Millennials’ Not-So-Mysterious Love of Guns

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How the generations feel about gun control. (Photo: Pew)

How the generations feel about gun control. (Photo: Pew)

(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Max Slowik)

When it comes to gun politics, one demographic bucks the trend. Millennials, now a sizable part of the vote, are fairly divided when it comes to firearms policy and show about as much support for gun rights as older demographics.

In other words, today’s policy-makers can’t count on the youth vote on the matter of gun control as much as they have in previous years. According to the Pew Research Center, people aged 18-29 are split down the middle, where just 15 years ago the same demographic was in favor of gun control by more than three-quarters of the age group.

Millennial’s support for gun rights follows the trend that Americans of all age groups and demographics are more pro-gun than they were even ten years ago, but the shift is more dramatic than with other demographics. On top of that, it’s not a matter of left versus right, as Millennials, like previous generations of young voters, are largely in favor of Democratic party policy.

“Millennials remain the most Democratic age cohort: 51 percent of Millennials identify as Democrats or lean Democratic, compared with 35 percent who identify as Republican or lean Republican,” according to Pew Center polls.

“Poll data about views of gun control and specific gun-control measures are mixed, and responses vary depending how questions are asked,” writes Catherine Rampell for the Washington Post. “But statements about protecting gun rights generally elicit at least as much support from younger Americans as from older ones.”

Millennials’ support for gun rights extends to individual policy proposals, too, including greater opposition to gun bans, magazine capacity limits and mandatory waiting periods.

Rampell questions whether or not exposure to violent media, including video games, music and movies may have numbed young potential voters to gun violence and so they aren’t particularly swayed by the case for increased gun control.

But another explanation may be more straightforward: with violent crime on the constant decline since the ’90s, Millennials have been exposed to the least amount of real-world violence of all the generations, and why their demographic doesn’t tie gun ownership to gun violence. On top of that, Millennials are–statistically–far less prone to be violent.

“Today, murder rates in these areas are barely a third of what they were in the early 1990s—the starkest reflections of a nationwide decline in crime,” writes Neil Howe for Forbes. “While the public remains largely unaware of this drop, experts have been observing and discussing it for years. Though many theories have been considered, one explanation that is often missing from the debate is generational change: crime rates started to fall precisely when Millennials entered the prime age bracket for criminal activity.”

And as gun sales rise and the number of gun owners swell while violence continues to drop, Millennials have little reason to link guns with bloodshed.

If they’re so non-violent, why do Millennials want guns? The same reasons as anyone else, really.

Pop culture shouldn’t be entirely ruled out when it comes to making guns popular. It’s safe to say that the majority of Millennials have video game experience including shooters, the blockbuster movies of the video game industry.

It’s hard to dismiss the link between pop culture and gun culture, with companies like Battlefield Vegas offering gun rental packages like “the Counter-Strike Experience,” “the Platoon Experience” and “the G.I. Jane Experience.”

Today guns are an important part of product placement in all forms of entertainment media and have been a part for most Millennial’s lives. Good guy guns and bad guy guns alike, people want to own the firearms they fall in love with on-screen.

“After [“Die Hard”], everyone wanted a Glock handgun,” said gun store owner Wesley Morris to Fox News. “That movie literally made Glock in America; they weren’t popular before that. Hollywood can influence sales, and in this case, the ‘Glock 7’ used in the film was fictional. It doesn’t even exist.”

Like with guns, TV, movies and video games have often been blamed for causing violence–an argument that can’t be sold to a block of voters that grew up steeped in game culture, with decades of movies and TV shows available to them on demand.

Coincidentally, as the first Millennials began to hit the age of majority, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban sunset in 2004, and all the cool guns from popular games, TV and movies suddenly became more widely available, and more affordable.

In the decade since, gun culture boomed; for Millennials, the stage was set. From gun collecting, recreational shooting, and personal protection, Millennials’ gun wants and needs are no harder to understand than it is for older shooters’.

Now Millennials are the new crop of young adults, with the same concerns and responsibilities present to generations before them. Self-defense and concealed-carry are at the forefront, especially with Millennials starting families, or, at least, thinking about it.

Millennials’ desire to own guns is as civic as it is cultural. Theirs is the most peaceful generation in living memory, and one thing’s clear: they intend to keep it that way, by any means necessary.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • fee1776 December 27, 2015, 1:59 am

    LOL!!! Here is the irony of irony. In the past, youth did not play video games. Easy for media and public education to initially set their minds to support gun control, Today gun theme video games are a major seller. Silicon Valley may culturally hate guns, but they rely on software games that have gun themes to make huge profits. From early age, many young Americans are introduced to guns via simulation. I think it cuts down the effect of the anti gun theme they get from media and public education. Unless this business model changes, a significant number of future American youth will not oppose to gun ownership. Some polls I have seen atleast 50 percent of millenials plan to own a firearm.

  • D December 25, 2015, 10:49 am

    The “Glock 7” was in Die Hard 2, the bad guys gun. Supposedly an “all porcelain gun” that would defeat metal detectors. This bit of Hollywood fiction is what caused all of the outrage against polymer “stealth guns” in the early 90’s.

  • Ed December 25, 2015, 9:42 am

    An armed person is a proud person. Too many millennials have their dignity managed by some liberal group that says to belong you have to submit. While I think there is validity in the game exposure to firearms, some see firearm ownership as a path to true pride and the ability to manage their own dignity.

    Yes there is hope.

  • Jack L. December 25, 2015, 8:58 am

    I too was a Democrat. The Clintons made me a Republican. The Democrats forget what happened after their last gun ban. I hope American gun owners stand their ground and vote Republican.

    • Itsgettinglatefortherepublic December 25, 2015, 1:50 pm

      It is a very sad thing to say, but I honestly and whole heartedly believe we are too far gone at this point. I think it is Naive to believe any election is going to change anything. Ask yourself this, didn’t you (most of us on here) believe that we voted the Republicans into the control of the House and the Senate to STOP Obama and his agenda? They have done NOTHING but be a rubber stamp for him. If you (Rep. politicians) are so weak willed to act because your afraid to be called names than we truly have lost the Republic.
      I fear for my children, but I see the storm clouds of revolution on the horizon of this once great nation. We are nearing our very own 12/26/91 moment. Just as the Soviets collapsed under the weight of out of control debt and spending, we too will fall. Just like the Soviets , the Romans and every other former world power. Ask yourself another question, Obama will leave office with $21T in debt and our Republican leaders just gave him everything he wanted in the budget to fulfill his liberal socialist agenda. Where are the grown-ups in Washington? There is no sense of urgency because I believe they have come the the same conclusion that there is no way to pay the money back and they simply plan to glide the ship for the softest crash landing they can. Unfortunately, for them, their lack of integrity, corruption and greed will be exposed and they will be held accountable for being the traitors that they all are. There are very few exceptions in DC. I think Ted Cruz is one of them. That’s what the Rep. Establishment hates him. He will not capitulate and will now be bought. Yet, everyone loves Trump for some reason. People have such short memories. Trump on record has said he is absolutely Pro-Choic end he is for More Gun Control and he thinks we need higher taxes. In what world does any of that make him a Republican. I can promise you. I feel it in my soul. The man is a Clinton plan. Just like Ross Perot before him. He is owned by the Clinton’s. Don’t take my word for it. It’s all over the net. You just need to look. This one example at the link below was put together by the bush campaign (smart although we need no more Bush’s)

      http://youtu.be/IgKWPcpwFDs

      On getting caucus voters: “I lived in New York City, in Manhattan, all my life. Ok? So my views are a little bit different than if I lived over in Iowa.”

      On abortion: “I’m very pro-choice. I’m pro-choice in every respect.”

      On health care: “As far as single-payer, it works in Canada. It works well in Scotland.”

      On taxes: “The fact is 25 percent for high income people…It should be raised substantially.”

      On Hillary Clinton: “Hillary Clinton I think is a terrific woman. I mean I’m a little biased because I’ve known her for years.” “I know her very well, she’s very talented.” “I live in New York, she lives in New York, and I’ve known her and her husband for years and I really like them both a lot.”

      On why he is a Republican: “I have no idea.”

      On what party he aligns with: “In many cases, I probably identify more as a Democrat.”

      • SGT-N December 26, 2015, 11:31 am

        Interesting theories. As it stands, the US has burdened itself with more debt than there is money in the World, insolvency is around the corner. So have a buffoon, who is really a Democrat, sink the Republican Party, which once stood for fiscal responsibility. The Demorats steal the election because nobody outside a small demographic will vote for the buffoon. Initiate gun control with a swipe of a pen on an unconstitutional order with dreams of destroying the Republic because an unarmed public cannot stop the coup. Renounce the debt held by the Chinese and order businesses to restart making all products, to include “green” ones by the ton, in the US with union labor. Unionize rest of the job market by fiat. Bingo, bango, bongo, a police state to rival the newly bankrupt Chinese because the Democrats know rest of the world won’t rush to safe those polluted, Commie bastards

        One thing that the Democrats would miss is the fact that the above plan would be a recipe for civil war. By any definition, the attempt to disarm the populous by executive order is unconstitutional. The Armed Forces, if they honor their oaths verbatim, will protect the Constitution from these new domestic enemies, and the legal militias under state law will use their arms protected by the 2nd Amendment to help. Led by Vets, who many like myself do not believe we were ever relieved from our oaths when we left the military, these legal militias will help battle the Alphabet Agencies’ illegal and unconstitutional quasi-Armies, which will be weakened by defections of Patriotic former service members. The coup attempt will be quashed in the manner envisioned by our Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, a military government may need to be established until such time as a new Constitutional civilian government can be reconstituted. The other, and more Constitutional one, would have the States use their 10th Amendment rights to govern until a new, but weakened, federal government can be put in place.

        Worse yet, World War III could break out with unleashed terrorism. Russia and China have had a long running border dispute which Putin would love to exploit if China was weakened. Also, China can’t lose face by the above proposed Democratic coup and would likely attack our interests and Allies in the Pacific and Persian Gulf. With US turned inward, the terrorists/Arab nations will attack Isreal with intent to nuke, maybe with North Korean and Chinese weapons, her until the rubble bounces. Meanwhile, Europe, weakened by its gun policies and disarmament of its militaries, will have to contend with terrorist attacks, with both foreign and domestic actors, as well as a new Balkan War. Africa will descend into flames driven by long simmering border disputes, tribal genocide, and terrorism. Rest of the world will also be embroiled in racial/religious cleansing, border disputes, and of course, terrorist attacks

        PS: I’m not a conspiracy theory type of person. I’m an attorney who was forced into early disability retirement from my appointed position at a state appellate court. I’m also a Vet with a deep sense of duty to my country. I ran this “sand table” exercise to its extreme to determine what a worst case political scenario in the US could do to our nation and the world. God help us if any of this scenario would come to pass

  • Bartt December 25, 2015, 8:43 am

    Stupid… get your facts together. John McClane used a Beretta 92F in the movie. He used a 92FS in the second movie.

    • Rob December 25, 2015, 10:46 am

      The bad guy’s gun is the one being referenced. It was in fact a first gen G17.

      • jsmith6 December 25, 2015, 11:36 am

        I am not sure where a Glock was shown prominently in “Die Hard.” Hans Grueber had a H&K P7 I believe and the remaining bad guys had MP5s and Steyr AUGs. In the remaining movies McClain still carried a Beretta and I think in the third movie Simon Gruber had a H&K P9S. Not sure in the series where they popularized Glocks but Ibcould be incorrect.

        • ejharb January 13, 2016, 12:05 pm

          In die hard 2 a bad guy used a glock to try to kill mcclain.it was fictionalized as a glock7 detector proof pistol to take advantage of the old wives tale about glock7 being undetectable on xray or metal detectors

  • Rick S December 25, 2015, 8:21 am

    Most Demcrats are anti gun lovers, I’am making the proposal for everyone to change their political affiliation to Republican. I have been a Democrat for over 40 years and I’am embarrassed by their stupidty . Most Repubicans are pro gun and we need to get more of them in office. This is easy to do and will shock the Democrat party.
    Spread this to as many forums as you can …………

    • Rob (not the other one) December 25, 2015, 12:13 pm

      Rick,
      Keep in mind that both political parties are owned by the same group of people (watch the documentary “Shadow Ring”).
      It would be better if all would change their political affiliation to “no party affiliation” on their voter registration.
      That will keep the politicians guessing until after any election and no more voter manipulation..

  • Dan S. December 25, 2015, 7:40 am

    Maybe there is hope for this generation after all.

  • Dan December 25, 2015, 7:30 am

    Maybe there’s hope for us after all.

  • Dan December 25, 2015, 7:28 am

    Maybe there’s hope for us after all.

  • Dan December 25, 2015, 7:27 am

    Maybe there’s hope for us after all.

  • Mark N. December 13, 2015, 12:27 am

    I can vouch for the great interest, having to millennials of my own. Yes, my son played FPS games, but my daughter played very little. My son was always interested in guns, but my daughter was not. I think it was more the competitiveness between them in shooting BB guns and air rifles that led to .22s and onward to anything that goes bang. Both are gun owners (courtesy of dad’s generosity) and enjoy going to the range. Both have introduced the recreation to others.

    • matthew December 25, 2015, 3:12 am

      True. I can honestly say i love and invest in distance shooting and surplus weapons because of all those video games.

  • Justin Opinion December 12, 2015, 7:34 pm

    Shouldn’t that be the “Pew-Pew” Research Center? Just sayin’….

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