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Leading Hollywood directors, writers and producers sign a pledge about onscreen guns

TV writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, seen in 2019.
Dia Dipasupil
/
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TV writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, seen in 2019.

In the aftermath of the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y., a group of about 200 leading producers, directors and writers for movies and TV are pledging to revisit the use of guns in their storytelling, and to incorporate gun safety best practices into their scripts.

The open letter, which was initiated by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, has so far been signed by talents including Judd Apatow, Debbie Allen, Jimmy Kimmel, Bill Lawrence, Adam McKay, Shonda Rhimes, Mark Ruffalo and Amy Schumer, among many others.

In part, the letter reads:

"Guns are prominently featured in TV and movies in every corner of the globe, but only America has a gun violence epidemic. The responsibility lies with lax gun laws supported by those politicians more afraid of losing power than saving lives. We didn't cause the problem, but we want to help fix it.

"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.

"We are not asking anyone to stop showing guns on screen. We are asking writers, directors and producers to be mindful of on-screen gun violence and model gun safety best practices."

The pledge includes promises to show characters locking up their guns safely and making them inaccessible to children; "have at least one conversation during pre-production regarding the way guns will be portrayed on screen and consider alternatives that could be employed without sacrificing narrative integrity"; and limit scenes that combine children and guns, "bearing in mind that guns are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents" in the U.S.

The letter concludes: "We are under no illusions that these actions are a substitute for common sense gun legislation. Furthermore, this list does not incorporate every nuance of guns on screen. However, these are small things that we can do as a community to try and end this national nightmare."

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.