Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Fascinating New Study on Gun Owners and Anger

Huffington Post

The new study compares rates of impulsive, angry behavior with access to guns. Swanson and his research colleagues asked 5,653 respondents to answer questions about their own behavior, and also asked these same research subjects if they owned and/or carried guns. The subjects lived in cities, suburbs and rural areas throughout the United States, and roughly one-third stated that they owned or had access to firearms, which seems to be what we consider the national firearm ownership rate to be today.
Every respondent was asked whether they had tantrums or angry outbursts; broke something in anger; lost their temper and got involved in physical fights. These are classic indicators of impulsive, angry behavior, with the tantrums/outbursts being the least serious, the fights being the most serious and the breaking of some object in between. Both the owners and non-owners of guns reported engaging in all three types of behaviors, with tantrums being three times as common as physical fights for both groups, and the percentage of gun owners and non-gun owners engaging in any of the three anger indicators being about the same.
What struck me as I read the survey results was that overall, there was not a great difference between gun owners and non-gun owners regarding to what degree they admitted engaging in any form of impulsive, angry behavior. Where the difference was clearly pronounced was among the 5 percent (roughly 290 people out of 5,600) who admitted to owning 11 guns or more, which was the only gun-owning group whose penchant for getting into fights was significantly higher than people who owned no guns at all. For that matter the percentage of the 11+ gun-owning group to get into physical altercations was substantially higher than gun folks who owned fewer guns.
Where the number of guns owned by individuals seemed to be a real risk issue can be found in the correlation between number of guns owned, engaging in any of the three anger indicators and carrying a gun outside the home. The good news in this survey was that less than 5 percent of the respondents reported that they walked around with a gun. The not-so-good news is that folks who owned six or more guns and carried a concealed weapon reported that they engaged in at least one of the three impulsive behaviors four times more frequently than persons who owned five or fewer guns.


  1. "Swanson joins other scholars who have called for more restricted access based on misdemeanors, DUI and other non-felonious behaviors, but I'm not convinced that research so far shows any link between angry impulses and actually using a gun. I'm not saying the connection isn't there; I'm saying that it remains to be found."

    Interesting that the "gun guy" is actually admitting that he isn't seeing any link. Especially considering that while the number of states adopting shall issue carry permit systems have been adopted in a large percentage of the states with the corresponding increase in permit holders. And with permit holders being more law abiding than the general public, it seems that that permit holders do a fine job controlling their impulses.

  2. Better reading comprehension please.

    Swanson isn't saying there isn't a link--just that the research hasn't been done.

    1. "Better reading comprehension please."

      That would be a good thing Jade. I was commenting on the columnist saying he didn't see a link. It was a direct quote from him. He refers to himself as the "gun guy".