In the US, gun violence and shared trauma is normalized for young people – which could be why many are open to firearm ownership
But guns do not make people or households safer, explained Nina Vinik, the founder of gun violence prevention group Project Unloaded, who hopes to snuff out protectionist falsehoods. In fact, people who own handguns are more likely than non-gun owners to be shot.
Research conducted by Project Unloaded last year found that 70% of young people believe owning a gun makes them safer, and half of young people are interested in owning a gun. But it also showed that young people are open to having discussions about gun ownership, and that they are the most likely to have their minds changed by hard evidence.
“Most Americans have bought into the myth that having a gun is going to make them safer,” said Vinik. “But for young people, that’s not a belief that is deeply held. They want to learn more and they’re interested in knowing more about the risks and responsibilities of gun use.”
Vinik and Project Unloaded launched the Snug (Safer Not Using Guns) campaign last year, which uses TikTok videos and paid influencer messaging to connect with young people.
Anvesha Guru, a 16-year-old member of Project Unloaded’s Youth Council, said that many of her peers in suburban Wisconsin come from gun-owning families, but are receptive when she talks about gun violence in a non-judgmental and non-partisan manner. “Young people have the ability to actually make an impact in gun deaths and decrease gun homicides [by] changing the narrative surrounding guns,” said Guru.