In the immortal words of George Benson, the children are our future. The older crowd will inevitably die off, and the kids who are growing up now will inevitably replace them in everything from politics to butcher shops. In terms of firearms, it seems the reports of the death of American gun ownership have been greatly exaggerated. According to a new poll from American University, 60 percent of young people growing up today want to buy a gun . . .

Despite experiencing a post-Columbine world, 60 percent of high school and college students are considering owning a gun in the future, according to a national poll.

One-third of young people reported growing up with a gun in the household and 36 percent reported being “very worried” about gun violence. However, nearly 40 percent of participants planned to own a gun when they have their own household, and an additional 20 percent were contemplating it.

There are two things driving this. First and foremost, Call of Duty and its competitors are the best recruiting tools the firearms industry has ever had. I’ll freely admit it — video games got me to my first rifle club meeting in college. It was the gateway drug to the world of guns in which I’ve become fully immersed. And with the increased popularity of those games, I have no doubt that more people are becoming interested in the same way.

The poll bears this out, with the following as one of the key findings:

High school students who regularly play video games for more than 4 hours per day are 50 percent more likely than those who do not typically play video games to report plans to own a gun. The results are similar among college students.

BAM! Proof. Kinda.

The second thing driving this: we’re returning to the normal, natural percentage of people who enjoy guns.

We’re seeing the Kennedy generation becoming less influential; an entire generation of people with the indelible childhood memory of seeing JFK’s assassination and immediately associating guns with people being sad. It’s an emotional response that is extremely difficult to get over and the fewer people who remember it, the more guns return to being the normal, everyday objects they are.

Emotion versus logic is the current fight we’re waging. And the fewer people who have a hard and fast emotional response, the more we can win people over with logic.

82 Responses to Poll: 6082 of Young Americans Contemplating Buying a Gun

  1. I didn’t even really get into guns until my early 20’s, I’m 26 now. Have taken quite a few of my friends who had never shot out to show them it’s not evil as Huffpo would have you believe. It’s also about self-suffiency, I can handle my own defense if need be.

    • I’ve taken loads of friends shooting. It’s amazing how many of them were honestly terrified of the gun when I put it in there hand (which is better than being reckless with it though). After an hour or two at the range though, they tended to convert. Currently I’ve got about 60% of my friends who went to the range with me to buy their first gun (if they felt ready). I’m working on the other 40%.

  2. That’s it? Sad.

    Still, guess it’s better than nothing. Although those who buy a gun because they want to be cool or because they think they’ll be rocking it like CoD aren’t exactly guaranteed to be champions of the 2A. My generation still has a lot of indoctrination to rid their minds of.

    • If anything, I think the popularity of shooter games shows the population, and the younger crowd in general, has an inherent fascination with guns. If existing gun owners can step in and mold this into responsible gun ownership, we have a large untapped group of possible gun owners.

    • i play a lot of shooting games (COD, MOH) but that has NOTHING to do with my love of guns. i kinda don’t want people who are buying guns cuz of video games to be buying them. i love ruger revolvers, 10 22’s, maverick 88 shotguns. where i live the guns in video games are not even legal.

  3. I’m 24. Most people I know from college in Massachusetts know very little about guns and their information does seem to come from media and video games. I say, foster competitive shooting programs (with black rifles, not just shotguns) at universities in New England. That way, students would get a realistic perspective and have a prayer of differentiating their barrel shroud from their shoulder thing that goes up.

    Don’t worry, I reside in a free state now.

  4. I shot a little in my early teens in boy scouts…shotguns and .22s. I play video games (not daily or for 4 hours at a time). I didnt own my first gun until I was 23, roughly a year ago. I now own four (hopefully 5 soon if I can find what I want in stock).

    • For most folks, especially those going to college or doing a stint as enlisted military, 22-23 is when fully independent adulthood starts these days. Sounds like you’re off to a roaring start!

  5. “Call of Duty and its competitors are the best recruiting tools the firearms industry has ever had”

    I seem to recall that around the time the “Army of One” slogan came out, the US Army was promoting (an on-line?) video game much like the Call of Duty format games.
    Curious, I registered for notifications but do not recall hearing back. I’m pretty sure this was a project of the US Army.
    Curious if anyone else remembers this game being promoted.

    • I never played it, but it did actually come out. Since it was more realistic (you could get severely dead in an instant for a minor screw up) it was considered less fun and not as popular as games with more hollywood-sizzle. Still, I understand the Army got a lot of recruits out of it.

      It’s called America’s Army.

      • I sometimes joke with one of my friends while we’re playing xbox about that very thing.
        “I hope they added something to basic indoc” I would say. “The first thing they should tell today’s recruits that there is absolutely no respawning in real life.”

    • It also didn’t help that, shockingly, many of the players were completely jerks.

      Gamers? Playing online? Being jerks? Naaaaah. -_-

      • Back in the day, I was a top-100 ranked Quake player. (It helped that I worked for a company that paid me to spend at least 2-3 hours/day playing online.) Since then, I have had little to no interest in online multiplayer for two reasons:

        * culture – astonishingly awful behavior from players with no social skills

        * balance – many online-multiplayer games are tilted, subtly or heavily, to favor players who invest many hours in leveling up, so good luck competing if you have other interests such as a family and a job

  6. This is the first instance I’ve heard of someone connecting the drop off in gun ownership to JFK. Do you have any reference to support that assertion? Why JFK and not the Vietnam protest movement, et cetera, in general?

    • That’s exactly what did it in New England. According to my uncle, JFK was like their son. the Kennedy’s had been royalty for 15+ years before. When he was shot everything changed.

    • I don’t have any proof, but a lot of the Kennedy Generation was also drafted and sent to Viet Nam. May have made us a little gun shy.

      • I’m from the next generation down, but it seems to me the whole Vietnam experience would have been a whole lot worse minus the gun.

  7. We, as a nation, have to survive the Boomer generation’s slide into the grave.

    They’re going to caterwaul, filibuster and pontificate the whole six feet down before we start tossing dirt in on them, but the good news is, the most solipsistic generation in American history is merely mortal after all.

    • It’s rude and insulting to say, but I’ve thought it for years: The Greatest Generation in American history…followed immediately by The Worst.

      (By the way Dyspeptic, I love that you described them as solipsistic. About as accurate a word as I can think of.)

      • “The Greatest Generation” wasn’t followed by the Boomers. It was followed by the “Silent Generation.” They had better employment opportunities than the Boomers. They received Soc Sec benefits with a more favorable formula than most Boomers will. They and “The Greatest Generation” supported the Vietnam War in greater percentages than the Boomers. They were the ones who sold the Boomers their Rock n Roll and The Pill.

    • I’m embarrassed to say I’m a member of that generation and I share Dyspeptic’s point of view. I hope the ones that follow us can right the ship before it’s too late. Not that it stops me from doing whatever I can now.

      My gun club has an active junior program, and we have some great kids in it. That gives me hope.

      • Agreed. Not to be rude, but I get really steamed every time someone of the baby boomer generation calls my generation the “me” generation. The fact that the irony is lost on them has caused quite a few to get an earful from me about proper family and financial responsibility.

  8. Kids are showing more critical thinking skills and logic lately. Ever sice Newtown and Colorado I have heard more college age and high school kids clamoring to get their concealed carry like it’s the new drivers license.

    • Very accurate, I’ve noticed a distinct shift in our class size and age groups for concealed carry here in MI (Younger students, and PACKED classes)

      • My first realization coming out of college that the world I was entering was the same as the one I read about in American history pushed me to purchase my first gun. A second realization that the police were humans too pushed me to get my concealed carry. My third realization that Obama might be re-elected pushed me to get my AR-15.

        Edit: posted this in the wrong area, oh well.

  9. I’m 27, 3 shotguns, 4 rifles, 2 muzzleloaders, 2 semi-auto pistols, and one wheel gun. Maybe it’s just KY or the circle I run in, but I have a hard time coming up with someone who doesn’t own at least one gun. Buying your first handgun is like a right of passage, as I got one the very day I turned 21. I remember shooting at a young age, and been hooked ever since. I just can’t imagine being without a firearm, or why people are so afraid of them, as I tend to be nervous if I don’t have one within reach. Kids aren’t as dumb as adults wished they were.

  10. remember when you were a teenager:
    drugs are bad? who’s got the papers?
    sex is bad? let’s do it.
    school is required? let’s cut.
    can’t drive till 16? steal mom’s car when she’s sleeping.

    with all this ‘guns are bad’ stuff. it might just create an opposing view for rebellious youth. That’s not all that bad.

  11. It actually took me a bit to get into guns…always liked them…just never bought them.

    Shot with some friends about 3 years ago and down the slippery slope. I started with two hand me down bolt action rifles and in a single year i ive bought 5 guns including an ar15. Best thing was I found uspsa and 3 gun. That really cranked the wick to full. My toys now have purpose (competetion and practice) and Ive converted a mess of guys at work through that medium.

    I think the competition side of things is great because non gun people can now put you into perspective…your a competitive shooter and not a “gun nut”. They don’t fear you the same as if you told them you have guns for home defense or stopping govt tyranny.

  12. “We’re seeing the Kennedy generation becoming less influential; an entire generation of people with the indelible childhood memory of seeing JFK’s assassination and immediately associating guns with people being sad.”

    I think that statement is generally true. However, I was 14 when JFK was assassinated, and I went deer hunting that next weekend. I knew that it wasn’t the gun’s fault that the president was dead. Common sense has haunted me all my life.

  13. I have been shooting since I was 5, started with a red rider, then a .410 and .22, 12 gauge and that’s before I turned 18, video games didn’t influence me into buying a gun, but they did influence the type of firearms I wanted to buy. Still would love a springfield m14 and a springfield garand…

  14. Kennedy’s death only haunted those of us who had a high opinion of him. And watch how fast the left embraces censorship once they realize video games may be the gateway drug for gun ownership amongst the young.

    And I think that 60% figure for the younger people is too low. I’ve met a lot of kids, male and female both, that are getting into guns. Many of these don’t come from gun owning families. And that’s in the left leaning San Francisco bay area.

    And for clarification, when I say kids, I’m talking the under 35 crowd.

  15. I’m 20. In the past 15 years people around my age have grown up with 9/11, terrorist propaganda tapes including beheadings, london and madrid bombings, atlanta bombings in ’96, USS cole bombing, shoe bomber, underwear bomber and countless others. Unfortunately, that is close to par for the course. All of the wars we’ve been in the past century, all of the embassy and olympic shootings and bombings in the 70s and 80s, 50+ years of the Cold War and the threat of nuclear war . But the difference is we’ve also grown up with the internet. We’re fluent in it. So when I start reading about some random WWII fact, I follow links and end up reading about the holocaust, and the firebombing in Dresden, and Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and scud missiles in Iraq. literally all of the atrocities that we know of are a click away. We have no illusions of life being all sunshine and rainbows. Some are in the “it won’t happen to me” mindset, but they know it’s in the realm of possibility. We realize that, if we want the white picket fence, we need to be behind it with an AR or (hopefully) an M4 one day.

  16. I believe it was Randy Watson and Sexual Chocolate from the movie Coming to America who said children are our future.

  17. I was a little over 2 years old when that wacko shot JFK; pretty much the same age as John-John. I got a Daisy BB gun when I was 5, a single shot Savage .410 when I was 10, and an Remington 870 20 gauge when I was 15. I learned of carnage by shooting animals (quail, pheasant, rabbits, squirrels) while still young and was taught to respect and honor those animals who gave their lives to grace our dinner table. My son, at 14 and my daughter at 19 have been taught the same values. They both own their own guns and I pray I have passed on to them that life is sacred and never to be taken lightly while still installing in them to NEVER be a victim; to walk proudly and confidently yet back quickly away from dangerous situations while preparing to protect themselves from those who would do them harm. I worry about them. I taught/teach them to drive by pointing out dangerous situations and precautions to take to lessen the dangers. I hope I have done the same thing with firearms.

  18. I’m nearly 25. my dad, who isn’t even really a gun guy, took me shooting when I was kid and t hat set the hook. he gave me his 2 guns when I was 21, the next year I bought my 1911 and the year after that my AR. I recently talked to a guy a year or two younger than me who I think I convinced to sell me his spare ak and some 5.56 for a fair price. the gun culture is alive and well in the under 30 group, and I’m doing my best to propagate that further. I have some friends who are hopelessly lost to the left, but for th he most part even my left leaning friends are on our side of the fence as far as the 2A goes.

  19. This is what gun control is trying to stop — a new generation of lawful gun owners and shooters. And they know it works. Since the Massachusetts’ Gun Control Act of 1998, gun ownership has dropped over 80% in the state… a truly staggering decline. (It’s starting to creep back up, even in spite of the regulations.)

  20. I couldn’t own a gun, cause I live in Germany and I’m no hunter or competetive shooter, but video games influenced my views about guns. I knew everyone should have one since i was 8, a few years before I started playing video games, but video games got me interested in guns more deeply. While playing most of them, I got a brief taste of something important: it’s not the gun, it’s the one with his finger on the trigger who’s important (ever played CS against a real pro? I did :/ ). Means: A gun won’t replace missing skills. I hope every young american, who got his first contact with guns via video games, will keep that in mind.
    Anyway, I hope more and more young americans will get interested in guns. If I manage to immigrate, I will do the best I can to get my kids interested in guns. A civil right nobody cares about will die silently and without notice …

      • in sweden, i would only be allowed to own an gun, not to carry (afaik). this requires a special permit, which normally isn’t granted to civilians.
        whatever … sweden is memberstate of the EU, so it’s not an option for me to move there. i wanted to get as far away from the eu as possible, cause the EU is endangering many other important rights and installing undemocratic super-state-structures (not to mention the selfmade economic problems).
        the only promising state (exept from the us) is switzerland, which would be my choice if getting to the us turns out to be impossible. but its surroundet by the EU, no very good second choice …

  21. I got my first gun, a double barrel 20 gauge at 13. I got my first rifle for deer/elk/bear/cougar rifle at 15 when I was deemed big enough to clean and carry my own big game although I found out that it takes more than one person to handle an elk. The shotgun at 13 was a Christmas gift. I had to earn the money for the rifle.

    I came to guns through hunting. To me it was the hunt that was important not the guns although I always liked a well made guns just as I like a CFO III or a nice Sage. I don’t expect gamers to know what those are except maybe a few that live in one of the 11 western states.

  22. Theres one side of me that is optimistic and another that is pessimistic.

    sticking to optimism, i believe the current millenium generation will wake the F^ck up from a multigenerational slumber that started after the end of World War II.

    They have been lied to all of their lives (education guarantees a good job) and grew up with a distant memory of things the way they were before 2001 (when america entered a death spiral into endless war and imperialist paranoia). They are entering a job market that is unparalleled in its competitiveness and a world that is literally changing at lightning pace. Throughout their childhood they have been sold that they can do and be anything they want, only to find out that poverty and debt are the only companions that await them, with a state that acts like a occupying army and economic system that is teetering on the brink of collapse.

    and they are PISSED.

    When a generation such as the millennials is sold expectations only to find a empty treasure coffer, revolutions get started. Who can blame them? many balk at their self centeredness and inexperience, but i see them as a powder keg. Which age group do you think is toppled regimes in Lybia and Egypt??? the former Eastern Bloc???

    to be frank, the generations before them are too indoctrinated to make any significant changes. they still believe in the american dream. The youth? they generally no longer believe in it and have nothing to lose by tearing the country apart.

    I weep for the republic.

  23. I’m 25 and a gun owner and I have my concealed carry permit and carry everyday. I’ve grown up in a world where horrible things are happening all the time and I know that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you live something can happen.

  24. I played with water pistols and BB guns in my youth, as modern video games were not around yet. Chuck Norris and Stallone were my childhood heroes. What else can a kid ask for?? =)

    • And now you’d be expelled from school for pointing a water pistol at a classmate or suspended for pointing “gun shaped fingers” (just what some hippie liberal teacher would say) at a friend. I climbed trees for fun, played cops and robbers (yeah I’m a ripe old 30), played sports, broke a ton of bones, had a lot of fun. We all grew up fine. Now it’s…ugh, my cousin is a third grade teacher and the stuff she tells me about (the active shooter drills, the parents, etc.) makes me cringe.

  25. I’m not even close to being anti-gun since I own several firearms and have multiple carry permits but this “key finding” that the author of this study mentions really caught my eye. It’s in the actual poll, which no one seems to have read.
    “About 50 percent of young people who self-identify as ‘depressed,’ ‘stressed out,’ and/or have ‘difficulty making friends’ plan to have a gun in their household.”

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