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Campaign to Make Gun Violence a Public Health Issue

January 30, 2014

For several years following the return to a high murder rate in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, I have researched studies on preventing homicides by guns. I have quite a file of saved papers and I am designing a public health campaign to try to stop the murders at their source.  The pitch is a mix of exploring “the life of a gun”, the denial by the loved ones of the victims and shooters, and the concepts used in public health work on suicide prevention by recognizing the behavior signs. The idea is to produce TV ad shorts, 20 to 30 seconds, with the message of murder prevention by not harboring guns.


Example 1 – Stop that bullet. A gun fires; the flying bullet moves toward a victim then the bullet freezes just before a victims head. Try to imagine that the gun is a cocky cartoon character with a life of its own. Cartoon scenes flash to a clock and the gun’s “activity” during the last 24 hours—the gun walks into his home, he hides in a cozy place, maybe even fills up on some bullets from the pantry. Then he gets into a car that drives him around, he has a drink at the bar.   Next we see the crying relatives, just like the daily news, at a crime scene. Now freeze the scene. You can stop the bullet. Do not give a home to gun violence!


Example 2 – Begin with parts of the “life of the gun” cartoon– Free loading in your home. Going out late at night all dressed up, driving to the club. Coming home wasted and bullets spent! The noise wakes a sleeping parent from a dream. Her son is in a coffin! The parent takes action finding the gun’s location and evicting it. Go to the parent even calling the police to remove the gun. Maybe the son from the coffin is leaving handcuffed with the police. Shot of the coffin–Getting on the right track takes work, community support, and time but death lasts forever.


Example 3 – The gun cartoon is driving around town– speeding, running stop signs. The police pull the car over and we see a young black man. The police ask about guns and drugs and get a “no”. We see the gun cartoon laughing. If the police cannot search your child’s car then you must.


The TV shorts can be part of a series of public service ads that try to shock parents into being the first step in gun control. When we see news of murders every day, the shock goes away and so these ads need to have a sting. As with addictive codependence, there will be an offended group who want to stay in denial about their role. Soft selling the murder rate as some societal disease adds to denial and keeping guns free to kill.


I have many studies on file by request.


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