Vinik: I Want Project Unloaded to be the Next D.A.R.E Program

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Decades of behavior research tell us, however, that adults’ views are based on what fits into their preexisting understanding of how things work. By early adulthood, our views solidify and become difficult to change. In short, if we wait until people are likely to vote to talk to them about guns, we’ve waited too long.

Luckily, there is a window when the facts can persuade.

Working closely with researchers, I sought to understand more about that window and what could be done.

What we found is that many teenagers and young adults have yet to fully form their views on guns. Specifically, research shows that more than a quarter of teens and young adults report talking to their peers about guns, and are interested in learning more about the risks and responsibilities of gun use. But they didn’t know where to go for credible information.

After gaining an understanding of teen awareness of gun issues, I wanted to dig into the motivations of teens interested in getting a gun, which is most of them. The vast majority said they wanted one for personal safety.

It became clear that to reduce gun violence in America, we needed to empower young people with the facts—that having a gun makes them less safe, not more. With that goal in mind, Project Unloaded started to run campaigns focused on reaching young people on social media with the simple message that they’re safer not using guns.

— Nina Vinik in A New Approach To Prevent Gun Violence 

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