Home Commentary Millennial Results Mixed on Guns, Carry

Millennial Results Mixed on Guns, Carry

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A new survey of 2300 college students has put another data point on the map of opinions regarding campus carry.

The survey — or at least, the authors of its subsequent news release from College Pulse — attempt to suggest college students are less likely than their forebears to support armed self-defense, particularly on campus.

“[J]ust 30% say the right to own guns is essential to their personal sense of freedom, compared to 41% who say it’s important but not essential and 28% who say it’s not important,” the report begins, before proceeding to say women are more likely than men to support gun control proposals and 36 percent of students would be very likely or somewhat likely to transfer colleges if campus carry were legalized.

Of course, as with any poll these results are subject to some interpretation and context. For starters, the same poll noted that 71 percent of these students said the right to own guns was either “important” or “essential” — including 65 percent of female respondents.

62 percent of students say they weren’t likely to consider transferring colleges if campus carry were allowed ⁠— 75 percent male, 53 percent female. 

A full half of respondents support concealed carry “most places” or “almost anywhere.” A full third of students favor allowing college professors and school administrators to carry on campus (such as Tennessee’s law).

With College Pulse being a relatively new player on the field, a review of more established polling organizations may also be in order to place these results in context. For example, the Pew Research Center’s polling of Generation Y and under-30 (different measurements of essentially the same demographic) show a years-long rise in support for firearm ownership and a steady decline in opposition. A full 43 percent of respondents under 30 responded that they own (or live with someone who owns) a gun — the highest-performing age group except for adults 65 and older.

Gallup results from 2015 indicate only half of America’s under-35 population endorses more gun control, while another Gallup poll showed two-thirds of millennials believe guns make them safer. According to CNBC, 26 percent of millennials have purchased a gun. (If this sounds like a small number, remember that the oldest possible age for millennials is 38.) Shooting sports in high school and college has been on the rise in recent years.

The phenomenon has journalists at Slate, the Washington Post and others puzzled that millennials seem more supportive of gun rights. And indeed, there’s data to which both sides can point as an intellectual victory. Clearly, America’s college students aren’t just accepting every political narrative they’re fed regarding campus carry. Suggesting America’s varsity population is choked with mental illness, alcohol, suicide and reckless irresponsibility is probably not the best means of currying favor with them. Given that the average age of US Army recruits is under 21, while eighty-four percent of marines recruits are twenty years or younger, clearly the American public doesn’t share the same contempt and distrust for college students as do professional anti-gun lobbyists.

In the end, it’s apparent the positions of Students for Concealed Carry are not in the radical minority. They’re mainstream, and due to tireless efforts from our members and supporters, they’re the law of the land in at least ten states.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t work still to do, but there’s far too much progress to be dismissed by a few cherry-picked numbers from one poll.

David Burnett
David Burnett is currently pursuing his JD, and serves as a Media Coordinator for Students for Concealed Carry.

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