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New Survey Reveals Gen Z More Worried About Gun Violence Than Climate Change or Access to Abortion

A majority of young people have experienced gun violence in their lives, either personally or through a close friend or family member

CHICAGOProject Unloaded, an organization changing the cultural narrative about gun violence and safety, today released Gen Z Gun and Culture Insights, a report on the impact of gun violence on Gen Z. Conducted by Global Strategy Group, the survey polled 1,000 Americans, ages 13 through 25, to understand how young people, particularly Gen Z, think about guns and gun violence.

“Most young people believe the myth that having a gun makes them safer, and that myth is driving up rates of gun ownership, and by extension, gun deaths, across the country,” said Nina Vinik, founder and executive director of Project Unloaded. “Still, there’s reason to hope: when presented with the facts about the risks of using guns, young people in all demographic groups shifted their views against seeing guns as a means of protection. The research shows that it’s possible to shift the culture around guns, and that will save lives.”

Key results from the report include:

  • Thirty percent of teens and young adults have experienced gun violence personally and another quarter (24%) have a friend or family member who has.

  • More than a quarter (28%) say either they themselves or a friend or family member have been shot at.

  • Among Black and Latino young people, more than 60% have personal experience with gun violence or know someone who has.

  • Gen Z ranks gun violence as a bigger problem than climate change or abortion access.

  • When asked to rank gun violence among other problems, the majority of young people (51%) said it was an important problem. On access to abortion, 47% saw it as a problem. On climate change, just 37% of those polled said it was a major problem.

  • School shootings and mass shootings are top of mind for young people, heightening perceptions that they are unsafe. 

  • Half of young people (50%) report thinking about mass shootings at least weekly, while another 48% say they think about school shootings as often.

  • Black teens feel considerably less safe in their schools. 

  • Only 26% of Black young people report feeling “very safe” when at school, a full 13-points lower than white young people (39% very safe) and 4-points lower than Latino young people (30% very safe).

  • Movies, television and video games are key sources of information about guns.

  • More than half (51%) of young people cite movies and television as a source for learning about guns, and 37% said they learned about guns from video games.

  • Black youth are more likely to say that they learned about guns from television and movies (62% of Black youth) than white youth, who cite friends and family as the most prevalent source of information about guns.

The survey echoes past research showing that most young people believe that having a gun makes them safer. But after reading simple messages on the risks of using guns, young people shifted away from the notion that guns make them safer by nearly 20 points. The magnitude of the shift is not seen in surveys of older populations. This change happened across all demographics – even young people in homes with guns shifted their views.

“Like many young people, I grew up in a household with guns,” said Project Unloaded youth council member Paige Carter, a 19-year-old student at Purdue University in Indiana. “But I also grew up fully aware of how gun violence devastates communities and particularly harms my generation. It’s up to us to be the ones who change gun culture. If young people decide against carrying and owning guns, we can reduce gun deaths and other shootings that traumatize communities every day in America.”

The survey highlights how deeply gun violence impacts young people and how willing they are to listen to the facts and change their views based on the data. By empowering young people with the facts on guns, we can correct the widespread myth that guns make us safer and reduce rates of gun ownership among future generations, which will save countless lives. To learn more about Project Unloaded’s approach to stopping gun violence, please visit projectunloaded.org.


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