The title of Skye Fitzgerald’s latest feature documentary, 101 Seconds, is a reference to the Clackamas Town Center shooting that took place on December 11, 2012, three days before the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It only took the Clackamas Town Center shooter 101 seconds to murder two bystanders, wound another, and take his own life. In the aftermath of the shooting, many of the surviving family members became gun safety advocates.
101 Seconds highlights these activists’ stories as well as the work of Oregon State Senator Ginny Burdick, “one of the [Oregon State] Legislature’s leading advocates for gun safety legislation” (Source). Another prominent voice in the film is that of Stephen King. After reading King’s non-fiction essay Guns, Fitzgerald realized that he and King shared many of the same fundamental beliefs surrounding the state of gun violence in America. Fitzgerald and his fellow producer on the project reached out to King to interview him for the documentary, and King agreed, lending an eloquent and knowledgeable voice to the project.
Although Stephen King is a gun owner he is also an advocate for gun safety and common sense gun laws. King felt compelled to write Guns for a number of reasons. Like many Americans, he felt upset by the many mass shootings that the country has experienced over the years. However, he also felt a personal responsibility to speak out due to a book he published in the 1970s titled Rage. The book focuses on a school shooting, and a number of real-life shooters owned the book or considered the book’s character to be a hero. King decided to let the book go out of print so that fewer people could be influenced by it. When speaking to Fitzgerald about his decision to no longer print the book, King said:
“Well you have a discussion with yourself when you find out you wrote something that’s been associated with acts of violence, and when you realize that real people in the real world identified with a character to the point of saying, ‘If Charlie Decker picks up a gun, I can pick up a gun.’ There are a couple of ways you can go. One way is to say, ‘I had no responsibility for that. I just wrote a book. I didn’t have anything to do with the shooting.’ Or you can say, ‘Yeah, okay. I might have had some sort of influence on this.’”
King pulled the book because otherwise he would feel somewhat complicit in the killings that were inspired by or related to his creation. Related to that view King believes that society must ask itself how willing it is to allow guns to flow basically unregulated throughout the country. In the interview, King mentions how important it is for survivors of mass shootings to not allow the event to leave them crippled and in fear. If that is the result then the shooter “wins.”
101 Seconds documents what happens when the shooter doesn’t win. The individuals and families featured in the film are brave survivors who refuse to be complicit in the face of tragic events. Like King, they recognize that common sense gun laws will prevent future tragedies from occurring, and they are standing up to do something about it.