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In Its Second Annual Report, Project Unloaded Offers Evidence that Changing Gun Culture is Possible and Effective

This Year, Project Unloaded Launched Its Community Partner Program, Released New Research on Gun Violence and its Impact on Gen Z, and Unveiled Its Second Social Media Campaign to Reach Young People with Information about Gun Risks

CHICAGOProject Unloaded, an organization working to create a new cultural narrative that more guns make us less safe, today released its 2023 Annual Report. As the organization closes out its second year, there are early indications that Project Unloaded’s strategy and tactics are working to reach young people and shift their views on using guns.

In the last year, Project Unloaded:

  • Expanded its successful SNUG (Safer Not Using Guns) campaign, which has now reached over 3 million 13-17-year-olds across TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram
    • In the pilot phase of the campaign, 15% of teens shifted against the idea that guns made them safer after exposure to SNUG messages
  • Launched Guns Change the Story, a research-backed campaign specifically designed to resonate with teens in communities disproportionately harmed by gun violence
  • Partnered with multicultural market research firm Ahzul to release the Stay Inside report, which delves into how teens in cities understand guns and gun violence
    • 18% of teens surveyed moved away from the myth that guns make them safer after seeing messages about gun risks
  • Piloted summer partnerships with Chicago Public Schools and After School Matters, empowering more than 300 Chicago teens with the facts about having a gun and the tools they need to change gun culture
    • By the end of our 6-week program with CPS, the percentage of students surveyed who said they were likely to own a gun fell by over 20 points
  • Welcomed Project Unloaded’s second Youth Council, comprised of 14 high school and college student leaders who convened in Chicago in November to plan social media, text, and campaign strategy for the coming year
  • Released Gun Smoke, an innovative research analysis conducted by Project Unloaded’s Youth Council evaluating network television’s depiction of guns before and during the Hollywood strikes, finding that fewer guns on TV during the strikes had no impact on ratings

“Our gun violence epidemic won’t be stopped without addressing our lethal gun culture,” said Nina Vinik, Founder and Executive Director of Project Unloaded. “Gen Z feels the impact of gun violence every day. We’re proving that young people are interested in learning the facts about the risks of having and using guns and shifting their views as a result. Through engaging content on social media and empowering community partnerships, the message that guns make us less safe is getting through. With young people leading, lives will be saved.”

In 2024, Project Unloaded will continue to expand the SNUG and Guns Change the Story campaigns, while deepening engagements with community partners and embarking on new research on teen mental health and gun violence. Its Youth Council will further its work too, through new social media projects and working to expand Project Unloaded’s resources for young people interested in shifting gun culture.

“I joined the Youth Council because I believe that gun culture must change,” said Paige Carter, co-chair of Project Unloaded’s Youth Council. “I stayed for a second year because I’m inspired by the progress that Project Unloaded is making. I feel so hopeful that my generation can be the ones to rewrite the narrative on guns.”

Read Project Unloaded’s full 2023 Annual Report here.


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