Majority of Americans Believes Guns Should Not Be Allowed In Public Spaces

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Julia Wolfson, PhD MPP Assistant Professor Department of Health Management and Policy University of Michigan School of Public Health Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Dr. Julia Wolfson

Julia Wolfson, PhD MPP
Assistant Professor
Department of Health Management and Policy
University of Michigan School of Public Health
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Gun violence is a serious public health problem that in 2015, the most recent year for which data is available, was responsible for more than 36,000 deaths. High profile shootings in public places such as schools, nightclubs and airports have focused national attention on the threat of gun violence in public places. Many states have recently passed new laws that expand the public places where people can legally carry guns either openly or concealed on their person.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response: In this study, we find that the majority of Americans, including most gun owners, support restricting the public places where legal gun owners can carry firearms. We asked about whether people think that people authorized to carry firearms should be allowed to carry them in nine public places (e.g. schools, restaurants, bars, government buildings, places of worship, college campuses). For each of the nine places we asked about, a majority of Americans expressed that legal gun owners should NOT be allowed to carry guns in those places. 25% of gun owners and 53% of non-gun owners expressed that guns should not be allowed to be carried in any of the locations we asked about.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: Public opinion about the public places where guns should be allowed to be carried is at odds with the current trend in state legislatures and with proposed federal legislation that would require ‘reciprocity’ for gun carrying. This proposed legislation, if passed, would mean that a gun owner whose state allows him or her to carry a gun in most places may be able to legally carry the gun in such places while in a state with more restrictive laws. Given the low public support for allowing guns to be carried in public places, this would go against the will of the majority of Americans.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: Increasing the locations where guns are legally allowed to be carried, particularly in schools, college campuses and in locations where alcohol is served (i.e. bars, sports stadiums) will likely increase the risk of firearm injuries. Future research should investigate this.

A public health approach to reducing deaths and injuries from gun violence includes changing social norms around guns and implementing policies and systems that reduce the likelihood that firearm injuries can occur. More research on effective communications strategies to build support for such laws and policies is needed. Research to understand the nuances of public opinion about guns and gun violence, and how to best advocate for a public health approach to gun violence is needed. 

MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Response: At least 2/3 of Americans feel that guns should not be allowed to be carried in some public places, including college campuses, schools, bars, sports stadiums, and places of worship. State and federal law should reflect public opinion and the current trend of loosening restrictions on where guns can be carried does not.

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