Sabrina Sanchez
Feb 15, 2024

Mass shooting victims call Congress members to demand gun safety legislation

The Shotline uses AI and audio provided by victims’ families to generate computerised versions of the voices of victims killed by gun violence.

Mass shooting victims call Congress members to demand gun safety legislation

February 14, for many people, is Valentine’s Day. For the families of the victims of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, it is the anniversary of the most devastating day of their lives. 

That’s why on the sixth anniversary of the shooting, families once again called on Congress to pass stronger gun safety laws—through the voices of their late children.

On Wednesday, Change the Ref and March for Our Lives, in partnership with MullenLowe, launched The Shotline'—an automated platform that uses computerised versions of shooting victims’ voices to leave personal voicemails for lawmakers. 

The campaign, created with the permission of the victims’ families, uses AI to generate messages in which victims of gun violence share, in their own voices, the harrowing details of how they were killed. Constituents can visit a website to send a victim’s personal story as a phone call directly to lawmakers. 

The campaign aims to force political leaders to confront the toll their inaction around gun violence has taken. Change the Ref founders Manuel and Patricia Oliver, parents of Parkland shooting victim Joaquin Oliver, along with members of March For Our Lives, launched The Shotline campaign with a rally outside the U.S. Capitol. 

“Some might judge me because I’m using artificial intelligence to re-create the voice of my murdered son,” Manuel Oliver said in a statement. “Let us judge politicians that use their organic intelligence to do nothing to save lives.”

Guns have become the leading cause of death among children under 18 for the third consecutive year. Just in the past few weeks, several mass shootings have taken place, including at Joel Olsteen’s Texas megachurch on Sunday and at Perry High School in Iowa in January. 

The platform also includes a searchable database of public contact information for state representatives, so constituents can send a message to the correct lawmaker. 

At launch, the campaign will include the voices of: Uziyah Garcia, a 10 year-old child killed by an AR-15 alongside 18 classmates and two teachers in the Uvalde school shooting at Robb Elementary School; Joaquin Oliver, a 17 year-old shot and killed by an AR-15 during a February 14, 2018, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL; Ethan Song, a 15 year-old killed by a gun left unsecured at a friend’s house; Jaycee Webster, a 20-year-old shot and killed in his bedroom by a lone gunman; Michael Baughan, who died from a self-inflicted shot to the head using a gun he was able to purchase in only 15 minutes; and Akilah Dasilva, a 23 year-old killed by a man with an AR-15 in a mass shooting at a Waffle House.

“Six years ago today, at a shooting at my high school, 17 lives were taken and another 17 people’s lives [were] forever changed by profound injuries. My classmates and I refused to accept that as normal,” said David Hogg, Parkland survivor and board member and co-founder of March For Our Lives in a statement. 

“We grieved, and we still grieve, but we decided to also turn that grief into action. Yet too many weak politicians are comfortable with the status quo. They won’t stand up to the gun lobby and take bold action. Now, for the very first time, politicians will hear directly from the victims of their willful ignorance. 

“Through The Shotline, our leaders will be forced to confront their hypocrisy and the consequences of their inaction through calls from AI-generated voices of those killed by gun violence in America under our leaders’ watch. I’m so honoured to stand with Manny Oliver and Change the Ref on this survivor-driven campaign to force our leaders to face the pain and trauma that survivors feel every day."

“If they won’t listen to us, I hope they will listen to the victims, and if they don’t, nothing will stop us from voting them out in November.”

Campaign Asia

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