Sandy Hook Promise Releases Controversial PSA


Celeste Gessner, Staff Writer

Sandy Hook Promise, a national nonprofit organization based in Connecticut and led by people who lost family members from the infamous shooting, released a controversial public service announcement. 

The video starts out like any other commercial, but then the scene turns dark showing young kids using school supplies to defend themselves from an active shooter.

         The video created a range of reactions among different people, some of whom have been directly affected by the shooting. Some people felt like it was powerful and meaningful, while others were turned off because they said the video was too graphic.

Elizabeth Burback, professor of public relations and marketing, thought that while it was powerful the PSA was missing its intended audience.

“According to the parent group that created the ad, the target market is teachers and students,” she said. “I’d argue this ad is better at keeping the issue of gun violence top of mind than it is at educating teachers and students to recognize behavior that could be an indication of the propensity for violence in a student.” 

While the target audience is supposed to educate teachers and students on the signs of an active school shooter, it doesn’t show the actual signs. But when looking on the Sandy Hook Promise website, it tells some signs for an active shooter. One sign is to listen to any potential threats. About 80% of school shooters told someone about their plan of violence before taking action. 

Iman Elmardi, a senior psychology child-life major, said the PSA won’t be as effective to those without children.

“I feel like people’s reactions won’t change to school shootings unless they have a child,” Elmardi said. “This ad is gonna affect parents more than anything. I know if I had a six-year old going to school and I saw that commercial I’d be concerned about sending my kid to school.”

Shanna Duffy, a senior studying cybersecurity, agreed that the video was effective but was doubtful as to how long the effectiveness of it will last.

“I’d like to think that this PSA will bring this issue more awareness but I feel like we’ve had so many mass shootings in general and the fact that all these people have died and that has not made a difference,” Duffy said. “I don’t know how impactful one commercial will be. I feel like it’s become the norm. Four people died from the Juul and we banned them in New York State but how many people have died in the past year or two from a shooting and nothing has changed?”

Did the PSA miss the targeted audience, or does it have the potential to successfully educate people to make a difference in cutting back active shooter deaths in the United States? Some controversy came about as if the PSA missed the targeted audience, while some might think it did a good job with educating people about school shootings.

“I don’t know how impactful one commercial will be,” Duffy said. “I feel like it’s become the norm. Four people died from the Juul and we banned them in New York State but how many people have died in the past year or two from a shooting and nothing has changed?” 

Junior Evelyn Barragan found the film sad and scary to watch, especially when thinking about her younger siblings going to school. She shares the same concerns as Shanna.

“Honestly, I hope it brings light to the issue of gun violence, but it probably won’t,” she said.  “How many school shootings have we had and nothing has been done?” 

Sandy Hook Promise made a powerful PSA about the shooting, but one that has aroused mixed emotions about it. The purpose of the dark and violent film was to shed light on the deadly threat of active shooters in the United States. Will the PSA serve its purpose to get people thinking about how to solve the issue of mass shootings or will it soon be forgotten? 

“I feel like this PSA is just another thing that will be trending for two weeks and then stop,” Barragan said.