Profile No. 50

Hands Without Guns -- Washington, DC

Program Type or Federal Program Source:
Program to change attitudes about guns and violence.

Program Goal:
To promote a public health and education campaign to change attitudes about gun violence and gun possession by highlighting positive youth programs.

Specific Groups Targeted by the Strategy:
12- to 18-year-old youth.

Geographical Area Targeted by the Strategy:

Evaluated by:
Internal data collection.

Contact Information:
Josh Horwitz
Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence
1000 16th Street NW., Suite 603
Washington, DC 20036
Phone: 202­530­5888, ext. 28

Years of Operation:

Over the past three decades, gun-related injuries and deaths have risen among youth. Hands Without Guns, a public health and education campaign, was developed by the Educational Fund to End Handgun Violence, in partnership with a creative communications firm, to address this growing problem. The goal of the initiative is to change the attitudes of 12- to 18-year-old youth about gun possession. To accomplish this, the initiative seeks to reduce the public acceptability of firearms by promoting and stimulating positive grassroots initiatives and by encouraging youth activism in the fight against gun violence. These activities include youth antiviolence programs and a variety of afterschool projects not typically associated with violence prevention, such as theater groups, arts centers, and video clubs.

Hands Without Guns has three components. One is an extensive media campaign using television, radio, transportation advertisements, and music. Through this effort, youth see that other youth are involved in positive activities and that their efforts are supported and praised by adults. A second component is youth outreach through a series of workshops and activities. In the workshops, youth are encouraged to develop their own responses to gun violence. For example, in the Boston program, the youth developed a buyback program for toy guns. The third component is an evaluation of program outcomes. A youth survey available in long or short forms, developed by the Harvard University School of Public Health, is administered before the campaign starts and at various times throughout the campaign to determine its impact on youth. Specifically, one of the questions asks youth whether they have ever carried a handgun for protection. The results of the survey appear to demonstrate a beneficial effect of the program. Youth who had never carried a gun before were more likely to know about the program (40 percent) than those who had carried a gun before (10 percent).

Over the past 3 years, the Hands Without Guns program has been implemented in four cities: Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Holland, MI; and Washington, DC. In 1999, the campaign will be implemented in Milwaukee, WI; Norfolk/Virginia Beach, VA; Pittsburgh, PA; and Richmond, VA.

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