There have already been 245 incidents of gun violence in American schools this year, and there’s no reason to think that number is slowing down. In fact, studies show that kids’ gun deaths are actually on the rise in the U.S. While that’s heartbreaking and enraging to any parent, the idea that this problem continues to get worse must be particularly devastating for parents of the children who were killed at Sandy Hook nearly 11 years ago. Today, Sandy Hook Promise — an organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed that day — released a powerful PSA called “Just Joking” to promote their new “know the signs” campaign.
In the engrossing two-minute PSA, comedians perform what seems to be a stand-up routine in front of an audience that’s often laughing nervously at first and then silent as the comedians share the exact, real threats made by real school shooters to audiences who think they’re hearing the set-up for a joke. Phrases like “I’m going to shoot up an elementary school right now,” (delivered with perfect awkwardness by David Cross) and “some of you guys are alright, don’t come to school tomorrow” (shared by Caitlin Reilly) fall heavy on our ears and the audiences’, as we realize that the shooters who said them were very much not “just joking.”
Comedians Wanda Sykes, Billy Eichner, Jay Pharoh and more help Sandy Hook Promise deliver an urgent message in this new PSA about ‘knowing the signs’ to prevent school shootings.
“As the U.S. is on track to have its deadliest year yet, the urgency to protect our children from gun violence is stronger than ever,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and CEO of Sandy Hook Promise, and mother of Dylan, who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012.
According to Sandy Hook Promise’s data, 80% of school shooters tell someone before they go forward with their tragic plans, which is why this campaign focuses so heavily on encouraging families to learn how to know the warning signs, as well as the importance of taking preventative actions in order to protect children from gun violence.
“Even if it seems small — or like a joke — recognizing and reporting a potential threat of violence can have massive, life-saving impact,” Hockley urges. “We can all do more to learn about the warning signs of violence and take action immediately when we see them.”