Social Media Effort Seeks to Denigrate Gun Ownership

Image by MikeGunner from Pixabay

Gun ownership is one of those things that’s quintessentially American. While other countries have gun owners as well, they’re the result of asking permission from their rulers; of jumping through hoops until, hopefully, you’re deemed worthy of such a privilege.


We don’t do that here. Here, we recognize that you have a right to keep and bear arms and that only people who have been deemed by the courts to be unworthy have that right revoked. It’s still not perfect, but it’s better than what we see elsewhere.

And that bothers a lot of people.

It’s not that we can own guns so much, in some cases, but that many of us choose to do so.

Now, a social media campaign hopes to indoctrination young people to decline this quintessential right.

It’s hard to change any adult’s mind about anything, let alone a subject as heated as guns in the U.S.

That’s why a national nonprofit’s social media campaign about gun violence is focused on teens, and the Milwaukee area is one of a dozen cities where the campaign is live.

“We all know very well, as we get to be adults, it’s very hard to shift our views on all kinds of topics, but that’s not true when it comes to young people,” said Nina Vinik, the executive director of Project Unloaded. “It is a period when they’re collecting knowledge. They’re forming their attitudes that ultimately will lead to their behaviors — their choice whether or not to own and use guns.”

Vinik has spent two decades in the gun violence prevention movement and is the founder of Project Unloaded. In January 2022, the group launched its social media campaign, called Safer Not Using Guns, or SNUG. Its goal is to fuel cultural change, rather than policy change, around gun ownership.

The campaign has been active in the Milwaukee area for nearly two years and has reached around 164,000 young people on Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, according to Project Unloaded.

And the campaign is informed by a youth council made up of teens from across the country — one of them a senior at Brookfield Academy.

Videos encourage fact-checking about dangers of gun violence

A typical SNUG advertisement lasts just 15 seconds and includes one or more young people speaking to the camera as upbeat music plays. They recite the phrase “safer not using guns” and repeat a statistic, such as kids who live in a home with guns are four times as likely to die by suicide than those who live without them.


Now, SNUG challenges people to fact check them, which is fine, but since we also know what numbers the media pushes and how little they actually dig into those numbers, we have a problem. They know that the statistics rarely account for other factors besides gun ownership.

The goal here is to denigrate gun ownership, to make it look too risky to undertake, all in an effort to indoctrinate an electorate so as to allow our right to keep and bear arms be stripped away.

Yes, they have a right to do this because it’s free speech. Further, they’re not explicitly calling for gun control, simply using their constitutionally protected right to say things to discourage people from using another constitutionally protected right.

That doesn’t make this harmless, though.

Especially in light of laws that claim to prevent marketing a firearm to young people but, in reality, shut down pretty much any effort to present gun ownership positively to those same young people.

What will happen is that, in many places, they’ll get one side of the story and be legally barred from getting the other in any kind of professional format.

We’re in a battel for the hearts and minds of our young people. It’s time to step up our game.


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