Fred Guttenberg (author of Find the Helpers) comments on the “Not Coming Home” PSA, further advocating the need for gun safety awareness.
NEWTOWN – You think you know what you’re watching the moment the homecoming soldier in camouflage fatigues is caught on a cell-phone video, right up to the scene where he approaches a woman at the dining room table, listening to a home movie on a laptop.
But suddenly it’s clear this is not the homecoming it’s supposed to be, and when the woman shrieks with inconsolable wailing that can only mean one thing, it’s too late to click away, and the viewer is caught reacting to an scene no one wants to see.
“When (we) watched this for the first time, we all cried,” said Po Murray, chairwoman of the homegrown nonprofit Newtown Action Alliance, about the group’s debut PSA entitled “Not Coming Home.” “But we felt it was important for Americans to see the true reality of the impact of gun violence in our country every day.”
Hosts of a CNN morning news show agreed.
“The people in that video are actors but the grief that they show is far from fantasy,” said John Berman, co-host of “New Day,” which aired the Newtown Action Alliance PSA on Friday. “It’s both chilling and gut-wrenching.”
The nonprofit’s hope is to convert views into petition signatures to pressure senators to pass a bill requiring background checks for internet and gun show firearms sales.
The Newtown Action Alliance’s PSA aims to change that, Murray said.
“It is very difficult to watch but it’s an important message because mothers are grieving in every corner of this country because of gun violence,” Murray said. “We need Americans to demand more from their senators.”
The 90-minute video, conceived and produced without charge to NAA by the Munich-based advertising giant, Serviceplan Group, follows the release of three PSAs by another homegrown nonprofit founded after the 2012 massacre of 26 first-graders and educators at Sandy Hook School.
The trio of PSAs released in mid-May by Sandy Hook Promise conveys the emotional charge of ticking bombs about the “powder keg of turmoil threatening the lives” of school-aged youth.
Sandy Hook Promise has become known for its provocative PSAs, which have juxtaposed a school shooting with a back-to-school commercial, and satirized cultural complacency about school shootings.
The Newtown Action Alliance PSA borrows a page from Sandy Hook Promise’s book by transforming a soldier’s homecoming into a gruesome scene of unrelenting grieving.
“Are they in there?” The soldier says to the camera.
“Everybody’s waiting except for Annie,” the cameraman says.
As the song “I’m Coming Home” kicks in and the soldier shows trepidation about going in, the viewer sees the family seated and waiting for the soldier to approach a young woman with her back to the room.
When the soldier places his hands on her shoulders, she breaks down inconsolable wailing, and the viewers sees what she’s been watching – a video of the little girl in fairy’s wings, reading a book
As the soldier closes the laptop cover the viewer sees a memorial display of candles, the girl’s portrait, and a little stuffed giraffe. Over the fading scene comes the text:
“To date, more Americans have died from gun violence than in all U.S. wars combined.”
The statement was fact-checked by The Washington Post and PolitiFact, with caveats.
Fred Guttenberg, a Newtown Action Alliance board adviser and the father of a Florida teen slain in a 2018 Florida high school mass shooting, released a statement with the “Not Coming Home” PSA on Friday.
“I remember pulling off to the side of the road and telling my wife that our daughter was murdered. This film brought me back to that moment,” Guttenberg said. “Every American should watch this film to understand that we are at a war in America, and it’s against the epidemic of gun violence killing our children and the ones we love.”
What 9/11 and Parkland Taught Me About Recovery, Purpose, and Hope
Life changed forever on Valentine’s Day 2018. What was to be a family day celebrating love turned into a nightmare. Thirty-four people were shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Jaime Guttenberg, a fourteen-year-old with a huge heart, was the second to last victim. That she and so many of her fellow students were struck down in cold blood galvanized many to action, including Jaime’s father Fred who has become an activist dedicated to passing common sense gun safety legislation.
Fred was already struggling with deep personal loss. Four months earlier his brother Michael died of 9/11 induced pancreatic cancer. He had been exposed to so much dust and chemicals at Ground Zero, the damage caught up with him. Michael battled heroically for nearly five years and then died at age fifty.