Since 2020, guns have been the leading cause of death in the United States for children and teens, according to the CDC. While the proliferation of gun access and gun violence often dominate national, state and local headlines, little has been done to understand the views young people have on these pervasive issues.
To address this gap, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, the Polarization & Extremism Research & Innovation Lab (PERIL) and SPLC came together to study young people’s access to guns, experiences with gun violence, feelings of safety and mental wellbeing, as well as their views on male supremacy, racial resentment and the Second Amendment.
Through mixed methods research, our U.S. Youth Attitudes on Guns Report provides groundbreaking insights into young people’s experiences with and views on guns and gun violence. Published in July 2023, this first report contains findings from a nationally representative survey of 4,156 Americans aged 14 to 30 and preliminary analysis focus groups interviews with 38 young people.
Since July 2023, we have conducted focus group interviews with an additional six young people, bringing our total number of qualitative study participants to 44. Published in February 2024, U.S. Youth Attitudes on Guns: Final Qualitative Focus Group Findings contains the complete analysis of our partnerships’ qualitative research. This complementary report offers unique and valuable insights into young Americans’ beliefs about when, where and for whom gun ownership is acceptable, as well as the environmental and societal factors that underpin feelings of uncertainty and fear.
The nature of these findings are unsettling but also provide a pathway to prevent and protect young people from those spreading harmful and manipulative narratives. The organizations highlighted in our accompanying resources have long been at the forefront of efforts to curb gun violence and provide care for impacted communities and individuals.
For more information on guns in the U.S., visit Everytown.
For more on building resilience to supremacist ideologies, visit PERIL.
Illustration by SPLC.