This is a surprise.
Hansi Wang reports for NPR, Feb. 24, 2018, that high school students leading the calls for more gun control since the Parkland school shooting may give a misleading impression that millennials are more pro-gun control than older Americans.
But polls show that Americans under 30 are no more liberal on gun control than their parents or grandparents — despite diverging from their elders on the legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage and other social issues.
Gallup editor-in-chief Frank Newport that over the past three years, his polling organization asked the under-30 crowd if gun laws in the U.S. should be made more strict, less strict or kept as they are now. On average, people between the ages of 18 and 29 were only one percentage point more likely to say gun laws should be more strict than the overall national average of 57%.
Polling by the Pew Research Center last year found that:
- 50% of millennials, between the ages of 18 and 36, said that gun laws in the U.S. should be more strict — almost identical to the percentage among the general public.
- Even more surprising is the finding by Pew that on two gun control proposals — banning assault-style weapons and banning high-capacity ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds — millennials are actually more conservative. More millennials — both Republicans and Democrats — are more conservative when it comes to those bans compared to Generation X-ers, Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation.
Kim Parker, director of social trends research at Pew, observed that “What we’re hearing now in the immediate aftermath of Parkland might not be representative of what a whole generation feels.”
However, the teenaged high school activists who have been organizing since the Florida shooting are not millennials but are part of a separate group some call Generation Z. Pollsters generally don’t count the views of those under 18, so there probably won’t be national polling on this group until more of these young people are officially adults.
The poll findings surprised some members of Students for the Second Amendment, a club at the University of Delaware. Club treasurer Jordan Riger, 22, says after taking an NRA course on pistol shooting when she was 18, she’s seen firearms as tools for self-defense. But she thinks many of her millennial peers don’t: “We are living in a time right now where we’re seeing a lot more of these mass casualties. I think when people don’t know that much about firearms, when they see it on the news used in horrible fashion, that’s like all they associate it with.”
22-year-old Jeremy Grunden of Harrington, Del., who is president of Students for the Second Amendment at the University of Delaware, says he’s encouraged to hear that millennials are less likely to support banning assault-style weapons: “I base what we need off of what the military has. When it comes to … the Second Amendment, we’re supposed to be a well-armed and well-maintained militia and all that. Quite frankly, we need that and plus more.”
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