ORLANDO, Fla. – Back-to-school ads typically have a similar formula: smiling students sporting their new school supplies. Sandy Hook Promise followed the same formula, but with the addition of the chilling reality of school shootings.
The gun safety advocacy group released a commercial Wednesday that begins like any other back to school ad. A boy shows off his backpack from his locker and a girl displays colorful binders that help her stay organized. The commercial takes a dark turn as a smiling boy talks about his new sneakers that are "perfect for running" as gunfire goes off in the background. The boy frantically looks back, and when he turns around again, he's no longer smiling.
"Back-To-School Essentials" continues to show the grim details often described during a school shooting. A girl ties up the school's gym doors with a jacket, another hides in the corner by a classroom door with scissors in hand. The final scene takes a somber turn as a girl is huddled in a bathroom stall and types out an "I love you" text to her mother.
"I finally got my own phone to stay in touch with my mom," she said as she presses send. The sound of footsteps approaching accompany the stream of tears seen falling down her face.
[WATCH BELOW: "Back-To-School Essentials" commercial]
*Commercial may contain graphic content
Since the Columbine High School shooting in 1999, there have been at least 279 other fatal school shootings in the U.S., killing 472 people according to News 6 research.
News 6 has done extensive coverage on how Central Florida schools have changed their security policies since the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting.
Schools have now added active shooter drills to their security measures, added more school resource officers and some are requiring teachers and staff go through active shooter training. School shootings are now woven into the fabric that is Florida's educational system and the national conversation concerning gun rights and safety.
The Sandy Hook Promise public service announcement now joins the dialogue around mass shootings, an issue expected to be tackled by Congress during the legislative session.
The House Judiciary Committee is expected to discuss how to deal with military-style assault weapons during their hearing on Sept. 25.