Know the Signs.
On December 14, 2012, the United States and then the rest of the world watched in horror as the news broke of yet another school shooting, only this time, it took place at a middle school, and the bulk of victims were six and seven years old.
Sadly, over the past 20 years, school shootings and mass shootings had become commonplace in American news. And these are only the stories with enough victims to make the story—disturbingly—worthwhile for national headlines. In 2016 alone, there have been hundreds of mass shootings that you probably didn’t even hear about unless you lived close to the site or knew somebody involved.
For most people, the immediate reaction to news of a mass or school shooting is sadness and anger. Why the senseless killing? Could we have stopped it? For others, it’s pure disgust. How did it get to this? What about all those lives cut short? Yet for some, it’s indifference. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again. Our gun culture so divides us as a country that these episodes first unite us in grief and then polarize us in policies and freedoms.
Taking away guns or limiting their prevalence will prevent mass shooting episodes in the future. Handing everybody a gun will enable us to proactively stop would-be mass shooters. This never would have happened in the first place if the shooter hadn’t had access to a gun. I could have stopped that if I had my gun on me. The arguments go both ways, and often, one view insults or disgusts the other.
Perhaps the only way we can focus on the polemics of gun violence without first getting distracted by policy and logistics is to bring it down to the human level: understanding the pain, loss, and suffering. Now, parents of Sandy Hook victims are taking the first step to educate us all on the human side of gun violence, and how easily we can ignore the warning signs. This viral video knocked me off my feet, and I couldn’t only watch once.
Meet Evan, a typical high school student eagerly awaiting summer vacation and all its promises. Many if not all of us know this reality, what it was like to be young, finishing a school year, and looking forward to the freedoms and possibilities of a long break.
But for Evan, there’s something even more exciting happening: a potential and unlikely love interest has popped up through another classic school reality, desk writing and small graffiti (shame on Evan!).
Watch this pleasant love story unfold… and be prepared to expect the unexpected. There’s much more to this video than meets the eye.
Did you see any of that coming?
Much like the gorilla running through the basketball players in the classic psychology video revealing our own unconscious selective attention, this PSA shows two very different stories unraveling at the same time. Of course, most of us will have ignored the darker truth to focus instead on the young love we saw developing.
The Sandy Hook Promise
On December 14, 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza murdered 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, before taking his own life. Before going to the school, he shot and killed his mother at home. This marked the deadliest school shooting as well as the third-deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history.
Shortly after the shooting, parents, survivors, relatives, and friends formed Sandy Hook Promise (SHP), an organization comprised of two nonprofits. According to their mission, Sandy Hook Promise hopes “to prevent gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide and accidental discharge […] by educating and empowering parents, schools and communities on mental health & wellness programs that identify, intervene and help at-risk individuals and gun safety practices that ensure that firearms are kept safe and secure,” as well as “to enact sensible gun violence prevention laws, policy and regulations at a state and federal level, in the areas of mental health & wellness and gun safety that result in the reduction of gun-related death and injury.”
Their latest viral campaign? Teaching others to recognize the warning signs of gun violence. Keep reading!