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 further into the mainstream, many individuals and schools around the nation have already decided to take matters into their own hands by 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 it is happening.
G is for Gun: The Arming of America’s Teachers is more than a project about building awareness; it is about empowering the public to make and participate in decisions affecting their schools, their communities, and the larger society in which they live. 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 historical context that has 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.
An Ohio Principal trains at the firing range
About the filmmakers
G is for Gun was co-directed and produced by two independent, Massachusetts-based artists and educators.
Kate Way is a photographer, filmmaker, and veteran educator, and has spent the past twenty years as a teacher, administrator, and researcher in schools throughout New England. Kate holds an Ed.D. in Language, Literacy & Culture, and an M.F.A. in Photography.
Julie Akeret is an award-winning documentary filmmaker who has worked for over twenty-five years in various capacities of the film business as sound editor, assistant film editor, cameraperson, and director and producer. Many of her films have been about public education, and have received a number of awards, including two regional Emmys.
“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 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.
This project was made possible, in part, by funding from Ohio Humanities, Massachusetts Humanities, The Beveridge Family Foundation, and individual donations.