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17 Oct 2019 19:01
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  •   Home > News > International

    Sandy Hook Promise foundation releases ad about school shootings as US school year starts

    A foundation that was started by the parents of two victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre creates an ad to mark the start of the US school year, showing recreated scenes of a school shooting.

    A graphic public service announcement has marked the start of back-to-school season in the United States with a stark reminder about the prevalence and horror of school shootings.

    In 2012, 26 people, including 20 children aged between six and seven, were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    The Sandy Hook Promise foundation was started by the parents of some of the victims, and now, seven years on, the foundation has released an advertisement that starts as a typical ad about school supplies, but quickly morphs into a PSA about school shootings.

    The ad starts with two students talking about a new bag and binders they have for the start of the school year — fitting for the accompanying tweet that reads "Survive the school year with these must-have #BackToSchool essentials".

    A third child is sitting in a library, talking about his new headphones when people start running out of the room.

    The next shot shows a boy running through the halls.

    "These new sneakers are just what I need for the new year," he says to camera, as gun shots are heard and people start panicking behind him.

    A girl ties a door shut while telling the audience "this jacket is a real must-have", before another student shows off his new skateboard, smashing a window with it, and allowing other students to run away.

    A boy and a girl are seen hiding in a dark classroom with scissors and pencils that "come in handy in art class" held like self-defence weapons.

    The most graphic shot of the minute-long video shows two students sitting behind a wall, one of whom is clutching at a bloody leg.

    "These new socks, they can be a real lifesaver," the other says as she uses one as a tourniquet on the other student's thigh.

    The final shot of the ad shows a girl hiding in a toilet cubicle, crying as she texts "I love you mom".

    "And I finally got my own phone to stay in touch with my mum," she says, before the bathroom door is heard opening and footsteps come into the room.

    The ad ends with a message that "school shootings are preventable when you know the signs", echoing the foundation's mission "to create a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence, and other harmful acts in schools".

    Brother of victim says ad should not have been made

    Unsurprisingly with a topic as divisive as gun safety is in the US, the response to the ad has been mixed across the millions of people who have watched it on Twitter, Instagram and/or YouTube.

    Democratic presidential contenders Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren tweeted their support of the ad and its message

    "Years have passed, yet the only thing Washington politicians do consistently is fail to deliver," Mr Buttigieg wrote.

    "We owe it to our children to give them back their childhoods. We need leaders ready to deliver that change now."

    While Ms Warren said: "Our children shouldn't have to live like this. If we want to end the gun violence epidemic, we need to make big, structural change."

    But others were less impressed.

    JT Lewis, whose six-year-old brother Jesse died in the Sandy Hook shooting and who is now running for the state Senate seat that encompasses Newtown, said the ad was irresponsible.

    "Sandy Hook Promise should NOT use graphic images of a school shooting to get PR attention. Remember, that's how the media creates copycat shooters!" he wrote on Twitter.

    "Having lost a brother in the Sandy Hook shooting, I want it to be clear that the 'Sandy Hook Promise' doesn't speak for me!" he added.

    "The organization is run by 2 families of victims, but most of us stay far away. They don't make that clear. We had to write a joint statement at one point."

    The shooting became one of the biggest flashpoints for the conversation around gun control and gun safety in the US, bringing then-president Barack Obama to tears during a press conference.

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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