(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) — One couple wants families to think twice about having their kids dress up in violent and bloody Halloween costumes.
Amanda Hanig and Jordon Gillis, who’ve been together for 17 years and have two children, told ABC News they created Goodies Not Guns to encourage children to wear, instead, nonviolent costumes when celebrating the spooky holiday.
The couple said they came up with the idea about three weeks ago while sitting on their porch in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, talking about the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas.
Stephen Paddock opened fire on the crowd at a Las Vegas music festival earlier this month, killing nearly 60 people and injuring more than 500.
“We just felt so powerless as citizens and as parents,” Hanig, 40, said. “There’s so much violence in the world, and you read about gun control … but it isn’t enough. Maybe we have to do more than that.”
With Halloween approaching, Hanig said they created Goodies Not Guns “as a way of taking some of the power back and making immediate changes.”
“It was a simple thing that we could do,” Gillis, 41, said. “And [we figured] maybe other people would like to help out.”
Thayer Lavielle is one mother of three who will be joining Goodies Not Guns in its inaugural year. Her three children, ranging in age from 9 to 13, are dressing up this year as an arctic princess, a ghoul “and a 13-year-old cranky teenager,” she said.
“We live in the South where hunting and fishing is more prevalent,” the Cary, North Carolina, mother said. “It’s our [Second] Amendment right to bear arms and to have a weapon. I don’t think anyone is arguing that…but if you’re going as a soldier as a 7-year-old, you don’t necessarily need to have an AK47 strapped to your back.”
Lavielle, 46, added that she’s joining to encourage other parents to “stop and think sometimes about the choices they make and how that can be perceived by others.”
Goodies Not Guns has already received support from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, a school district in North Carolina with 12,000 students.
“Thank you to the parents in our community who created @goodiesnotguns to promote safe costumes without weapons,” the district tweeted Thursday.
Thank you to the parents in our community who created @goodiesnotguns to promote safe costumes without weapons.
— CHCCS (@chccs) October 19, 2017
The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence, a national non-profit organization that advocates gun control, also tweeted its support. “Shout out to local gun violence prevention advocates for working to promote safety in their communities,” they wrote Friday.
The creators of Guns Not Goodies emphasize that they’re not making a judgement regarding gun ownership.
“We’re not trying to tell people not to own guns,” Hanig said. “We’re just trying to say consider not sending your kids out with violence. I realize that it’s all in fun, but if we teach kids that guns are fun, what are we teaching them?”
Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.