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Powerful Sandy Hook Promise PSA makes gun violence personal

The clues to the dark twist in this gun violence PSA from Sandy Hook Promise are hidden in plain sight.
/ Source: TODAY

Any fan of mystery or crime fiction knows the most important clues are almost always hidden in plain sight.

A powerful new PSA from Sandy Hook Promise applies this storytelling style to the halls of an everyday high school.

The short film, titled "Evan," about seeing the warning signs of potential gun violence by teens, has already gathered over a million views.

At the beginning, we see a potential romance unfolding between two awkward teens, who write flirty messages on a library desk without knowing who is responding. While that's unfolding, another student in the background researches weaponry online, exudes hostile body language and makes threatening posts to social media, but no one notices.

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Just when the teen named Evan meets the girl he had been trading messages with in the library, a door opens and the other teen enters with an assault rifle, sending students fleeing.

Sandy Hook Promise is an organization created by family members affected by the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adult staff members. The organization aims to prevent gun-related deaths through educational and mental health programs as well as advocating for the passage of gun safety laws.

The video has been lauded for forcing viewers to experience firsthand how easy it is to become wrapped up in drama and ignore a struggling person — and a potentially dangerous situation.

As an article from Forbes pointed out, the double entendre in the video's song lyrics also drives home the idea that there are two sides to every story. "When Johnny met June" could refer to a budding romance, or to a lonely boy biding his time until the end of the school year.

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It's a sad but important message, and we commend the organization on their work and hope others will continue to share this powerful story.