collage of hand gun on yellow backdrop with tv noise in some four squares of a 4x3 grid
Photo courtesy of Hollywood, Health & Society

Hollywood, Health & Society at USC Norman Lear Center debuts timely resource for the portrayal of gun safety in the media

Hollywood, Health & Society at USC Annenberg’s Norman Lear Center has released Trigger Warning: Gun Guidelines for the Media to help the entertainment industry improve representations of safe and responsible gun use in media.

The data in this guide represents a snapshot of trends over the past 20 years, as well as a warning of where those trends are headed without conscientious action. It also highlights how film and television creatives have the power to shape public perception, normalize habits, and even affect policy. 

“I couldn’t be prouder that the center which bears my name is releasing this report about gun safety and the entertainment industry,” Lear said. “How guns are portrayed on screen should reflect the public health crisis we are in, and help portray responsible gun ownership.” 

Marty Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center, adds, “the Lear Center’s message to the creative community in this report comes down to this: Treat guns in your stories as if they were real. Because your audience does.”

Since 2001, Hollywood, Health & Society (HH&S) has been a free resource to the entertainment industry, having consulted on over 2,600 storylines between 2012–2020. HH&S also works with networks and shows to produce PSAs and other informational spots offering resources to audiences. In recent years, HH&S has consulted on dozens of shows including Grey’s Anatomy, This is Us, Will Trent, New Amsterdam, Superman & Lois, Euphoria, NCIS, Orange is the New Black, Empire, Days of Our Lives, Shameless, Hawaii Five-O, Fire Country, Station 19, The Resident and many more.

“From ‘designated driver’ to ‘buckle up,’ we all know how Hollywood helped make our roads safer by depicting responsible driving,” said Kate Folb, director of Hollywood, Health & Society. “TV shows are in a unique position to change the narrative, reset the bar, and provide a representation of safe, responsible behavior when it comes to firearms.”

The guide was developed in collaboration with Brady, the nation’s oldest and boldest gun violence prevention group. Outraged by the tragedy in Uvalde, about 300 leading writers, directors and producers signed Brady's open letter committing to modeling gun safety on screen. Now, they have a roadmap to turn that commitment into tangible change.

“Hollywood leaders want to use their talents and voices to inspire positive culture change,” said Kris Brown, president of Brady. “We've heard many creatives share examples of meaningful changes they've made since signing the pledge, so I am excited for the life-saving impact that will come now that the community has this important tool.”

For more information on Hollywood, Health & Society and its goals to improve representations of safe gun use in media, please visit