Saturday, May 11, 2019

BEHIND THE BULLET: A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON GUN VIOLENCE




Here's how this week's arts and culture column begins:

“Behind the Bullet” is a documentary, directed and produced by Heidi Yewman, with the tagline: “4 Shooters. 4 Stories. A New Perspective on Gun Violence.”

Yewman is a graduate of Columbine High School and lost her former basketball coach Dave Sanders in the 1999 mass shooting. She’s since written a book, also called “Beyond the Bullet,” subtitled “Personal Stories of Gun Violence Aftermath.”

Still, she intentionally tried to keep her own bias out of it. “I want to have a conversation with people, especially gun owners, and I can’t do that if they’re feeling judged or preached to.”

Thus, the film offers no statistics till the closing credits. And its focus is not on people who have been shot, but rather the impact on those who have pulled the trigger.

The first person we meet is Christen McGinnes, who is putting on makeup and has clearly undergone some kind of major physical trauma. “One of the hardest things I had to face was not having a face,” she says. “The two years I couldn’t eat, talk or drink were the most difficult.”

McGinnes had bought a gun in case someone broke into her room. In a moment of profound emotional pain, she picked it up, went out on her balcony, prayed for forgiveness, and shot herself in the head.

She now works with other gunshot trauma victims, and at the time had undergone 45 surgeries. I had to close my eyes during Operation No. 46 shown in the film, but the point was well taken: This is what a gunshot does to a human face.

Says Yewman: “It was hard to find someone who had survived a suicide by gun, and who could and would talk about it. We spend a lot of time talking about school shootings, but the fact is that 60 percent of gun deaths are from suicide. So I felt I really should include one such story.”

READ THE WHOLE PIECE HERE.

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