On December 14, 2012 there was a horrific shooting at Sandy Hook elementary.
The tragedy has since continued to fuel the conversation on gun control versus gun rights. There are two obvious extremes to the debate – all access versus no access at all – though many fall in the more moderate areas. However, even the definition of ‘moderation’ is highly contested.
Data from the Pew Research Center shows that most Americans, Trump and Clinton supporters alike, generally support policies such as, requiring background checks, preventing people with mental illness from owning a gun, and creating a database to track gun sales. All of these policies fall between those two extremes, imposing regulation while maintaining freedom to own and operate a gun.
There is one thing that both sides feel the same about, and that is improving detection of warning signs. Whether that is done from social media or by picking up on any mental health problems a potential shooter might have, everyone wants to keep guns out of the wrong hands.
This past Friday, December 2nd, just over two weeks before the fourth anniversary of the shooting, the Sandy Hook victims’ parents released a PSA on the topic of ‘at-risk behavior’. The video is a part of the Know the Signs campaign from a group called Sandy Hook Promise, which aims to, “honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation by providing programs and practices that protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss of life.”
The video begins lightheartedly, by telling the story of a lonely boy named Evan. He finds anonymous friendship in the strangest of places. Just as he finds his mysterious friend, a shooter breaks into the gym and chaos ensues.
The PSA continues on, retracing its steps, highlighting the subtle signs of another student who is lost in the background. The child is troubled and clearly shows signs of malicious intent. However, just like in real life, hindsight is always 20-20.
The powerful video highlights the fact that no matter where you stand on gun control, these tragic and horrific shootings end such innocent lives with so much to look forward to.
This campaign came on the same day a teenage would-be shooter was disarmed in Utah. Parents noticed their son “acting strangely in the morning and realized he had taken the family’s shotgun and handgun.” They then drove to the school and disarmed him, after the boy fired one shot into the ceiling. Fortunately, because of the parents’ quick reaction to all of the red flags not a single person at that school was injured.
We need to work on recognizing signs sooner, acting on them faster, and finding ways to uproot their causes. Gun violence may be a tragedy that might always occur, but that shouldn’t mean we stop trying. We can find ways to minimize the frequency of such acts. One of these ways, which could and should be a bipartisan effort, is to improve on recognizing and acting on at-risk behavior.