Gun violence is becoming an all-too-frequent reality in American schools. This year, the U.S. will surpass 240 school shootings, according to the K-12 School Shooting Database.
To alert people to the reality of shootings, Sandy Hook Promise is launching “Just Joking,” its latest PSA to underscore how critical it is to take threats seriously.
Sandy Hook Promise partnered with BBDO New York to create the work.
The spot features various comedians — including Billy Eichner, Wanda Sykes, Margaret Cho, Jay Pharoah, Roy Wood Jr., Caitlin Reilly, David Cross, Iliza Shlesinger and Rachel Bloom — to relay a serious message: If you see warning signs of violence, say something.
The audience thinks the comics are performing a stand-up routine — until the laugh lines are revealed as real threats made by shooters nationwide, including the shooter at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, who said “I’m going to shoot up an elementary school right now,” and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooter in Parkland, Florida, who said “I want to kill people.”
Sandy Hook Promise, co-founded by Nicole Hockley, whose son was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy, said: “Even if it seems small — or like a joke — recognizing and reporting a potential threat of violence can have massive, life-saving impact.”
The nonprofit organization has developed a comprehensive approach to prevent gun violence, focusing on community-based education and empowerment. Its Know the Signs programshave been implemented in more than 26,000 schools across the country.
“We know that school shooters display warning signs before they carry out their plans. But too often we come up with excuses not to get involved,” said Gary Toit and Lance Vining, creative directors, BBDO New York. “We tell ourselves that it’s ‘probably nothing’ or the person who displayed the signs was probably ‘just joking.’ We hope to convince people that it’s up to all of us not only to learn the warning signs, but to act on them when we see them.”