gun owner happiness
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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

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128 COMMENTS

  1. Try studying victims of red flag laws. I’ll bet there’s a correlation between unhappiness and no guns for those whose property has been taken without due process.

    • Conversely, I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that those involved in a defensive gun use, especially one that fended off a violent attack, are MUCH happier because of that gun.

      • Doubt anybody’s “happy” about having to shoot somebody, or that they got into that situation in the first place. Probably relieved they were prepared, but I imagine it’s a pretty stressful situation all the way around, stress doesn’t equal happiness.

        • I postulate that if one is turned into the past tense that individual’s Happiness quotient becomes a null value.
          But what do I know?

        • Bet their happy they are safe and not dead. What do you think. I know, they don’t care anymore, but their family left behind is probably very unhappy. Owning a gun doesn’t make me happy but a successfull hunt does. Especialy when I am enjoying a wonderful bowl of deer meat chili. The absolutelt best chili in the world.

      • Right on, Brothers-in-Arms. I have never had to defend myself, my wife and family, or anyone else who is being attacked by a lawless thug, with a firearm, but I am beyond happy at having the right to do so, should the occasion demand.

      • THINK about it.

        In EVERY Slasher/Abduction movie you have ever seen, wouldn’t the protagonist have been a LOT better off if he/she had a firearm and was trained to use it?

        “Happiness is a warm gun…”

        The Beatles

    • She could always try Doctor Rudy’s guaranteed weight loss diet. Read the following carefully:

      EAT LESS!

      I’ll repeat it for those who didn’t understand the first time:

      EAT LESS!

    • 10 bucks says terrance hill is a democrat, any takers. They can twist anything to fit the view they want pushed forward. I was happier than a possum eating grapes when I bought my first deer rifle, 1972 Remingtin ADL in 270 Winchester caliber with a 4x scope. Loved that gun. Proud of that gun. Felt good all over to hold it.

    • One of these days, I’m going to Dallas and blowing $14k on a Heym Express in .404 Jeffery. I will not care if anyone else thinks it’s too pricy, and I will be VERY happy with my purchase.

  2. Having things won’t make you happy. Not having things you didn’t want in the first place won’t make you unhappy. Wanting what you cannot have will make you unhappy.

    • I’m getting a super dose of deja vu reading all these comments. I could swear I’ve seen this article and all the responses before, especially yours. Weird way to start the day.

      …or the Matrix is glitching…

        • Old articles suddenly re-animating as if new, garbage spam not evaporating in short minutes…

          …a disturbance in the Matrix, or the Force? 😉

    • Shire-man,

      I think you are expressing the same sentiment that occurred to me.

      I am confident that many/most people who do NOT own firearms for self-defense have never seriously considered how vulnerable they truly are. Thus, they are blissfully ignorant and relatively happy in the overall scheme of things.

      I am also confident that many/most people who DO own firearms for self-defense recognize how truly vulnerable they are (which would make them unhappy) and yet they take comfort in their ability to truly defend themselves (which makes them happy). Thus, firearm owners are relatively happy in the overall scheme of things as well.

      Thus it is a wash: people who do NOT own self-defense firearms are about equally happy as people who DO own self-defense firearms. The big difference is that people who do not own self-defense firearms are happy because of ignorance and deception whereas people who own self-defense firearms are happy because of knowledge and truth. Which one is a more noble situation?

      • “I am confident that many/most people who do NOT own firearms for self-defense have never seriously considered how vulnerable they truly are.”

        Really?

        Violent crime stats remain on a downward trend (so far). Logically, it would seem the vulnerability likewise is on a downward trend. If violent crime is less each year, how could vulnerability remain static, or increase?

        If one measures “vulnerable” by a standard that concludes a single possible incident in a lifetime renders one vulnerable, perhaps a case can be made the non-gun owners are “vulnerable”, as are gun owners. We have no reliable evidence that the likelihood of a gun owner being attacked is notably lower than for a non-gun owner.

        The present, and enduring, conundrum is that with falling violent crime rates, more people should be armed. To prove that it is gun ownership (indeed, open/concealed carry) driving the crime rate down, we must somehow quantify, and then remove all other factors influencing the violent crime rate.

        As a gun owner and 2A “absolutist”, I find the claim that rising gun ownership drives crime downward to be an indefensible position. Which is simply because I see the logical breakdown. If I see it, any random gun-grabber can see it. As I result, I don’t discuss gun ownership as a general deterrent to crime.

  3. The same studies show that losing a leg doesn’t have much long term impact on overall happiness. They obviously won’t mind if I relieve them of that burden.

  4. America desperately needs a federally funded study of happiness level in people living with cats vs cats living with people. It’s imperative.

      • Late one night, I awoke the sound of my cat horking…

        Said to myself, “OK, clean up the cat hork when I get up”…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………….

        And I remembered to clean up the hork, about 2.5 milliseconds after I stepped on something cold and slimy. I swear she smiled at me, with faint hork-stains on her furrry lips…

      • or piss in my shoe just before I have to go to work…which one of mine once did…yeah, toms need to be “fixed”….

  5. Since happiness is not something I strive for – it seems to be a result of reaching a goal, not a goal in itself – I’m not sure even attempting to measure it has much validity. To the “researchers” whose primary goal appears to be milking money from the university system (secondary goal being affirmation of an existing bias) I’m sure happiness is being achieved in providing ammo (hah!) for hopolophobes.

  6. First of all, where did they obtain their data? I bet if they would collect it at the exit of a gun range their answer may change. I have never left the range mad. Lol.
    Secondly, they should collect data on happiness on people who own full auto to see if they are happier. I know I would be if I owned a bunch of full auto stuff. I am sure they wouldn’t reveal the findings of that study for fear that Americans would demand the repeal of the NFA. For the kid’s happiness!!!

  7. Quote-“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.”

    I’ve never heard anyone say “guns make me happy”. I’ve heard people say “I love shooting” or “check out my gun collection”. Guns are tools, and tools are meant for a job, not life fulfillment.

    I’m wondering if they will do another study on the psychological impact of various toothbrushes or a study on how an electrician feels about his multimeter.

    • Not an electrician but I love my multimeter and it makes me very happy when I’m performance tuning/diagnosing my 03 Cobra “Terminator”..

        • Actually, jokes aside, there is great pleasure in using a well-crafted tool or object. This is the artistry of an exceptional design. I feel it when I shoot some of my best guns, when I drive a well-made vehicle, or use an exceptionally thoughtful piece of software.

        • I rely on my fluke multimeter to protect me just like my edc. They both provide me great happiness knowing they give me a chance, when used properly to ensure i come home to my family everyday. Arm up and carry on!

      • Never sell your Terminator. You will regret it like I do almost daily. Terminator owners are significantly happier than non Terminator owners. It’s science and stuff.

        • Dark Shadow Grey convertible, 40,000 miles, enough (reversible) mods to make 500 hp @ the tires… Born on March, 28, 2003… 2nd owner since March, 23, 2007 and 3000 miles… NOT for sale, way too much fun and comparable replacement would be stupid costly… It’s a keeper…

    • Some guns are tools and some are art.

      At least that’s the way I feel about them. Of course I feel the same way about any cool precision machinery or device.

      When I look at the insides of a Collins R-390A receiver, a Drake TR-7A transceiver or a Marantz 10B FM tuner I feel like I’m looking at fine art. My Winchester model 70 or my Weatherby Mark 5 makes me feel the same way.

      • The hand-wired Marantz line? And a righteous Collins?

        You’re truly living the dream, man…

      • Looked up Collins R-390A expecting a 75-A4 or similar. That R-390A is an awesome MACHINE! Got my Hammarlund HQ-180A skinned a mile with 23 tubes vs. 17. Can it be set up outside an equipment rack?

        Anyway, more drivel psychoanalyzing gun owners. Could be used by Red Flag enforcers to justify profiling someone targeted for confiscation. Culture war goes on.

    • ^^^ This. My first thought was “who the hell ever said that guns make them happy?” In my half-century of shooting firearms, I’ve never had anyone say this to me.

      This whole article is a conclusion in search of a premise.

  8. I would be willing to bet that if some dumbass broke into my home unarmed and was unfortunate enough to find me there pointing my 10 mm glock 29 at his chest his UNHAPPINESS level would increase considerably which would in turn make me happier (as a gun owner) than him (as a non-gun owner) So I would say there are significant flaws in this study which seems to have either asked the wrong questions or overlooked a number of variables…

    • all my life I wanted a “tommy gun”…always settling for something a bit less….now I have one…yeah, now you could say I’m happy…….

  9. Dumb researcher.

    It is not the things you own it is the experiences you live thru that lead to happiness, or the other thing.

    How did he not know this from the start?

    • people that won’t leave us alone…and continue to harass and threaten us… tend to make me a bit more than “unhappy”

  10. When I need a tamper proof torx screw removed, it becomes a real problem if I don’t have one and can’t get one.

    Try removing a transmission with only a pair of needle nose pliers.

    How about cooking a five course meal with a ceramic bowl, a fork, and a cigarette lighter?

    How many people have successfully managed a coast to coast cargo run driving a bicycle?
    —————————————————–
    Guns are tools. Some look very nice and some are just plain useful. Why should I derive ‘happiness’ from a tool? NOT having the right tool for the job at hand can be VERY frustrating (if even possible). This is equal to the idea of happiness from money. Having a proper mix of tools for lifes’ chores tends to make people more comfortable and will allow for a better set of choices.

    I see no reason to accept the premise of happiness within this context. Perhaps some learned scholar can explain this to me as a person that understand that it is better to have it and and not need it than need it and not have it?

  11. Gun ownership is unrelated to most everything in life. But, despite the disclaimer at the end, I’m guessing that wasn’t the true point of the study.

  12. I had a tangently related thought when I got up this morning. Guns are like a rabbit’s foot. We just know they keep bad things from happening to us. We just know if we leave our guns at home then that 1 in 25,000 chance of something bad happening will happen to us. 🙂

    The above is somewhat tongue-in-cheek but like all such comments in contains a grain of truth. That why there is such a demand for pocket pistols and smaller subcompacts. Few of us actually believe that “today is the day” or even that day will even come but simply having gun wards off danger and if our number comes up we will then have a chance.

    • “We just know if we leave our guns at home then that 1 in 25,000 chance of something bad happening will happen to us.”

      Reading this conjures up visions of millenials with their cell phones.

  13. I get happy when I shoot my AR15😃I don’t experience the same level of joy when I shoot my handguns or shotgun…😏

    • spending time at the range trying to squeeze that group smaller and smaller can be quite absorbing…and tends to block out thinking about other things…….

  14. Maybe he should do a study to find if people who have car insurance are happier than people who do not. Or house insurance, or life insurance.

    People pay for those things realizing there is low probability of something occurring but it is better to be prepared.

    It is related to peace of mind, not happiness.

    Bias is an affliction that is epidemic on the left.

  15. This is strange to me, are they comparing gun ownership to anything, or just the baseline of society?. If so, then of course the happiness level wouldn’t be different, gun owners are just normal people.

  16. Bullshit research from a gun control freak.

    I just did research on people who were recently robbed, raped, or murdered. Definitely, not happy people. All said it would have been better if they had a gun.

  17. Another nutty professor with a nutty idea & paper.
    There, that response made me happy,
    Now I’m going to go play with my guns.
    Now I’m really happy.😎

  18. Seems as though the study tends to disprove the claim that gun owners are less happy (i.e., that they cling bitterly).

  19. I’m not really sure why anyone would think that acquisition of a tool in and of itself would make people happier or specifically make them feel safer.

    That’s not really the point of a tool. The point of a tool is to make work easier (or possible in some cases) and faster so that you can spend the time you save on something that does make you happy.

    So for hobbyists I would expect owning a gun might contribute to a hobby that increases happiness to some degree but for most people I would expect that it’s an object they use for something they just do.

    The vast majority of the people in the area in which I grew up owned guns. Almost exclusively for hunting. But that wasn’t a hobby, it was survival because the area was quite poor.

    That said I’ve always kinda wondered about how “happiness studies” are conducted and controlled.

  20. Guns won’t make you happy. Only endless, unrestricted abortion can do that. Plus you make more money! That’s what is really important in life!

    Oops! We aren’t repopulating fast enough. We have to import more people!

  21. The saying is that happiness is a WARM gun, not just any old gun. What we have here are crisis levels of national range time deficit disorder (also known as RTDD, which comes in acute and chronic forms).

  22. What do they mean by happy? Like someone said already I’m not looking to guns for life fulfillment. But I feel more secure. Therefore maybe more content? when carrying my firearm. Same thoughts or feelings when my wife is carrying because Im thankful she can effectively defend herself and the kids when Im gone at work. Im definately having fun and enjoying myself when out target shooting with my family or at a gun shop deciding what to buy next. I could talk or read about guns all day. So again what exactly do they mean? How do you quantify (I think thats the right word) more or less happy in this study? I know there are some people who buy one gun and put it away for years without giving it a second thought. Maybe those are the kind of people they used for the study.

  23. Did someone actually pay for this “study?”

    Next up, a new study that answers the burning question: “Do Hemorrhoids Make People Sad?” Film at eleven.

  24. The American liberals and progressives are the unhappiest people in the world. They are angry and fearful. No way they are as happy as, well, virtually anyone else. So take this study with a big dose of MiraLax.

    I’d like to see a survey of gun owners vs anti-gunners. The latter are generally aggressively unhappy. The only pleasure they get is in making everyone else as miserable as they are.

  25. Assume this is true. So what? We should give up our guns and then we will be just as happy as before? People own guns for multiple reasons. This study did not ask the right questions – – It measured things they assumed should apply to gun owners. You can bet nobody doing the research was a gun owner.

  26. Their numbers are skewed and screwed up. They left out asking all the dead folks who didn’t have a gun for self defense if they were happy or not about NOT having a gun to protect themselves..

  27. What a colossally stupid idea: evaluating if gun owners are overall more happy than others. What possible value is there in such a study?

    Happiness is a choice. Completely independent of things.

    I am happy when I go to the range. I am happy when I stay home. I am happy out and about, even though I can’t reasonably conceal carry a Beretta Neos .22 pistol.

  28. ” Researcher Terence Hill, an associate professor of sociology in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Arizona ”

    googling him indicates a left leaning democrat.
    sounds like an anti-gunner.
    conclusions are suspect.

  29. Flaw 1: Before wanting a gun for protection, you need to be “woke” to dangers. After all, ignorance is bliss. Libs often mistakenly live in a fantasy world where the police, restraining order, gate guard/doorman will protect them, or they are so educated that they will be able to talk themselves out of trouble. These people should be very happy since they “know” that violence will never pay a personal visit to them.
    Flaw 2: The study doesn’t compare someone who is now woke and unarmed to a woke person that has gotten armed. For most, this is a transitional period, unless you’re someone like Carol Bowne, who was murdered by her ex while waiting for NJ to give her a permission slip for a gun. How many terrorist or violence victims in a gun free zone thought, “I wish I had my gun right now?”
    Flaw 3: Most gun owners know that having a gun isn’t a magic talisman of protection. They know that bad things can still happen, but having a gun raises your odds from 0% to something better, but still not 100%. Two parishioners still died in the White Settlement, TX shooting, but many more would have died without an armed response.

  30. One might just as well compare owners and non-owners of horses, sports cars and astronomical telescopes. What counts is how much they mean to you, personally. If they are important, ownership probably makes you happier than non-ownership. If they aren’t important, probably not. What I am very sure is true is that, if ownership is important to you, you will be very unhappy if some arrogant, self righteous, petty tyrant (e.g. Bloomberg) deprives you of the object of your desire “for your own good.”

  31. I was very happy buying my first AR15. And I was very happy when I got a Heritage .22 cowboy gun.
    I was so happy getting a Mossberg 590 shotgun with a bayonet lug. I really get happy mounting a bayonet to that shotgun.
    (Smile)

  32. I don’t need my guns to give me a feeling of personal well-being. I enjoy shooting them. I enjoy the smell of burnt gun powder. I enjoy shooting all types of guns, pistols, shotguns, and rifles. It’s fun!!! Other people enjoy boating, fishing, playing golf, etc. A snowflake study to analyze why I enjoy different things than other people is a waste of money and effort.

  33. I don’t feel happier owning any other tool than I did before I owned it either. I think this “Study” was a roundabout way to find out if guns actually made your brain think you genitals were bigger.

    There a degree of happiness/joy when you finally get the firearm you’ve wanted but normally that’s a fleeting emotion. They missed the mark looking for “Happiness”, what they should have looked for is “Satisfaction with their physical security” because that is what firearms can provide.

  34. Per Lewis, “Fun is closely related to joy, a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct.” Happiness could probably directly interchange with Fun in that statement.

  35. So much for the social ‘sciences’. What a waste of a PhD. Just to end up whoring after this kind of study funding to avoid eating out of a dumpster.

  36. I’m just going to leave this here… A-little Zeitgeist for-the-ages…

    She’s not a girl who misses much
    Do do do do do do do do, oh yeah
    She’s well acquainted with the touch of the velvet hand
    Like a lizard on a window pane
    The man in the crowd with the multicoloured mirrors
    On his hobnail boots
    Lying with his eyes while his hands are busy
    Working overtime
    A soap impression of his wife which he ate
    And donated to the National Trust

    Down
    I need a fix ’cause I’m going down
    Down to the bits that I left uptown
    I need a fix ’cause I’m going down

    Mother Superior jump the gun
    Mother Superior jump the gun
    Mother Superior jump the gun
    Mother Superior jump the gun
    Mother Superior jump the gun
    Mother Superior jump the gun

    Happiness is a warm gun (Happiness bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
    Happiness is a warm gun, mama (Happiness bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
    When I hold you in my arms (Oo-oo oh yeah)
    And I feel my finger on your trigger (Oo-oo oh yeah)
    I know nobody can do me no harm (Oo-oo oh yeah)

    Because happiness is a warm gun, mama (Happiness bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
    Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is (Happiness bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
    Happiness is a warm, yes it is, gun (Happiness bang, bang, shoot, shoot)
    Well, don’t you know that happiness is a warm gun, mama? (Happiness is a warm gun, yeah)

    “Happiness Is A Warm Gun” (The Beatles)

  37. This Must be a Lie! I was a Very happy 18 Year Old when I bought my first Gun! It was a 7.65 Argentine! I still get happier every time I buy a New Gun! I am so much happier owning Guns than not owning them! Why? Because I Trust the Government to try and turn me into a Slave! As Long as I own my Guns, THAT WILL NOT HAPPEN! So……..I am about as happy as if I won the Lottery every day of my Life!

    • completely agree. I trust them to try to do exactly that. I dont trust them to stay the hell out of my life which is exactly where i damn want them and the only language they understand when it comes to stopping them getting their wishes is FORCE

  38. Not sure if guns equate to happiness, but it is contentment. Now I leave happiness to the ownership and use of motorcycles. Motorcycles are art that moves you. Motorcyclists are obviously happier than none motorcycle owners. There, I fixed that.

    • I can’t believe someone had the balls to actually label this worthless piece of crap answer to a question that NOBODY asked as SCIENCE…..

  39. I’m extremely happy, especially when I add another gun, or shoot a gun, or buy ammo for a gun, or clean a gun, or add parts to a gun…

  40. I’d be interested in hearing hearing how they phrased the survey questions. I’ll bet they didn’t as the gunnies how much gun ownership contributed to their happiness, or if they asked if gunnies would be just as happy _without_ their guns…

  41. This is a joke . . . I read the source study. The source study abstract is “although gun owners reported being very happy much, much more often, we doctored the variables until there was no statistical difference.”

    “we observed that the odds of being very happy were higher for respondents who reported having a gun in their home. This association persisted with adjustments for age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, employment status, household income, financial satisfaction, financial change, number of children, religious attendance, political affiliation, urban residence, region of interview, and survey year.”

    That says to me that the odds of being very happy are much higher if you have a gun, regardless of any variable. Then the rest of the study goes on to say why that data doesn’t count.

    • Well duh. What good is science if you can’t manipulate to serve your politics?

      Did the study, or abstract, indicate if the study had been normalized to any particular ethnicity science principles? Gotta be careful there. What is science for one group, may not work for a different group.

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