Depiction Suggestions

The following points for consideration were created as a resource for entertainment development and production. They are not intended to limit the creative process.

  • Attempt to highlight alternative resolutions to conflict rather than relying on gunplay as the only or automatic means of settling confrontations. Clashes can be resolved by other less lethal means, perhaps by characters using their wits and cunning to overcome opponents.
  • Consider highlighting the emotional consequences for the shooter, such as feelings of guilt, remorse, personal angst, and so on.
  • Consider incorporating such real-life scenarios as:
    • The shooter or possessor of a gun being accidently injured by it.
    • A gun accidentally misfiring while being loaded or unloaded by a criminal or other user.
    • A gun misfiring and injuring someone after being accidentally dropped.
  • Consider the story potential that may exist in a family filing suit against a gun manufacturer for injuries or death sustained by a defective firearm that misfired.
  • Try emphasizing the fact that introducing a gun into an argument lethalizes anger: What could have been resolved with just harsh words, or even cuts and bruises, may end up with a death. Guns don’t allow for cooling off or reconciling once the momentary or situational anger subsides.
  • Consider reflecting the reality that homeowners often freeze up or tremble so badly when trying to use a gun in self-defense that they are unable to deploy it. Or show them as being too frozen in fear to even get the gun.
  • Where appropriate to the story, consider portraying a teenage girl threatening to break up with her boyfriend unless he gets rid of his gun – or a boy doing the same with a gun-owning girlfriend.
  • Explore depiction of legal prosecution or civil action taken against parents for negligently leaving a gun available to a child who then uses it to either intentionally or unintentionally harm themselves or others.
  • Attempt to provide a positive role model by showing parents making gun safety inquiries of other households where children visit, asking about storage, accessibility, and so on.
  • Consider depicting the reality that women are far more likely to be shot by husbands or lovers than by an intruder. Odds are that a gun in her home will be used against her rather than in her defense.
  • Consider showing bartenders or bar owners being prosecuted or held civilly liable for gun injuries caused by a drunken patron who is known by them to carry a weapon (akin to the prosecution of bar owners for traffic deaths caused by drunk drivers).
  • When appropriate, incorporate parents having heart-to-heart talks with their children, especially teenagers, about guns not being an acceptable resolution to the problems they face with schoolyard bullies or anything else.
  • Emphasize, where possible, the legal penalties invoked against “straw purchasers” who act as intermediaries between gun dealers and persons who are legally restricted from buying guns themselves.
  • Consider showing someone who is attempting to use a gun in self-defense being overpowered by the attacker who then uses the gun against him or her.
  • Attempt to show safe ways school kids can tip off the police or school authorities that a fellow student has a gun, and show that this action can bring about a positive outcome.
  • Consider showing that even so-called “toy” guns, like pellet or BB guns or prop guns, can cause real injuries and even death.
  • Give thought to starting the story after any gun violence has already occurred, and confine the plot line to the aftermath – detection, prosecution, coping of survivors, and so on.
  • Consider occasionally having “junk” guns misfiring or jamming at critical times, as these guns are prone to do so after a period of use.
  • Consider depicting people as feeling less safe, rather than more safe, when they find their neighbors becoming increasingly armed.
  • Try incorporating statistics on gun usage into scripts by having appropriate characters, like law enforcement personnel, DA’s and teachers cite them. For instance most people don’t know that guns are more often used for suicide than homicide. (54% of gun deaths were suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1999)<.li>
  • Consider highlighting the fact that teenagers often act impulsively and the presense of guns may increase the likelihood that a transient emotion may turn into a fatal event.
  • Consider having characters criminally charged for simply brandishing a firearm.
  • Try to emphasize that offenders get stiffer sentences if they use a gun in the commission of their crimes.
  • Consider pointing out the inadvertant injuries caused by bullets shot into the air by holiday celebrants. What goes up must come down, sometimes with lethal force.
  • If appropriate to the story, consider exploring a gun dealer’s or a gun supplier’s remorse about the harm done by someone to whom he or she furnished a firearm.
  • Consider having a character use a gun in what he/she believes is self-defense only to be charged with murder or manslaughter because it’s determined that excessive or unjustified lethal force was deployed.
  • Consider having characters successfully use alternatives to guns for self-defense, such as pepper spray or mace.
  • When appropriate, try to depict parents, teachers, counselors, and even peers giving advice to young people about alternate forms of conflict resolution.
  • Try to provide role modeling behavior by showing friends trying to dissuade a character from arming him/herself after the gun death of a friend or family member.
  • Consider portraying a gun manufacturer making the right decisions in choosing to design a safer firearm.
  • Try making the point that having guns in the house may actually increase the possibility of home invasion robbery since firearms are an attractive target for theft.
  • Consider having characters successfully use alternatives to guns for self-defense, such as pepper spray or mace.
  • Consider showing a parent chastising his or her spouse for leaving a gun where their children can find it.

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