Five years ago, 20 children and six staff members were killed in a violent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. But as Dec. 14 marks exactly five years since the shooting occurred, anti-gun violence activists are pledging to remember. On Monday, activist group Sandy Hook Promise shared a video PSA that is a dark reminder of what a tragedy like this is like.
Sandy Hook Promise is a group of activists and family members of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. Their mission statement says that they aim to "build a national movement of parents, schools and community organizations [are] engaged and empowered to deliver gun violence prevention programs and mobilize for the passage of sensible state and national policy."
To prevent mass shootings in the United States, the organization details four major objectives. According to the website, it aims to increase nationwide acknowledgement of gun violence and empower volunteers to help organize efforts in their communities. There are also mental health initiatives and advocacy for smarter gun laws at the federal level.
At the heart of the Sandy Hook Promise is, well, a promise. The pledge reads, "I promise to do all I can to protect children from gun violence by encouraging and supporting solutions that create safer, healthier homes, schools and communities." At this moment, the organization says more than 1.5 million people have pledged to keep the Sandy Hook Promise alive.
Sandy Hook Promise's PSA that it released Monday is short and to the point. Encompassing only one minute and 25 seconds, "Tomorrow's News" is a mock news segment after an instance of gun violence, including interviews with teachers, parents, and students. If you mute the video, it looks like an everyday news segment about a mass shooting.
An anchor stands in front of the camera and says, "I'm here at the scene of tomorrow's shooting where a 15-year-old will kill four children, two adults, and then turn the gun on himself," she says.
After reading the headline "Student To Carry Out Shooting Tomorrow," it becomes clear the PSA used the style of a news broadcast to send a much more chilling message: There were signs. The ultimate lesson behind the PSA is that people overlooked red flags that could've prevented the shootout.
The PSA covers "missed signs" from teachers, class fellows, and witnesses. One of the witnesses tells the anchors that when the shooting "will" happen, she will assume that it's merely firecrackers going off. The scene changes, and a classmate of the shooter tells how the attacker would talk about wanting to use a gun "in his closet" while expressing the desire to get even with his bullies. "Tomorrow I'll probably say that I wish I told someone," he says.
Bullies, too, talk to the anchor in the PSA and express remorse for being vicious to the attacker but says they'll continue to pick on him "because he's pretty weird." A teacher and a police officer express similar thoughts about witnessing alarming signs such as peculiar social media posts and strange behavior from the beginning of the school year.
The last witness is a mother. The anchor asks her what she aims to tell her little daughter about the shooting. "Actually I won't get to explain it to her because she won't make it," the mother says. Wrapping up the PSA, the anchor then faces the camera, "This is Christine Lin. Reporting from the scene of another shooting we'll say we never saw coming."
This isn't the first PSA from Sandy Hook Promise, which released "Say Something" in October last year. In January, the organization shared another sober video titled "Evan" with a similar message: People missed the signs and became victims of a mass shooting.
With their PSA out, Sandy Hook Promise gives Americans a vital reminder to keep an eye and ear open for alarming signs of a possible shooting plan. And it comes at a critical moment in America. In 2017 alone, research indicates hundreds of mass shootings have taken place.