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G is for Gun The Arming of Teachers in America

Written, Produced, and Directed by: Kate Way and Julie Akeret

Edited by: Tricia Reidy

Interactive Website: www.gisforgunthefilm.com

Email: gisforgunthefilm@gmail.com

Premiere national broadcast: PBS WORLD Channel, Local USA - September 17, 2018

DOWNLOAD PRESS PHOTOS HERE

Synopsis

G is for Gun is a thirty-minute documentary film exploring the highly controversial trend of armed faculty and staff in K-12 schools. Only five years ago this practice was practically unheard of, but since the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, it has spread to as many as thirteen states. Often without public knowledge, there are teachers, administrators, custodians, nurses, and bus drivers carrying guns in America’s schools. G is for Gun documents a growing program in Ohio that is training school staff to respond to active shooter situations with guns, and follows the story of one Ohio community divided over arming its teachers.

Students in a first grade classroom, Sidney, OH

Overview

By all accounts, the brutal shooting of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in December of 2012 was a turning point in much of the national psyche. It galvanized both sides of the gun debate to take new action, and it changed the way schools thought about security and safety. The gun divide in the United States has ratcheted up further with each mass murder, and school security debates have reached a boiling point since the massacre in Parkland, Florida. While arguments over arming teachers are making their way into the mainstream, many schools around the nation have already moved forward with arming faculty and staff. Shockingly, no one official federal or state body has been keeping count of how many schools across the nation have armed staff, and in many communities, even the parents and the general public remained uninformed that this is happening.

G is for Gun: The Arming of Teachers in America is more than a project about building awareness; it is about empowering the public to make and participate in decisions affecting our schools, communities, and our larger society. The debate over the arming of public school employees is emblematic of many of the same political and cultural divides so pronounced in America today. Encompassing highly-charged and critical debates -- about gun legislation; the provision of robust social services; the shape and purpose of public education; issues of race, class, gender, and security; and the role of local, state, and federal powers in making change -- this issue reflects a multitude of social issues that divide us.

The film and accompanying interactive website help to make sense of the larger social, political, and historic contexts that have given rise to school shootings and to the growing response with arms. Often boiled down to arguments over “more guns” or “fewer guns,” the mainstream debate can sometimes obscure the larger social questions at the root of this violence and our response to it as a society. We hope that this project will provide a forum for dialogue about the deeper issues at stake in the arming of America's teachers.

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What People are Saying about G is for Gun

"G is for Gun is an amazing film for the conversations and critical questions it opens up about violence, guns, the assault on public education, and the history and politics of gun culture and violence in the US." -- Barbara Madeloni, President, Massachusetts Teachers Association.

"G is for Gun offers a remarkable glimpse into the controversial policy of arming teachers. The filmmakers have managed to encapsulate a complex issue in a visually rich and engaging documentary that ought to spark a more serious and thoughtful conversation about how to deal with school violence." -- Saul Cornell, Chair in American History, Fordham University.

"G is for Gun angered me. It terrified me. But it also gave me hope. The documentary portrays both sides of such a controversial issue and allows the voices from both sides to be heard...It is a must watch film for any parent or educator, of which I am both." -- Mike Conrad, Teacher, Royal Oak High School.

"...a sensitive look at a difficult issue." -- Peter Langman, Author, School Shooters: Understanding High School, College, and Adult Perpetrators and Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters.

"G is for Gun does a great service by balancing both sides of the controversy through the words and stories of those charged with the education and well-being of students." -- James Alan Fox, Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy, Northeastern University, Author, Violence and Security on Campus: From Preschool through College.

An armed officer outside of Sidney High School

About the Filmmakers

Kate Way is a photographer, filmmaker, and veteran educator whose work is largely concerned with public policy, education, and issues of social and economic justice. She holds a doctorate in Language, Literacy, and Culture and a M.F.A. in Photography, and and has taught and researched in schools and universities for the past twenty-five years. Her specific areas of expertise include critical media literacy, the politics of K-12 public education, and the social context of school security. Kate has worked with students and prospective teachers in the United States and abroad on the development of literacy skills across mediums, and on using photography, video, and audio production to promote social change. She has co-authored several articles published in academic journals, and has presented at conferences and public events around the country. Kate's own photography has received significant grant funding and has been exhibited widely in both solo and group shows. Her print and photojournalism on armed teachers was recently published in the New York Times and Mother Jones magazine.

Julie Akeret has worked in film and video for over thirty years. Much of her work has focused on education, social justice and the arts. Her first film, Not Just Garbage, a film about Mierle Ukeles, artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, premiered at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and won Best Documentary Short in the USA film Festival in 1986. Julie received a fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and grants from foundations such as the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, The Sister Fund and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts among others. In 2012, Julie received a Boston/New England Emmy for Theatre on the Edge, a film exploring the collaborative process at Double Edge, a laboratory theatre based on a farm in Western Massachusetts. Big Ideas for Little Kids: Teaching Philosophy through Picture Books, released in 2015, also received a Boston/New England Emmy and was acquired by APT for national distribution. Julie Akeret’s films are distributed nationally to educational institutions through Women Make Movies, Filmmakers Library and Bullfrog Films. Please visit her website if you want to see clips from her films: www.akeretfilms.com

Kate & Julie on location in Ohio

This project was made possible, in part, by funding from Ohio Humanities, Massachusetts Humanities, The Beveridge Family Foundation, and individual donations.

Credits:

Photos by Kate Way

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