In the United States, a harrowing television spot was launched back to school about the horrors of mass shootings in American classrooms.
Sandy Hook Promise's public service announcement, a group for the defense of arms security, became immediately viral with millions of views on social media within hours of its release Wednesday. Many viewers described it as the "most powerful thing" they had ever seen, while others claimed it was "hard to watch" and "too graphic". Despite conflicting opinions, the video "back to school essentials" and #sandyhookpromise soon became popular on Twitter.
The ad cheerfully starts with a guy who admires his new backpack.
But the narration quickly darkens, with other students using everyday objects – including pencils and scissors like knives – to survive a shootout while the sounds of screams and gunshots resound in the background.
"These new sneakers are just what I needed for the new year," says a boy as he runs through a corridor.
"These new socks can be a real panacea," says a girl, taking off her knee-high socks to use as a tourniquet on another student's bloodied leg.
In one scene, a boy uses his skateboard to break a window in a desperate attempt to escape the shot.
As the harrowing end approaches, a little girl crouches in a bathroom cubicle and writes a loving text to her mother on a sparkling pink telephone. Tears run down her face.
"I finally got my phone to keep in touch with my mom," he says.
The girl closes her eyes to the sound of a door opening and the steps are approaching before the scene turns black.
"He's back at school. And you know what it means," reads the white text that appears on the screen.
Sandy Hook Promise was created after filming at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012. Twenty-six people, including 20 children, were killed in the massacre. The latest advertisement is part of the "Know the Signs" campaign of the organization that aims to warn students, teachers and parents about the signs that someone is planning a shootout. According to the group, eight children die due to armed violence in the United States and another 32 are killed and injured every day.
Nicole Hockley, a former marketing consultant who co-founded Sandy Hook Promise after her six-year-old son Dylan died in the Newtown shooting said that "gun violence and school shootings are not easy subjects, and should not be fun watch ".
"The more we distance ourselves from reality, the less respect we are giving to those who must survive this," he said.
Hockey told USA Today that "we must force ourselves to tackle this problem and do something about it".
The advertisement was released a week after the Congress, after a six-week break. Politicians have struggled to fight armed violence despite filming Sandy Hook reigniting a heated US arms debate.
Other mass tragedies followed the tragedy of 2012, including a church in South Carolina, a music festival in Las Vegas and a high school in Florida.
This year, the shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas – included in a Walmart – saw dozens of innocent lives lost.
In the 20 days following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, the National Rifle Association doubled its digital advertising expenses compared to the same period before the attacks, to over $ 21,000 a day by $ 10,000, according to Pathmatics, which analyzes digital data advertising. One day, the trade group spent more than $ 38,000, according to New York Times.
But even the groups opposing the arms lobby have begun to intensify their marketing activities. Everytown for Gun Safety, an organization funded in part by former mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York, has recently committed to spending at least $ 2.5 million on supporting Virginia's arms control policies before next year's elections.
Since then Walmart Inc. and other stores have urged customers not to openly carry firearms in their stores, prompting protests from opponents who oppose containing weapons rights.
The House of Representatives of the United States, led by the Democrats, has taken measures to combat armed violence when politicians returned to Washington this week. These include three bills that seek to remove guns from people believed to be at risk, ban high-capacity ammunition magazines and prohibit people convicted of violent hate crime for owning firearms.
The Senate, led by the Republican comrades of President Donald Trump, has so far remained aloof, with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell seeking guidance at the White House.
More than 100 CEOs of some of the most famous American companies have urged the US Senate to take action to combat armed violence, including the expansion of controls over precedents and the strengthening of so-called red flag laws. In a letter to politicians, 145 heads of companies solicited a significant action following a series of mass shootings in the United States. "Doing nothing for the American crisis of armed violence is simply unacceptable and it is time to oppose the American public on gun safety," the Republican-led letter to the US Senate said, according to New York Times, which first reported the correspondence.
Among the signatories of the letter are the heads of Gap Inc, Levi Strauss & Co and Sporting Goods Inc. of Dick, including Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, Uber Technologies Inc, Twitter Inc. and Amalgamated Bank, among others. "We write to you because we have the responsibility and obligation to defend the safety of our employees, customers and all Americans in the communities we serve throughout the country," they said, according to the Times.