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U.S. Department of Justice and Ad Council Launch PSAs to Reduce Gun Violence in America


Department of Justice Unveils Ads at Annual Project Safe Neighborhoods Conference

ATLANTA. – The U.S. Department of Justice, in partnership with the Ad Council, announced today the launch of a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) aimed at reducing gun crime in America. The PSAs are an extension of the Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative. First launched in 2003, the campaign seeks to reduce violent crime by drawing attention to the negative effects gun crime has on the families of offenders. The ads will be unveiled this afternoon at the Annual Project Safe Neighborhoods Conference in Atlanta.

Developed by the U.S. Department of Justice, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment designed to reduce gun crime in America. As in previous phases of the campaign, the new television, radio and outdoor PSAs seek to engage potential offenders by portraying the negative consequences gun crime has not only for those who commit it, but also for their families. The ads are available in both English and Spanish and have been localized for 60 markets nationwide.

“Based on preliminary data from the 2006 Uniform Crime Report, we expect that the release of the final report will show a slight increase in violent crime,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Acting Director Michael Sullivan. “Project Safe Neighborhoods has been very successful in combating violent crime at the community level, but we need to continue to reach potential offenders--especially potential juvenile offenders--with this critical campaign to prevent additional Americans from becoming victims.”

Despite progress in the fight against gun crime in America, gun crime rates continue to be among the highest in the industrialized world. In 2005, for example, guns were used in more than two-thirds of the 16,700 homicides and in an estimated 420,000 nonfatal violent crimes in our country.
Furthermore, 31% of all homicide victims were 13 to 24 years old, and these teenage and young adult victims were four times more likely to be murdered with a gun than with all other weapons combined.

The new PSAs were created pro bono by Boston-based ad agency Mullen and aim to reach at-risk youth (ages 14-25) and their families. Research conducted by Mullen in cities across the country demonstrates that the threat of incarceration, or even death, is not the most significant crime deterrent for young people who carry illegal guns. Rather, research indicates that young people are more likely to steer clear of gun crime if they are aware of the negative ways in which it can affect their mothers and other family members.

Based on this research, the PSAs illustrate the consequences that innocent people face when a family member commits a crime and conclude with the tagline, “Gun Crimes Hit Home.” New radio spots feature testimonials from offenders, who are currently in prison, speaking about how their incarceration has affected their families. The lives of family members are often characterized by emotional pain, loneliness and financial hardship. To view the new PSAs, visit

“I am proud to continue this critical campaign with the U.S. Department of Justice to help reduce gun crime in our country,” said Peggy Conlon, President & CEO of the Ad Council. “This poignant advertising speaks directly to the mindset of potential offenders, and I believe it will have a significant impact.”

“It’s very satisfying to see how our initial core strategic idea: the impact of a gun crime on an offenders family, has given us the legs to deliver one compelling ad after another in this ongoing campaign,” said Michael Ancevic, Senior Vice President, Group Creative Director of Mullen. “The new work delivers the core idea in a very emotional way by speaking directly to the potential offender. It makes them stop and think of who may be unintentionally affected by their actions.”

The PSAs are being distributed to media outlets nationwide this week. Per the Ad Council model, the new ads will air in advertising time that is donated by the media. Since its 2003 launch, the Reducing Gun Violence campaign has received more than $133 million in donated advertising time and space.

The Department of Justice
Launched in 2001 under the leadership of President George W. Bush, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and providing those programs with the resources they need to be successful. PSN helps to create safer communities through heightened coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local law enforcement and the community.

In the past six years, PSN has enabled the Department of Justice to more than double the number of firearms prosecutions brought in the last six years of the previous Administration. In FY 2006, the Department prosecuted over 10,000 federal firearms cases against over 12,000 defendants. Over 93% of those offenders received prison terms and nearly 75% were sentenced to three or more years in prison. More federal defendants than ever before are going to prison for gun crimes. To learn more about the Department of Justice and Project Safe Neighborhoods, visit and


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