Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Trigger Happy?

Arthur Brooks on gun ownership and happiness:

Who are all these gun owners? Are they the uneducated poor, left behind? It turns out they have the same level of formal education as nongun owners, on average. Furthermore, they earn 32% more per year than nonowners. Americans with guns are neither a small nor downtrodden group.

Nor are they "bitter." In 2006, 36% of gun owners said they were "very happy," while 9% were "not too happy." Meanwhile, only 30% of people without guns were very happy, and 16% were not too happy.

In 1996, gun owners spent about 15% less of their time than nonowners feeling "outraged at something somebody had done." It's easy enough in certain precincts to caricature armed Americans as an angry and miserable fringe group. But it just isn't true. The data say that the people in the approximately 40 million American households with guns are generally happier than those people in households that don't have guns.

The gun-owning happiness gap exists on both sides of the political aisle. Gun-owning Republicans are more likely than nonowning Republicans to be very happy (46% to 37%). Democrats with guns are slightly likelier than Democrats without guns to be very happy as well (32% to 29%). Similarly, holding income constant, one still finds that gun owners are happiest.

Dr. Helen has more.

(HT Tyler Cowen)

1 comment:

thinking said...

I am so tired of people trying to distort Obama's comments on gun ownership, etc.

What he meant, but said in a less than artful way, was a thesis many other political and social scientists have articulated: that many social conservatives vote against their economic interests based on social issues. That is true.

The thesis can then be taken one step further: that the Republican party has used social issues to convince some people to vote against their economic interests. Unfortunately, as a Republican, I have to say that's been true. There has been some calculation to use wedge social issues as a voting tool.

Consider how many people voted based on issues like gay marriage and a false threat of losing their gun rights, only to lose ground economically and perhaps even lose a loved one fighting in Iraq.

Now none of these people would have lost their guns if they had voted differently, and I doubt any of them would have been impacted by gay marriage. Yet their focus was precisely on these issues, all the while getting hit hard on others.

And this has nothing to do with which positions one views as "right" or "wrong" on these issues; it simply is an observation about voter focus and political tactics.