For anyone who watches "Grey's Anatomy" or any Shonda Rhimes show in general, it is well known that the writers often use their scripts as a tool for making a socio-political statement. These issues vary from women's rights, racial equality, LGBTQ rights and coming out, sexual assault and, most recently, gun rights. The topics are tackled head-on and the show is not subtle in its presentation of problematic behavior encountered in our society, nor does it shy away from offering appropriate and patient ways to handle it.
This most recent episode aired last Thursday and, without providing any spoilers, I will say that it dealt blatantly with the risks of keeping a gun at home as well as the potential consequences involving children. In a PSA sponsered by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence following the episode (linked at: http://www.bradycampaign.org/ASK), Grey's main actress Ellen Pompeo explains that every 24 hours, nine children are shot accidentally, most often with a parent's weapon. One in three homes with children have guns, many unlocked or loaded. Three in four children ages 5-14 know where firearms are kept in the home. Eighty percent of unintentional firearm deaths of kids under 15 occurs in a home.
The episode was, for me, mortifying and likely one of the few television episodes I will never forget.
The way "Grey's Anatomy" addressed such a hot-button issue was both intense and eloquent. It presented the subject matter openly by having characters strongly oppose keeping a gun at home, but was fair in presenting the other side with characters who have guns and believe they should be kept for safety.
"Grey's" is nothing but consistent in its appropriately cautious approach to socio-political problems, and does an incredible job representing both sides of an argument without making one side look ignorant of unfavorable while also managing to convey which side is preferred. I felt it handled the issue of transgender rights similarly well in 2015, where the show demonstrated the outrage and confusion a lot of individuals experience when meeting a transgender individual, or when a loved one comes out. But that particular episode also showed how speaking to someone about a loved one's transition should be handled with patience. The writers were brilliant in their respectful representation (something that happens so rarely for the trans community in media), and featured a character appropriately switching pronouns the moment she found out.
As is the logical conclusion to come to, the characters in the show each come to a resolve that guns should not be kept in the house; they can be used for safety, particularly if you live in an environment in which you feel insecure, but are not worth the potential risk of keeping them inside your home.
Of course, there has been plenty of backlash directed at the way "Grey's Anatomy" approached the issue of gun rights. Twitter users have expressed anger at the predominately (though not exclusively) anti-gun message. While I understand why people feel "Grey's" has overstepped certain boundaries, I have to say I support the overall message presented in this most recent episode, as well as in others. I respect Shonda Rhimes and the writers' fearless conquering of issues that need to be discussed. I love their shameless strive towards better representation of women and minority in the media, even if it is sometimes flawed.
Gun control is an issue we won't be solving anytime soon, but bringing forth awareness of the risks of keeping weapons in a setting within which children play is a concern people ought to be aware of. Even if you strongly believe that America's current gun regulations are enough, please be conscious of the environments and situations you bring your children into. Know the statistics. Be aware of the risks.