Anti-gun organization Project Unloaded has launched its first campaign, Safer Not Using Guns (SNUG), across twelve cities in the U.S. to inform teens about the dangers of owning and using firearms.
SNUG tapped TikTok creators including Heather Mari, Tay Marquise and Avi Angel, the latter who has almost 800,000 followers, to spread information on the dangers of gun culture to teens aged 13 to 17. The campaign is running on TikTok to reach teens on the platform they use the most, said Nina Vinik, founder and executive director of Project Unloaded.
“We reach Gen Z because research shows that the teen and young adult years are the pivotal period for decision making about owning guns,” she said. “So we’re aiming to talk to young people who haven’t made up their minds yet about guns.”
SNUG isn’t intending to change the minds of young people on TikTok who already have strong opinions about owning a gun, and doesn’t cater to political factions on the platform, Vinik added. Instead of encouraging political action that supports gun reform, SNUG focuses on the individual choice of buying and owning a firearm.
Anomaly designed the bright, vibrant look of the campaign’s website as well as the language, which tries to emulate the way Gen Z communicates.
This fall, the campaign expanded to target TikTok teens in 12 ethnically and racially diverse cities, including Atlanta and Charlotte.
“They’re also places that have different experiences with gun violence,” Vinik said. “That’s an important consideration in selecting the markets where the campaign is live.”
Project Unloaded relied on research from advisory firm Influence SG to highlight that many young people are interested in owning a gun. For instance, 42% of boys and men aged 13 to 21 are interested in buying or are sure they want to own a gun, while 37% of women aged 18 to 27 expressed the same interest.
In that same study, 33% of respondents said they would likely seek out more information before purchasing a gun, and almost half said they would benefit from knowing more about the risks and benefits of owning one.
Project Unloaded conducted its own survey of 1,000 people aged 13 to 25 alongside PR and research firm Global Strategy Group to find that a third of respondents have experienced gun violence personally. It also found that young people mostly learn about guns from family and friends, followed by media like TV, movies and video games.