A Filmmakers' Insights Into the Recent Oregon School Shooting

On December 11, 2012, a 22-year old man rushed into the mall at Clackamas Town Center in Oregon and shot dead two people. Eighteen months later and about 18 miles away, there was another shooting in Oregon, when a high school shot another student and then himself at Reynolds High School on the outskirts of Portland. And, two weeks ago, a troubled 26-year old man shot nine students at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. It was the forty-first school shooting in 2015.

Patrick Weishampel is the creative director of Blankeye, a production company that has been working on 101 Seconds, a documentary film that starts with the shooting at Clackamas Town Center and, ostensibly, follows the lives of relatives from the Clackamas shooting as they work to put their lives back together.

“Our film follows both the course of the victims' families' lives post-tragedy, the roller-coaster of their fight for greater gun safety legislation, and the lives of those in staunch support of 2nd amendment rights,” explains Weishampel. He goes on, “101 Seconds reveals the deep tensions surrounding guns in America, and bears witness to the persistent challenges of finding a place where both sides can agree.”

The narrative arc of the film follows a recent effort by Oregon lawmakers to push for background checks in Oregon. It is something that passed, but that all elected officials from Roseburg voted against—a decision we wonder whether they now stand by.

Weishampel is a Portland-based video and motion graphics editor who has worked in film and television since 2003. He earned a BFA in photography and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee, and has worked as an art director, editor, and multimedia designer. He has designed motion graphics and edited more than ten films, and freelances as an editor for Oregon Public Broadcasting. A preview of the film is available.

Campus Law Considered asked Weishampel for his insights into the documentary, and how this documentary can help inform and encourage a meaningful dialogue about gun control and culture in America—and on college campuses.

CLC: Can you provide a synopsis of the documentary?

PW: 101 Seconds reveals the deep tensions surrounding guns in America, and bears witness to the persistent challenges of finding a place where both sides can agree. Through an intimate lens and personal perspectives that are real, authentic, and fresh, our subjects go to battle for and against new gun safety legislation in Oregon. Spurred by a shooting at Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Oregon, and the Sandy Hook tragedy which occurred only days after, we are crafting a story that intimately explores the place of guns in America and the lives of the people affected by gun violence.

By developing relationships with our subjects made up of lawmakers, victims’ families, and activist groups on both sides of the debate, we have captured the underbelly of this fractious topic. Our film follows both the course of the victims' families' lives post-tragedy, the roller-coaster of their fight for greater gun safety legislation, and the lives of those in staunch support of 2nd amendment rights. 101 Seconds is a complex puzzle that, while focusing on the gun debate, examines the nature of grief and the role of class and education in political extremism.

CLC: The Oregon Firearms Safety Act plays a central role in the film, right? Can you explain the goal of that law? And why was its introduction and passage dramatic enough to be part of a feature film?

PW: The Oregon Firearms Safety Act closed a loophole that allowed private sales, including online sales, to be completed without a background check. It’s an important role in the film from a couple standpoints. For one, it has been over 14 years since Oregon has passed any significant gun legislation and only the eighth state to have expanded background checks. Washington passed a similar measure via popular vote six months prior. Story-wise though, it’s an important moment for our subjects on both sides of the issue. We began documenting their fights for and against new gun safety measures shortly after the Clackamas Town Center shooting here in Oregon and the Sandy Hook tragedy, which happened only days later. In the 2013 session our subjects saw the legislation fail without even reaching the floor, so having the Oregon Firearms Safety

Act pass this last year has been both a triumph after defeat and a defeat post triumph for those in opposition.

CLC: What were the arguments made against the new background checks in Oregon?

PW: A lot of those in opposition felt that it wouldn’t change anything and that it was unenforceable. There were several arguments that it was cost prohibitive when transferring guns and created undue duress on “law abiding citizens” making it take longer for people interested in buying a gun to make a purchase.

CLC: What surprised you most about gun laws in the making of this film?

PW: I was most surprised in the lack of dialogue between people on either side of the issue and the amount of vitriol towards those attempting to create gun safety laws.

CLC: Are you optimistic or pessimistic that gun control laws can help curb gun violence –or, that those laws even can be passed?

PW: I would say I am optimistic that gun safety laws can help bring down the numbers of people killed or injured by guns and that those laws will eventually get passed. I would add though that I’m pretty pessimistic that these laws will be passed anytime soon. The analogy that I keep returning to was brought up by someone we interviewed. That person had been a part of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) since its conception and said that it just takes time, but that it will eventually happen. The alcohol companies fought tooth and nail against drunk driving laws, presented similar arguments, such as 'people will drive drunk whether you make a law or not', and yet we now culturally accept that drinking and driving is wrong, that there are consequences.

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