Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy group formed in the wake of the 2012 shooting, has released a back-to-school PSA. Watch it before you read the rest of this article.


The video made waves after its release on Wednesday due to the chilling message. The ad features kids showing off their new back-to-school essentials like a typical advertisement around this time of year. Things take a turn when the kids start using objects to protect themselves from a possible school shooter, or to dress the wounds of their injured classmates. One scene even depicts a girl showing off her new phone, which she is using to send what is presumably her last "I love you" to her mother while crouching on a toilet seat and sobbing.

The ad is graphic and disturbing, almost nightmarish, but it is a necessary shock to the system.

School shootings have become an inevitable aspect of American life in the past two decades. The shootings at Columbine (where 13 were killed), Sandy Hook (where 27 were killed), and Marjory Stoneman Douglas (where 17 were killed) remain as permanent stains on American history, yet, there has been almost no action on gun control by Congress in recent history. Ads like this capture the nightmare scenario that haunts everyone involved with the American education system, and should haunt every American who wants school shootings to end.

Yes, it is violent and distressing, but that is the reality of school shootings.

The ad is supposed to make your stomach tie into knots and bring tears to your eyes — that's how you should feel about the fact innocent children are dying. It is the goal of Sandy Hook Promise to not allow the people who perished in the tragic shooting to die in vain. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, since the Sandy Hook shooting, 182 Americans have been killed on school grounds as a result of gun violence. This ad is one of the many ways that Sandy Hook Promise can accomplish that goal, and help prevent other innocent children from losing their lives in shootings that could be preventable.

This is not the future we want for American children.

No child should have to go to school wondering if they will make it home alive at the end of the day. The culture in the American school system is one pervaded by a sense of fear. Lockdowns, active shooter drills, and evacuations serve as constant reminders of the terrifying possibilities of what could happen within school walls. Now, children are sent through metal detectors and forced to wear clear or bulletproof backpacks. Students make note of exit routes and hiding places because they never know when a normal school day could turn into one that will haunt them for the rest of their life. This is not an environment suitable for any child's education.

If PSAs like this are what it takes to raise public awareness about gun violence, then bring on the graphic ads.