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American gun owners are more politically active: Study

ANI | Updated: Sep 02, 2018 21:17 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Sep 2 (ANI): While gun control continues to be a hot topic in America, the latest study has suggested that the country's gun owners in recent years have exhibited higher levels of political participation, not only in voting but also in donating money to candidates and contacting elected officials.
Abbie Vegter, one of the researchers, said, "Part of the reason majority opinions on gun control legislation aren't turning into policy is that gun owner are a very strong political group who hold a lot of weight and hold a lot of influence despite being a minority in American politics."
As a part of the recent study, the researchers examined the political behavior of gun owners versus non-gun owners in presidential election years from 1972 to 2012. Primarily, they found that gun owners have increasingly become more politically active during that time.
The findings could be key in determining why major gun control legislation in Congress has remained elusive, even after mass shootings such as Newtown in 2012 and others, even when a majority of people tend to support stricter gun laws.
"Our major conclusion establishes gun owners as a distinct social group, and we see how that social group influences their likelihood of participating in politics," Vegter said.
Much of political conversation surrounding guns tend to focus on large groups like the National Rifle Association's influence, but according to Vegter, the study's results paint a different picture.
"Only one in five gun owners belong to the NRA, so we think there is something else going on than just the NRA when it comes to mobilization," she added.
One explanation could be shifting reasons for owning a gun and how more people tend to see it as part of their identity.
"Owning a gun for hunting doesn't necessarily mean being a hunter is a core part of your identity," she said. "But owning a gun because you think it's an essential right guaranteed in the Constitution is more a part of your political identity. It's something more attached from the get-go to politics."
The researchers are still exploring what has driven this shift in attitude among gun owners. It is unclear whether it was in response to past gun control legislation at the state level or a reaction to certain candidates who were elected and had stronger views about gun control.
Conservatives seem to have done a better deal at realizing this trend and seeking to politically mobilize gun owners in campaign ads and other actions, said Vegter.
The study appeared in the American Political Science Association Annual Meeting. (ANI)