Why we made a gun commercial

Opinion: Columns

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter

By Lisa Stukel

One View

My journey on the gun topic was a rather serendipitous path. I have been thinking and pondering about gun violence for many years. In fact, I detested guns. I would have arguments with gun owners in my family and would have a very difficult time talking to anyone about it without getting emotional. 

I was, of course, taken aback, floored, like all of us during incidents like Columbine High School; the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting; the church in Charleston, South Carolina; the Texas church shooting; and countless more. While all of these events were horrific, it really hit home after Sandy Hook. Being an elementary teacher myself, I was able to picture myself in that situation and it made me shiver. 

But even after all the hoopla died down, I was still at a loss on how to help. So I did like most people — talked about it but did nothing. It was not until the 5th anniversary of Sandy Hook that I decided to act. Shortly after, the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School incident happened in Parkland, Florida, which put more fuel to the fire. Watching the youth inspired me to act. 

 I have a friend named Tanja Murray, who is very active in Moms Demand Action. So I started arranging forums with her where we would show documentaries such as Under the Gun and Making A Killing. Moms Demand Action is bipartisan. The goal of these events were to raise awareness on current laws, and how to regulate, not control. 

 In attempting to educate myself, my first goal was to see the other side. I stepped out of my comfort zone and started having conversations with gun owners. Some were family, some were friends. I even applied for a FOID card and received it, so I can see what the steps are to get a gun legally in Illinois. I found out it was not too difficult at all. I even went on a few tours of a gun shop with my uncle as well as learn about the many different types of guns and what they are capable of doing. 

This then led to marching in Washington D.C. We had a trip planned already, but left a day early to be there for the March of Our Lives. By listening to the high school speakers, I was inspired further to help with positive change. 

An article was written about my experience in D.C. and from there, my neighbor, who is a casting agent, contacted me as she heard about my activism. When she told me about a commercial I would be in and that it would include a 10-hour class with other teachers and actually firing a gun, I was hesitant. But I knew if I want to understand the other side, I needed to step out of my comfort zone. So I went, along with six other teachers. 

The other Oak Park teachers are Jamie Sloan, Rhona Taylor, and Valencia Williams. The other three teachers were from Evanston, Chicago and Ottawa. To say we shared an unforgettable day is putting it mildly. It was a nerve-wracking experience, complete with 35-degree temperatures, rain, and 30 mile per hour winds — all a good recipe for a firing a gun, right?

What was most impressive was our gun instructor. He knew how we felt, made no judgment, and was so educated. He also agreed that teachers with guns is a terrible idea, and he saw it even more when we were done. He was in Iraq, Afghanistan, is a police officer with a psychology degree, and has a film background. We all felt so at ease with him in such a tense situation.

 In closing, that's my journey so far, and I know I have a long one ahead, but won't give up this cause. We have over 2,500 views of our commercial on YouTube but need more. I feel passionate as a teacher, that more guns in the classroom will create even bigger problems. The goal is to get as much coverage as we can to promote this cause. After 20 years of teaching, the thought of a gun on my hip while teaching shakes me to the core. Here's the link: http://www.adweek.com/agencies/heres-what-happens-when-you-take-a-group-of-teachers-to-a-gun-range/

Reader Comments

21 Comments - Add Your Comment

Note: This page requires you to login with Facebook to comment.

Comment Policy

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: May 22nd, 2018 2:17 PM

Agreed, Bruce. But that only happens if the GOP opts to be honest on this issue. You have numerous card carrying NRA members going on television and elsewhere who staunchly defend the right to bear arms, but also say that reasonable regulations and limitations have to be in place and enforced. Yet even that rational approach is met with shrieks that "liberals" want to tale away people's guns.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: May 22nd, 2018 12:21 PM

Bill: I am in total agreement with your last sentence. As a stand alone statement it is true: there is no question, no matter which side one is on in the "gun debate", that modern firearms are lethal amplifiers. The guy in France two weeks ago who killed one person with a knife , may have killed multiple people with a gun. No question. The issue is, in my opinion, is there a practical, workable solution, particularly in a country where the right to keep and bear arms is an individual right? It's a conundrum and one of the major social issues of our time, in my opinion.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: May 22nd, 2018 7:25 AM

I stand corrected, Bruce. You're right. The NRA does not ban guns unless required by local law. I stand by my other point, that the far greater problem is the enormously enhanced lethal capacity these fire arms give disturbed individuals.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: May 22nd, 2018 7:04 AM

Hey, Ray. How's that dossier looking now? Tick... tick... tick... tick... ti

Bruce Kline  

Posted: May 21st, 2018 6:15 PM

Bill, in fact you are mistaken. This is a myth: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/nra-convention-gun-ban/. First, the NRA, and for that matter any other organization, do not determine gun polices of a given convention site. Those policies are determined by city and state law in which the venue is located. Many convention venues as government sites, owned by municipalities, ban the carrying of firearms on site. But some to the contrary, do allow the carrying of weapons on site. In 2017 the NRA convention was held in Atlanta, and as such conventioneers were ?" in accordance with Georgia and Atlanta law ?" permitted to carry on site with some restriction: no carry in the food or retail court. This year, the NRA convention was held in Dallas. Again, in accordance with local ordinances, conventioneers were permitted to carry on site. The one exception was May 4 when the convention was attended by the Vice President of the US. On that date all fire arms and other weapons were banned from the convention site. But the ban was not the edict of the city nor the NRA but rather the organization responsible for the security of the Vice President: The US Secret Service. Clearly, the NRA does not set policy in these instances. The city and state in which the convention is held sets the policy; not the NRA, as you implied. And when the NRA holds their conventions in cities such as Dallas and Atlanta, then in fact, contrary to your assertion, NRA attendees can and do carry on site. The NRA clearly stated as much to attendees on their web site: "During the 2018 NRA Annual Meetings & Exhibits, lawfully carried firearms will be permitted in the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and the Omni Dallas Hotel in accordance with Texas law.  When carrying your firearm remember to follow all federal, state, and local laws."

Ray Simpson  

Posted: May 21st, 2018 4:48 PM

Can anyone figure out Dwyer's logic? Perhaps the explanation is on the back page of his "DOSSIER"

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: May 21st, 2018 6:46 AM

The NRA does not allow its convention attendees to carry any firearms into the building. They're BANNED. Why? Because NRA officials know that the truth is that the problem vis a vie mass shootings is not disturbed people seeking to do lethal violence, it's the existence of weapons that allow those disturbed people to inflict that violence on dozens of people in a matter of seconds. The NRA isn't concerned with the 99.9 percent of people who are "not the problem." They're concerned with the .1 percent who ARE the problem, and making sure that those disturbed people don't have the ability to kill three, four, five people before others can even react. .

Ray Simpson  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 10:59 PM

@ Nick - I am as opposed to gun violence as anyone here. I see the problem as WHY people harm one another and if we solve that one the HOW won't matter. Another regulation will only affect those who are "not the problem". If that is a wacko point of view I guess I plead guilty.

Nick Polido  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 8:03 PM

You need not look any further then Ray and Jason's point of view ( or their lack of), to understand why there will never be any meaningful gun control in this country.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 3:50 PM

@ Jason - your response is so full of political crap YOU could probably qualify as a terrorist. You KNOW little or nothing about the NRA but act like you are an expert. The ANTI NRA issues you raise are all untrue and right out of the DNC talking points. If you would look into the National School Shield program you might be enlightened to the purpose and objectives of the NRA. But then you might be required to eat a little crow!

Jason Cohen  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 9:56 AM

@Ray, concealed carry won't help at all. The concept of arming teachers is beyond stupid. Let's have guns walking around schools because no teacher could ever be overpowered. Let's have stressed teachers with guns strapped on. Even the cops at most of these shootings perform poorly so you are telling me a teacher with a gun will solve these problems. The NRA is a terrorist organization period. I am tired of any defense of an organization that's completely unwilling to even discuss reasonable gun control. The dems are only asking for very reasonable restrictions around who can get a gun and getting rid of access to guns that are only for killing. The fact that the NRA isn't even willing to discuss ANY of this makes them accessories. This has gone beyond any reasonable argument about the need to have these weapons. Want to shoot them for fun? Then how about they can only be rented at approved firing ranges but not owned by individuals for home use. We let mentally ill people buy guns. We let people buy them at gun shows with no background checks. There is no more discussion. The NRA is a national disgrace.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 7:18 AM

Before demonizing the NRA please check out https://www.nationalschoolshield.org/ this indicates that some organization (NRA) is taking a smart approach to the problem where honest solutions are the objective. Not some stupid knee jerk legislation that will be ignored by our progressive courts.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 6:41 AM

@Jason - that is my argument in defense of concealed carry. School shootings are the acts of sick minds that call out for mental health intervention. Spend more time studying "WHO and WHY" and less fixated on "HOW"

Jason Cohen  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 3:27 AM

@Tom, maybe we can discuss things that aren't't 50 years old? Is the argument really that we should arm everyone so the thing that is more rare than someone being killed by basically anything given that 4 people were killed is what we should use to shape national gun policy? It's also extremely convenient to try to rewrite history as we would like it to be. I really doubt the situation would have ended up a lot better if everyone had guns. How bad would things have escalated if everyone was armed? I doubt we would look back and think everyone being armed was a good idea.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: May 20th, 2018 3:19 AM

@Ray, are you really trying to convince anyone here that these criminal masterminds are going over the plans for their school shooting and decide the risk of possibly getting shot is simply too much so they scrap their plans and go home? A person doesn't get to the point that they are willing to do this because they display rational behavior. Not a single one of them would stop their plans because of this. It's silly to even suggest it. This isn't a cat burglar. You don't think the possibility of a shootout at school might be even more intriguing.

Tom Clark  

Posted: May 19th, 2018 11:45 AM

To save people time, Kaitlin Marie's argument for requiring Kent State to permit students to carry guns on campus is: 1) if the students protesting the Vietnam war had been armed, the national guard wouldn't have shot and killed four students, and 2) if Sandra Scheuer (who was 390 feet away from the guard who shot her) had been carrying a gun, she would have been able to defend herself.

Ray Simpson  

Posted: May 18th, 2018 6:28 PM

The issue of teachers being armed raises questions in the bad guys mind. "I don't know if someone will shoot back." The kid in Dixon found out what happens when there is someone who will stand up to protect the kids.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: May 18th, 2018 3:04 PM

Yes it should not be big surprise that to get a gun legally in Illinois is "not too difficult at all." Logically it should not be too difficult to exercise a constitutional right. Or else what's the point? It would not be a "right" otherwise. And whether you like it or not, the right to keep and bear arms is an individual constitutional right ... for now. And Jason, when you say ban all semi automatic weapons now, I assume you mean that the revolvers and derringer type handguns would therefore be the only handguns legally available. All semiautomatic handguns would be banned. Is that a correct interpretation of what you mean?

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: May 18th, 2018 12:32 PM

We need less people who shouldn't have guns having guns. Mass shooting represent 1% of the deaths in all shootings. The purpose of the gun maybe to kill someone in self defense. But the gun without the hand wont hurt anyone. Hillary, Bill Clinton Janet Reno have killed more people than my AR 15.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: May 18th, 2018 10:54 AM

We need less guns period! Just look at the Texas shooting. Texas has some of the most lax guns laws in the country yet these shootings still can't be stopped there. Nobody is saying to ban all guns. Let's ban the guns that have only one mission and that's to kill people. All semi automatic weapons need to go NOW!!

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: May 17th, 2018 3:51 PM

If you can, google the female Kent State graduate,Katlian Marie, her photos and her statement.

Facebook Connect

Answer Book 2018

To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2018 Answer Book, please click here.

Quick Links

Sign-up to get the latest news updates for Oak Park and River Forest.

MultimediaContact us
Submit Letter To The Editor
Place a Classified Ad

Classified Ad

Latest Comments