Thesis: Gun Control Is One of Today

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Gun control is one of today's more divisive political issues, and people on both sides of the issue have stereotypes about what types of people support and oppose gun control. Increasingly, the question of gun control has become politicized, with the far right asserting that Republicans are the party for gun rights and Democrats advocate gun control. However, that assertion is a gross oversimplification of the reality of today's gun control debate. Gun control is a more complex issue than simply party loyalty, and people support or oppose gun control for a variety of different reasons. Therefore, this research will endeavor to determine what leads people to favor gun control. It will do so by investigating the relationships between: political party and one's position on gun control, educational level and one's position on gun control, gender and one's position on gun control, religious preference and one's position on gun control, military experience and one's position on gun control, and age and one's position on gun control.

Theoretically, because gun control has been seen as a liberal ideology, one would anticipate that those groups that have been most frequently associated with liberal causes would be most highly in favor of gun control. Therefore, one would expect that Republicans, considered the conservative party, would oppose gun control and that Democrats would support gun control. More highly educated people generally tend to have more liberal political beliefs; therefore one would expect that more highly educated people would support gun control and that less educated people would oppose gun control. Women and men are represented roughly equally in both conservative and liberal political ideologies; however women are seen as less violent than men. As a result, one would expect to find that women are more strongly in favor of gun control than men. Given that both Protestants and Catholics have religions that advocate non-violence, one would expect to find that they are in favor of gun control. Because Judaism does not take a strong anti-violence position, one would not expect to find Jews favoring greater gun control. Because military personnel have experience with weapons, including the types of weapons generally targeted by advocates of gun control, one would expect them to oppose gun control. Age is another factor that one might expect would influence a respondent's position on gun control. Because the likelihood that one has been impacted by gun violence grows with age, one would expect to find that support for gun control grows with age.

Data Analysis

Party Affiliation

As hypothesized, Democrats were more likely to favor stricter gun control and Republicans were more likely to oppose gun control. However, while statistically significant, the differences between the two different political parties were much less dramatic than one might be led to believe. First, though 5.5% of Republicans believed that it should be easier to buy a gun, a far greater percentage, 42.9%, supported a stricter gun control policy. The majority of Republicans, 51.6%, believed that gun control policy should remain the same way. Because there are some restrictions on gun ownership, the reality is that the vast majority of Republicans, 94.5%, favor some type of gun control. This is a sharp contrast to the politicized images that most people have about gun control, which would lead the uninformed observer to the belief that Republicans want to abolish any type of gun control.

The results for the Democrats did much more to verify the hypothesis and reinforced party stereotypes. 69.9% of Democrats favored a stricter gun control policy, and 28.9% of Democrats believed that America's gun control policy should remain as is. A very small percentage, 1.2%, of Democrats believed that it should be easier to purchase a gun. Therefore, 98.8% of Democrats favor gun control, with the majority wanting stricter gun control. If one considers increasing restrictions on gun control the only measure of whether one supports gun control, then it appears that the Democrat party is rightfully considered the party that supports gun control. However, if one considers the current restrictions on gun ownership, the difference between the parties, while statistically significant, is not nearly as large as one might believe simply by looking at media portrayals of the two major parties' positions.

Political independents appeared to split the difference between the two major parties. A slight majority of independents, 53.5%, favored a stricter gun control policy. 43% of independents believed that America's gun control policy should remain as it is, and 3.5% of them believed that it should be easier to purchase a gun. What this made clear is that independents do not appear to declare that affiliation based on their positions on gun control. Instead, because the percentage of independents advocating each position is roughly the average of the two major political parties, one can see that independents include people who advocate and who oppose gun control.

Education

As expected, support for stricter gun control increases with educational level. However, the information on the correlation between education and gun control does not support the position that the higher one's educational level, the more likely one is to support any form of gun control. On the contrary, more highly educated people are also more likely to oppose gun control than less highly educated people. First, regardless of educational level, the majority of people favored a stricter gun control policy. 51% of people who attained only a high school education or lower, 54.4% of people with a college degree or some college, and 72.6% of people with a higher degree favored stricter gun control policies. However, as educational level increased, so did the likelihood that one would oppose any form of gun control. 3.4% of people who attained a high school education or lower believed it should be easier to purchase a gun, but that percentage moved to 3.7% when viewing people with some college or a college degree. Most startling was the fact that 4.7% of people with a higher degree believed it should actually be easier to purchase a gun. What this study made clear is that the higher the educational level, the less likely one was to be content with the current gun control policy. While 45.6% of people with a high school or lower education and 42% with a college degree or some college supported the current gun control policy, only 22.8% of people with a higher degree believed that the current gun control policy should remain unchanged.

Age

The author hypothesized that age would have a tremendous impact on whether or not one supported gun control; however the strength of that impact surpassed even the author's expectations. Subjects were divided into several different groups, 18-21, 22-25, 26-35, 36-65, and 66 and up. Generally, as people aged they supported greater gun control. The percentage of people who believe that it should be easier to buy a gun declined with each age group. For example, 44.6% of people ages 12-21, 51.3% of people ages 22-25, and 59.5% of people ages 36-35 supported greater gun control. However, in the 36-65 bracket, people dipped in their support for greater gun control, down to 57.4%, and those numbers were not fully recovered by the 66 and over bracket, which only had 58.2% support for greater gun control.

However, the percentage of people who believe that it should be easier to buy a gun generally declined with each age group; however the relationship was not straightforward. 7.4% of people ages 18-21 believed it should be easier to buy a gun, but there was huge drop to the next age group, where only 1.6% of people ages 22-25 believed it should be easier to buy a gun. That percentage doubled for the next age group, with 3.3 of 26-35-year-olds advocating laxer gun control laws, and 36- to 65-year-olds continued to show an increase in the number of people supporting the position that it should be easier to buy a gun. However, the next age group demonstrates a significant drop-off; only .6% of people over the age of 65 believe it should be easier to buy a gun. Because the 35-65 age group is so large and the difference between that group and the senior group of over 65 is so dramatic, it would be interesting to break that group down into smaller subsections to determine at what age people's attitudes towards gun control seem to shift.

Most of the age groups remained near the average of 39.9% in favor of current gun policy, though there were statistically significant differences between the averages and between the groups. For example, 48% of people aged 18-21 were in favor of keeping current gun policies, the highest percentage of any age group. There was only a slight change in the next age group, as 47.1% of 22- to 25-year-olds favored the current gun control policies. However, there was a dramatic change in the next age group, as only 37.2% of 26-35 years olds, the lowest of all the groups, favored current gun control policies. There was virtually… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Gun Control Is One of Today.  (2009, May 13).  Retrieved November 14, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gun-control-one-today/71281

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"Gun Control Is One of Today."  Essaytown.com.  May 13, 2009.  Accessed November 14, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/gun-control-one-today/71281.