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This PSA Focuses On “The Other Side” Of Gun Violence

Sandy Hook Promise’s PSA spotlights the importance of flagging warning signs of a potential shooter. It’s a good point but one that we’re well past by now.

This PSA Focuses On “The Other Side” Of Gun Violence

What: A new PSA from Sandy Hook Promise that puts its focus on a potential shooter.

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Who: Sandy Hook Promise, BBDO New York

Why we care: I’m a big fan of the work Sandy Hook Promise does, and the PSAs it’s created with BBDO New York, especially 2016’s “Evan.” Here, we meet a teenage boy in his room, talking about the warning signs of a potential school shooter–until the camera pans out for the reveal. It’s a powerful spot. But as he’s questioning why the people around him hadn’t said anything about the bullying, the obsession with guns, or threatening posts on Instagram, it raises an even bigger question of how this kid managed to build that hamster nest of automatic weapons on his bed?

And that’s the rub. Of course Sandy Hook Promise’s new Say Something Anonymous Reporting System is a very positive tool. The organization has trained millions of students, teachers, school officials, and parents in all 50 states in at least one of its programs around recognizing and reporting the signs of potential danger. And yet, when it comes to the Parkland school shooting, someone did report suspicious behavior.

Back in 2016, BBDO New York creative director Peter Alsante told me, “We focus on people and mental health, as opposed to guns themselves. It invites everyone to be a part of this conversation, regardless of what side of the aisle you’re on politically.”

That was two years ago. And watching the way the Parkland students have been speaking out, the groundswell of support around National School Walkout Day, and the upcoming March For Our Lives this weekend, it just feels like the time for putting the primary emphasis on mental health has passed, in favor of having a very real discussion of how easy and often an AR-15 gets in the hands of those with the mental health issues.

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About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.

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