Legal gun ownership is heavily regulated in the United States. Protecting our rights is not necessary when we agree. It becomes essential to protect a minority view, and gun owners are a minority here in the US. Pew research conducted a series of interviews last month. They released reports on the opinions of gun owners and non-gun owners. Here are where gun owners and non-owners disagree based on recent polling data.
The urban/rural divide-
Gun-culture 2.0 is centered around self-defense rather than hunting. That motivation has grown in recent years but there is still a large urban/rural divide in gun ownership and the attitude towards firearms. Most rural households have a gun. Urban households with a gun remain a minority. You’re almost twice as likely to live with a gun in your home if you live in the country as opposed to the city. There are similarities. A majority of gun owners in both settings have a loaded gun easily accessible.
There are also large differences between the urban and rural culture. A majority of rural non-gun owners say they have friends who own guns. Despite the myth of urban diversity, a minority of urban non-gun owners say they have friends who own guns. There is some common ground between gun owners and non-gun owners. A majority of non-gun owners in both urban and rural areas say they have at least fired a gun.
The handgun owners who carry concealed are significantly more likely to be NRA members than those handgun owners who don’t carry. NRA members are significantly less supportive of background checks than are non-NRA gun owners. Gun owners who are NRA members were almost five times more likely to contact their political representatives about gun policy than gun owners who are not NRA members.
People who admit over the phone to owning a gun are three times more likely to be male than female. On average, women learned about guns when they were eight years older than when men learned about guns. Women are a growing part of the gun culture, but they have not reached parity yet.
Disagreement about safe storage-
Non-gun owners have different standards of gun safety than people who actually own a gun. A majority of non-gun owners think all guns should be kept unloaded at all times with ammunition stored separately. A majority of gun owners disagree. That divergent opinion might be explained by the reality of keeping both guns and ammunition in a locked gun safe. We simply don’t know.
Duty to inform-
A minority of both gun owners and non-gun owners say it is essential to tell visitors there is a gun in the home. Though a minority view, non-gun owners were almost five times as likely to say that gun owners should tell visitors that there is a gun in the home. Non-gun owners were almost twice as likely to say there is a duty to inform if the visitors have children. Again, this difference may be masked by the practice of safe storage.
Personal protection versus sporting use-
The majority of gun owners say they own a gun for personal protection. A majority of gun owners also say that they feel safer having a gun in their home. As expected, a minority of people living without a gun in the home feel that having a gun would make them feel safer.
A clear majority of gun owners say they have taken a firearms safety course. A majority of non-gun owners say that safety training is essential but they have never taken such training themselves. I wonder who will teach their children about gun safety?
The right to keep and bear-
Gun owners and non-gun owners disagree on the right to keep and bear arms. They disagree about banning “assault weapons”, banning “high capacity magazines”, and reducing the number and type of “gun-free” zones. Non-gun owners think gun laws work.
Guns and crime-
Gun owners think legal gun ownership reduces crime, while non-gun owners think legal gun ownership leads to more crime. Non-gun owners think easier access to legal gun ownership would lead to mass shootings. They think legal gun owners are part of the problem. Gun owners disagree.
The poll gives us public opinion. We may argue that the opinion is uninformed or inaccurate, but that is a separate discussion. It shows us the clear differences between the gun culture and opinions held by the majority.
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