Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Anti-Gun PSA Angers People on Both Sides of the Issue

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An anti-gun PSA video posted on YouTube December 13 has gone viral. While video producers normally want to achieve viral status, in this case the response was overwhelmingly negative. In just 10 days, the video was viewed more than 320,000 times and was given the coveted "thumbs-up" only 138 times compared to more than 18,000 "thumbs-down" clicks. An overwhelming majority of the comments were negative, with many viewers pointing out that the video encouraged children to break the law and do something extremely dangerous.

The video shows a middle-school boy removing a handgun from his mother's dresser drawer and shoving it into his backpack before heading off to school with it. After sitting through class, the young boy waits as all the other students leave the classroom. Then he approaches his teacher's desk where he whips the gun out of his backpack and slams it down. Before the frightened teacher can say anything, the boy looks at her and says, "Can you take this away? I don't feel safe with a gun in my house." As the scene fades, the screen in filled with the words, "Our children deserve a safe world" and "Stop gun violence now."

Never mind that the child in the video would certainly be arrested for bringing a gun to school. Never mind that he endangered himself and everyone around him by carelessly handling the gun every step of the way. Never mind that if his mother needs to defend herself, she will run into her room and fling open a drawer to find nothing there but clothes as her attacker runs in behind her. Never mind that the boy will not actually be safer; he will simply feel safer.

As is common among portrayals by the anti-gun crowd, the video is not only unrealistic; it also contains several gun-handling errors that anyone who has any familiarity with guns would notice right away:

When the boy picks the gun up, he does so with his finger inside the trigger guard and on the trigger.

He never checks the action or removes the magazine, so he has no idea whether the gun is loaded or whether there is a round in the chamber.

He shoves the (presumably) loaded weapon into what appears to be a crowded backpack without a holster or case to prevent something in the bag from causing an accidental discharge.

When he removes the weapon from his backpack, he points it at the teacher as he puts it on her desk.

He, again, has his finger on the trigger.

He slams the gun down on the teacher's desk, again without any thought about whether the sudden shock could cause the weapon to inadvertently discharge.

The video was written by Rejina Sincic and produced by Sleeper13 Productions, which is "a collaborative Production company between Rejina Productions, Roy Wanguhu Productions and Posh Tea Productions," according to Rejina Sincic's LinkedIn page. That reference to the other production companies had been removed by Sincic, but appears to be back up now.

As the video has drawn fire from every front, it appears that everyone else involved in the film has decided to distance themselves from it and leave it to Sincic to deal with the backlash. Neither Posh Tea Productions, which is operated by Bethany Line, nor Roy Wanguhu Productions lists the video among their projects.

Roy Wanguhu declined to speak to The New American except to say, "You should contact Rejina. She was responsible for that." Bethany Line appears to have shut down her Twitter and Gmail accounts — which are the only forms of contacting her listed on her website. Sincic had not responded to a request from The New American to speak with us by the time this article was published.

North Oakland Community Charter School, where the PSA was filmed, has denied knowing the nature of the film and said they are revising their policy for vetting productions that will be allowed in the future.

Rejina Sincic, for her part, has defended the film and allegations that she was part of a "vast right-wing conspiracy" to defame the anti-gun position. According to a report by vocotiv.com, she said, "I'm not telling kids to commit felonies. 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." She does not explain how stealing a gun, handling it in an unsafe manner, and taking it to school help make kids safe. Answering the charges of Ladd Everitt, spokesman for The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, that she was hired by gun rights advocates to produce the PSA, Sincic said she used her own money to make the film because she is "passionate" about gun control. "This is what I believe in and I have the right to do so," she said. "If some people don't agree with me, that's fine. I just hope they won't do anything crazy." Presumably, the "something crazy" she is talking about would include the ill-conceived actions of the fearful boy in her video.

The original YouTube video was made private by Sincic for a couple days after the backlash, and could not be viewed except by invitation. Fortunately, the Internet resists that type of behavior. Other users have copied the video and reposted it to make it available for anyone to view. She has since re-posted it herself, though she disabled comments. So much for dialogue.

This is not the first PSA of its kind, and it will certainly not be the last. Anti-gun activists seem to enjoy making videos that are all feeling and no thought. They continue to ignore the data that show the violent crimes that are prevented each year by law-abiding gun owners. At least even most of them agree that this PSA misses the mark.

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