Gun Safe Cities has been running a campaign on gun safety on its social media platforms.
Gun Safe Cities is a group committed to helping reduce gun deaths by encouraging safe use and storage of firearms and promoting awareness around the dangers of firearms when they are casually and improperly handled.
The campaign which was launched in mid-June 2019 and scheduled to run till mid-August 2019 began with a short video clip posted on social media who’s aim was to highlight that the people most likely to be shot with one’s firearm is the owner or a family member.
Gun Safe Cities says this was to show that so many guns aren’t stored and handled as the dangerous things that they are.
Watch Video here: https://vimeo.com/339969577
The short video was distributed through social media where news media outlets then picked up the story and it grabbed people’s attention. Social media and press releases were used to create a wide PR campaign.
However, the reaction to the video and the campaign on social media was not what Havas and Gun Safe Cities Chief Creative Officer John Davenport expected.
“I think people didn’t take the time to see that we weren’t saying they shouldn’t have guns, just that they need to be stored and looked after very carefully. The extreme reaction included dozens of angry mails, calls and one x death threat on social media,” said Davenport.
“The cultural divide between pro-gun and anti-gun worlds is so extreme that there seems no room to listen for either party. As soon as you say anything that isn’t overtly pro-gun, the pro-gun lobby reacts very strongly. They see themselves as a persecuted minority and react accordingly at all times,” he said.
The comments on the video were criticising the portrayal of people who own guns with most saying the statistics quoted in the video were false and incorrect while others dismissed them as lies and propaganda.
Speaking on the MarkLives.com website in reaction to the criticism, Davenport said: “I was really surprised at how this group reacted. The idea that a gun keeps them safe is so integral to a world view that any conversation around it is almost impossible.”
“I think it reflects a world that is increasingly divided and radicalised due to internet conversations and a media world where people only communicate with people who agree with them and are conditioned to fight with everyone who doesn’t. This may well have been the most interesting part of the whole project,” he said.
Davenport has stopped taking interviews regarding the campaign and has refused to further comment on what this means for the campaign and the charity.
Koketso Ramorei is a journalist and news editor of SADC News with years of experience in a number of genres including sports, politics and community reporting. He has worked for a numerous publications including The Citizen Newspaper and is a former editor of a Johannesburg-based off-campus publication called The Waldorfian Times.