Shonda Rhimes, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Kimmel, and more pledge to reform gun use in storytelling

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Shonda Rhimes, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Kimmel
Shonda Rhimes, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Kimmel

Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images; Andrew Burton/Getty Images; Getty Images

In the wake of deadly mass shootings, 200 top writers, directors, and producers have announced their part in an initiative to employ revised gun safety practices on set and review the use of firearms in storytelling more critically.

Shonda Rhimes, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Kimmel, and the writers of his late-night show Jimmy Kimmel Live, are among those who have signed an open letter, which is backed by the Brady gun violence organization, calling for members of the TV and film industry to do their part for gun safety.

Schumer has partaken in gun reform activism since a gunman opened fire on a crowded Louisiana movie theater during a screening of her film Trainwreck in 2016, killing two and injuring nine.

Also among the signatories are Ted Lasso writer Bill Lawrence, Damon Lindeloff, Michelle and Robert King, Judd Apatow, Steve Levitan, David Shore, Matt Nix, Dan Lin, and Jenni Konner.

"As America's storytellers, our goal is primarily to entertain, but we also acknowledge that stories have the power to effect change. Cultural attitudes toward smoking, drunk driving, seatbelts and marriage equality have all evolved due in large part to movies' and TV's influence. It's time to take on gun safety," the letter states.

The letter was unveiled in the wake of the May 24 elementary school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, which left 19 children and two adults dead. The tragedy occurred just over a week after a gunman killed 10 Black victims at a supermarket in Buffalo, N.Y.

The horrific events have led to renewed discussions surrounding gun violence in the U.S. and seen several high profile figures use their platform to discuss the issue, including Matthew McConaughey, who spoke during a White House press briefing last week to advocate for gun law reform.

The Brady organization has been a vocal force in recent weeks, partaking in educational outreach and working to collaborate with the creative community.

"As we worked through the language, we wanted to be respectful of the creative community's wide range of experience and opinions about guns on screen,"  Christy Callahan, co-chair of Brady LA said in a statement. "Every person agreed that not only do we need better gun laws, but also modeling gun safety on screen could have a positive effect on the culture in a country with 400 million guns in circulation. It worked with smoking and seatbelts, it's time to try with gun safety."

Those putting their name to the letter have vowed to employ more thoughtful measures when it comes to the use of firearms in narratives by limiting "scenes including children and guns, bearing in mind that guns are now the leading cause of death for children and adolescents." Furthermore, those participating plan to undertake conversations on how to limit the use of guns in scripts by considering "alternatives that could be employed without sacrificing narrative integrity."

The letter does not reference specific gun reform policy revisions, acknowledging that vowing to change on-screen practices is not a substitute for "common sense gun legislation."

"We are under no illusions that these actions are a substitute for common sense gun legislation. Furthermore, this list does not incorporate every nuance of guns on screen. However, these are small things that we can do as a community to try and end this national nightmare."

Firearms practices on set have been a major topic since October after Alec Baldwin accidentally shot and killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust.

Read the full letter here.

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