instead, we must wait for (hope for? strive for?) a “fundamental change” in gun violence, as one interviewee poignantly puts it. A fitting aspiration, but one that the documentary only half-handedly alludes to. They in no way attempt to “solve” such a problem (or interview those who have a solution), weakening whatever “statement” this documentary was attempting to present.

Ultimately, Guns in America provides the slimmest of histories regarding gun usage in our nation’s past. And with no new insight into the current state of gun control, what exactly was the goal when producing this film?

DVD Bonus Features

There are no special features.

"After Newtown: Guns in America" is on sale July 9, 2013 and is not rated. Documentary. Written and directed by Jonathan Silvers. Starring Richard Harris.

Jul
12
2013
John Keith • Staff Writer

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