WASHINGTON — Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) will be telling moviegoers this summer not to mess with guns, but he won’t be yelling it at an ear-splitting level.

On the same day the Motion Picture Assn. of America announced another reduction in the allowable decibel level for film trailers, to take effect June 1, McCain’s office announced he will appear in an unprecedented movie trailer urging parents and kids to play it safe with guns.

Public service announcement will run on 2,500 screens from May 18 to June 18, intentionally coinciding with summer releases. Innovative campaign was developed by the Americans for Gun Safety Foundation at a total cost of $250,000.

McCain, wowed by the proposed script, quickly signed on to the project.

“We thought it was the right message to send to parents and kids who were attending movies during the summer months,” a McCain spokeswoman said. “Americans have a right to own a gun, but along with that right comes the responsibility to keep guns safe and out of the hands of children.”

Many in Hollywood have long complained that while Washington is quick to attack the entertainment industry for promoting a culture of violence, it remains silent on the subject of guns.

To get its campaign up and running, the gun safety foundation used a third-party agency that buys ad time before movie trailers begin.

By all accounts, it’s an infant industry.

“We are paying for it the way any commercial enterprise is paid for. It’s similar to a television buy,” Americans for Gun Safety spokesman Matt Bennett said.

Exhib and movie execs said they can’t remember another instance where this time was used for a public service announcement, especially one featuring a high-profile politician.

“It was designed to hit as the summer movie season begins and as families go to the movies together. Hopefully, it will get parents and kids talking about the real-life consequences of gun use, as opposed to what they see in the movies,” Bennett said.

The 30-second spot will roll in theaters in 210 cities, stretching across 44 states.

Volume dropping

Within days of McCain’s debut on the silver screen, moviegoers also may notice that movie trailers in general are quieter.

On Wednesday, the MPAA’s Trailer Audio Standards Assn. (TASA) said the latest volume reduction to LEQ (m) 85 will take effect June 1.

Prior to TASA’s formation in 1999, loud trailer volume was the No. 1 complaint in movie theaters everywhere, the MPAA said. TASA had twice reduced the allowable noise level before Tuesday’s announcement.

“Although since the program’s inception, the number of complaints has dropped significantly, we continue to work toward lowering the volume. The latest reduction signals further real progress,” National Assn. of Theater Owners veep and exec director Mary Ann Grasso said.

The new decibel level was agreed to at an April 18 meeting of TASA that was attended by reps of the seven major studios and sound mixers.