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Using Advertising to Increase Gun Safety, Reduce Gun Ownership

Following the same path that convinced Americans to buckle up, stop smoking cigarettes and prevent forest fires, public-health advertising campaigns may now be aimed at reforming the country’s relationship with guns, The Trace reports. This is a major shift for people in the gun-violence prevention movement, which has used most of its money and stroke to change gun policy in courtrooms and statehouses. Yet gun deaths have been climbing for decades, and in 2020, guns surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death for young people.


Recently, the Ad Council worked with gun-violence-prevention groups on one project to promote safe gun-storage practices and a second to educate the public about red-flag laws. In February, they announced a third gun violence collaboration with healthcare groups. The Biden administration has also been building out its own gun-safety messaging efforts focused on service members and veterans, and just last month, on red flag laws. But the most ambitious effort to change Americans’ relationship to guns may come from a nonprofit called Project Unloaded, which is using marketing to attack the idea that owning guns make you safer or more powerful. It’s the problem at the heart of gun violence, they say: Too many households own guns, and more access to guns leads to more deaths and injuries.  And if future gun ownership decreases by just a couple of points, the effects will be "population-level big."

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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