by Kate Newton
Just over two months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., PBS is asking America, “Where do we go from here?” with special programming aptly named “After Newtown.” The series of specials, first announced by the network in January, began airing Monday and will continue through Feb. 22.
Mixing documentary-style reports with commentaries on gun control, mental health and possible prevention of similar acts of violence in the future, “After Newtown” was designed expose the many relevant issues surrounding the shooting, as well as resonate emotionally with viewers still seeking closure, according to a PBS press release:
“This week of specials gives PBS the opportunity to take an in-depth and thoughtful look at the issues the Newtown tragedy laid bare,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. “As we mourn the lives lost in Newtown, it is important to present the facts, the science, and the history behind the issues to provide information and context as we collectively look at how better to protect and serve our communities.”
Tuesday night’s programming includes an “After Newtown: Guns in America” special, echoing the name of the controversial Piers Morgan program that stirred some rather uncivilized responses after its airing. This iteration will explore America’s “enduring relationship” with guns from a historical perspective, in respects to the changing expectations for regulation and the vastly polarizing political stances on the Second Amendment. The program will air at 9 p.m. ET, and repeat Thursday at 10 p.m.
A Frontline special focusing on the shooter, Adam Lanza, will immediately follow “Guns in America,” and is told through the eyes of two Hartford Courant reporters who attempted to uncover more about Lanza’s life, relationships, and motive to carry out the unthinkable: taking the lives of 26 children and adults, among them his own mother. “Raising Adam Lanza” will show the many reactions of despair and surprise that emanated from those who knew Lanza and his family in the days after the shooting, using never-before-seen footage and photos.
NOVA documentary “Mind of a Rampage Killer” will premiere Wednesday, investigating whether science can play a role in understand mass shootings and other large-scale crimes. While any new insight provided to an issue so pressing is appreciated, it seems unlikely that scientific breakthroughs made since December will shed any new light on the motivation that drive killers like Lanza. That still won’t stop neuroscientists, behavioral therapists and psychologists from putting in their two cents - and they’ll do the same when history unfortunately, and inevitably, repeats itself.
Also airing Wednesday, “The Path to Violence” (http://www.pbs.org/programs/path-to-violence/) considers the effectiveness of the Safe School Initiative in the years following the Columbine shooting, while also fielding questions of the limited abilities of security guards and other law enforcement to stop these attacks before they happen. “A student must have greater access to mental health treatment than he does to weapons,” says one woman in the trailer, one of several voices meant to present improved mental health tests as a means to more effectively stop shootings before they happen.
PBS NewsHour programs will precede the “After Newtown” specials through Friday, focusing on issues from violence in video games to the debate on Florida’s concealed weapons laws. For the full schedule of the “After Newtown” programming via Arizona Public Media, click here - but be aware of conflicting/unnecessarily confusing times by referring to the channel guide on your TV.