After the latest spate of deadly mass shootings, Hollywood creators like J.J. Abrams, Mark Ruffalo, and Shonda Rhimes are asking their peers to reconsider how guns and gun violence are used in films and television shows.
A new open letter — shared by the Brady Campaign and signed by over 200 actors, directors, screenwriters, and producers — doesn’t call for a ban on guns or gun violence on screen. It’s also adamant about where the responsibility for the gun violence epidemic lies: “[L]ax gun laws supported by those politicians more afraid of losing power than saving lives.”
Instead, the letter suggests several ways movies and TV shows can be more mindful of how guns and gun violence are utilized, stating, “We didn’t cause the problem, but we want to help fix it.”
It continues: “As America’s storytellers, our goal is primarily to entertain, but we also acknowledge that stories have the power to effect change. Cultural attitudes toward smoking, drunk driving, seatbelts, and marriage equality have all evolved due in large part to movies’ and TV’s influence. It’s time to take on gun safety.”
The letter proffers three suggestions. The first is to creatively “model responsible gun ownership and show consequences for reckless gun use,” such as showing characters locking their guns safely and keeping them from children. The second is to hold pre-production discussions about the way guns are portrayed and “consider alternatives that could be employed without sacrificing narrative integrity.” The last is to, ”Limit scenes including children and guns, bearing in mind that guns are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents.”
Along with Abrams, Ruffalo, and Rhimes, the letter was signed by Jimmy Kimmel, Amy Schumer, Julianne Moore, and Judd Apatow. Other Hollywood figures are also being encouraged to sign the letter.