Finally, we have an answer to the burning question that everyone’s been asking for decades: are gun owners happier than those who don’t own firearms?
Researcher Terence Hill, an associate professor of sociology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Arizona, recently found that despite claims, gun owners aren’t any measurably happier than those who don’t own guns. Similarly, explains Hill, even though gun owners and gun society at large have often claimed that their guns make them feel safe, secure and protected – all feelings that correlate positively with feelings of happiness – in the case of gun ownership, the correlation stops short.
The study found instead that gun ownership was unrelated to feelings of happiness. “We want to understand gun owners’ subjective experiences,” Hill said. “We’re trying to understand when guns promote individual well-being, if at all, and that will add to the discussion of the role of guns in our society.”
In America’s strong gun culture, the study is helping researchers understand the relationship between gun ownership and personal well-being, which has been an area of study that has been severely lacking in recent years despite the ever increase swirl of debates in the US around gun ownership, and public safety and wellbeing. It was with special consideration to the rise in consumer products and advertising promising people better sleep and peace of mind that researchers conducted the study.
“Whenever people start to promote a certain type of lifestyle – like a type of exercise or a diet – public health is there to test it,” Hill said. “We think if anybody makes a claim about how guns are good for people’s health and wellbeing, those claims should be formally tested with empirical data. We need to test those claims like we would test any dietary or exercise recommendation.”
In response to potential claims and concerns of partisan criticism, Hill is quick to note that, “It’s possible that an individual can be comforted by their weapon and that their weapon can make them happier and less afraid, but we’re finding that that’s not so common that it can be observable at a population level,” continuing that, “We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with guns. We’re just saying that they may not be benefiting people’s personal lives in the way some people claim.”
– Clary Estes in The Happy Gun Owner? Research Suggests Otherwise