Mass shootings are preventable, an anti-gun violence group says in a video public service announcement, and it has released a guide on how to spot the warning signs, reports the Los Angeles Times. The video, produced by a nonprofit formed by families of victims of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, starts out by focusing on a red-haired teenager who is bored at school. It follows the teen, Evan, as he exchanges messages engraved on a library desk with a mystery girl. Just as the two finally meet at the school gymnasium, another teen armed with a rifle appears in the doorway, sending students fleeing. While you were watching Evan, another student was showing signs of planning a shooting,” text on the screen reads. “But no one noticed.” The video ends with the message that “Gun violence is preventable when you know the signs” and points viewers to a guide available on the Sandy Hook Promise website that lists red flags.
They include having an obsession with firearms, displaying excessively aggressive behavior, being bullied, and having unsupervised or easy access to firearms. The list is prefaced with the caveat that “one warning sign on its own does not mean that a person is planning an act of violence.” The video has attracted millions of views since it was released Friday. Timothy Makris of Sandy Hook Promise said the group consulted more than a dozen peer-reviewed research sources and experts to identify behaviors that mass shooters have commonly exhibited. Some experts caution that the video’s “troubled-kid” narrative is too simplistic. “Kids could be depressed, they could be bullied, they could be lonely. [But] 99.999% of them are not going to commit a school shooting — that in itself is not a warning sign,” said Peter Langman, a psychologist who runs the website SchoolShooters.info. “If that’s occurring along with other signs … each piece of the puzzle contributes to indicating that there’s a potential danger here.”