PSA Features Student Who Takes A Gun To School… To Turn It In To The Teacher

The message is gun control. Did you get it?

A filmmaker, Rejina Sincic, has faced harsh criticism for a gun control PSA that features a teenage boy who takes his family’s firearm to school and then turns it in to the teacher because he doesn’t feel safe with it in his home. There’s been so much backlash that Sincic pulled down the original post of the clip and reposted it with the comments disabled.

Clearly, Sincic’s goal was to shock viewers into paying attention, but there are some who say the video, presented without context, could have the opposite of its intended effect.

“..[I]t’s hard to get past the concern that kids, who often take things literally, might put themselves and classmates at risk of physical injury and perhaps legal consequences if they follow the example provided in this video,” writes the Christian Science Monitor. Furthermore, the outlet says, news of people being killed for carrying toy guns, like Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old who was shot by a police officer while carrying one in public, could make this video downright irresponsible.

“…[T]he reality is that children who carry a real handgun into a school, park, or onto public transportation may be subject to serious consequences no matter how lofty their reason,” the article continues. Moreover, the clip leaves the viewer with so many questions, CSM says — Why is this child scared? Did he talk to his parents about his fears? — that the message could get lost in all of this.

The film has also come under intense scrutiny by conservatives and guns rights advocates who call it “liberal propaganda” and the filmmaker things like “Satan” and “bitch,” because it’s always productive, reasonable and sensible to conduct a conversation about an important topic with insults and sexism. Sigh. Though it should be noted that gun control supporters have not exactly been behind the video either.

“To me, this reeks of something that’s been planted,” said Ladd Everitt, comms director for The Coalition Against Gun Violence. “It’s shocking how this suddenly went viral on right wing media when no one in our movement is promoting this video.”

The clip is being called a PSA, but there’s no word that it was supported by any organization. Sincic says she paid for it herself.

“My message is that kids should not have access to guns in their house. Kids should feel safe and their schools should be safe zones. I made this video for that purpose,” Sincic said in an interview with the website Vocativ.

It’s more evidence that speakers (or communicators or filmmakers) need to be thoughtful and clear about the messages they wish to convey. Sincic’s heart is in the right place, but her message is muddled by a desire to be more provocative than persuasive or informative.