Washington, DC, August 28, 2018 – Much of the national discussion surrounding guns centers on regulation and the partisan divide that exists as it relates to policy. Often missing in the discussion is the cultural impact of guns within communities. In a survey comparing gun owning and non-gun owning Americans across age groups, Newsy and Ipsos examined differences in approaches to gun regulation and exposure to gun culture.
On policy, a majority of Americans (55%) agree that the country would be safer if we enacted stricter gun control laws. When breaking respondents into gun owners and non-gun owners, the rates of agreement begin to show a difference of opinion. Non-gun owners agree at a higher rate with enacting stricter gun control laws (60%) compared to gun owners (42%). On the issue of gun control, younger American Millennials (those between ages 18 and 34), gun owners or not, tend to lean close to the opinion of non-gun owners, with 61% reporting that they believe the country would be safer under stricter gun control laws.
Although the majority of Millennials believe in stricter gun control, that does not mean they are shying away from gun culture. Among Millennials, 28% are gun owners, an equal rate to Gen Xers (between ages 35-54) and Baby Boomers (older than 55) 28% and 27% of whom own guns, respectively. In fact, compared to their elder counterparts, Millennial gun owners are more likely to carry a gun on them at least once a month. Forty-three percent of gun owning Millennials carry their gun relatively often, while just 25% of gun owning Gen Xers and 21% of gun owning Baby Boomers report the same.
The ubiquity of social media and technology in today’s society brings up a new issue of exposure to gun culture that hasn’t existed in the past. Although this raises concerning issues about first exposure to guns, this study suggests social media and technology are not having a particularly strong effect on gun culture. Just 15% of Americans report that they often watch online videos focusing on guns, including 25% of gun owners and 11% of non-gun owners. As might be expected, though, Millennials are more likely to watch online gun videos (24%) than older Americans – 14% of Gen Xers and 8% of Baby Boomers.
Gun culture seems to be more pervasive on an in-person level. The vast majority of gun owners (76%) report that many people in their community use or own guns (compared to 45% of non-gun owners). Furthermore, for those who own guns, family and friends are reported as the most common driving factors in becoming part of that community. Three-quarters (77%) of gun owners cite family and friends as the method through which they first became familiar with guns. Then, when it came time to make the decision to buy a first gun, 65% of respondents report family and friends as the single most influential factor in their gun buying decision. Just 5% report film and TV as most influential, and just 3% report video games as such.
About the Study
These are findings from an Ipsos poll conducted July 10-12, 2018 on behalf of Newsy. For the survey, a sample of roughly 2,010 adults age 18+ from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii were interviewed online in English. The sample includes 589 gun owners and 1,421 non-gun owners.
The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’s online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Post-hoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.
Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online nonprobability sampling polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,010, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=4.0).
The poll also has a credibility interval plus or minus 4.6 percentage points for gun owners and 3.0 percentage points for non-gun owners.
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