The Guardian floored that Gen Z isn't more anti-gun

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As a member of Gen X, I look at the younger generation as they’re portrayed in the media and have concerns. Luckily, I know that generations aren’t monolithic. Just as the Baby Boomers weren’t universally hippies and my generation wasn’t all building dot com businesses.


With Gen Z, I expect much the same.

So what does this have to do with guns? Well, it seems The Guardian is floored that a generation that has dealt with mass shootings isn’t completely freaked out over guns.

In the US, Gen Z grew up doing active shooter drills and watching school massacres and other acts of violence unfold on TV. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that many of them have been high-profile faces in the movement for gun reform. But at the same time, research shows many young people, like those Alvarado works with, remain open to – even interested in – gun ownership. What connects those two threads, experts say, is shared trauma and exposure to violence.

While one response to that sense of dread has been to join the gun violence prevention movement, another is to embrace firearms. The 2023 Peril study showed that about one-third of youth under 18 believe they are safer with guns than without them. 39% of participants reported having easy access to a gun, and about half of those answers were from young people who purchased a firearm themselves.

In another study from 2019, 42% of boys and men ages 13-21 reported they will likely own a gun in the future, while 76% of all respondents agreed that gun ownership makes a home safer. And between 2002 and 2019, rates of gun ownership among teens rose by 41%. During the pandemic, one-third of people who purchased guns were between 18 and 29 years old.

These swings coincide with rising ownership among demographics not historically linked to firearms, like women, Latinos and Asian Americans. In the latter two groups, new gun owners say that they are motivated to carry by the increased threat of racist extremism.

“Gun ownership has diversified dramatically,” said Kelly Drane, research director at Giffords Law Center in San Francisco.


Of course, many on the anti-gun side simply cannot fathom the idea that people might actually embrace gun rights to any degree, especially in the face of threats of violence.

The thing is, though, that’s not an irrational response to trauma as many people think. It’s completely rational.

Gen Z understands that violence is an unfortunate part of our lives, which means that it’s not going to go away with platitudes and protests. Sure, we can do that, but we also need to face the fact that gun control doesn’t make criminals stop doing bad things.

If you believe someone wants to hurt you, it’s completely rational to want to be able to use violence in an effort to defend yourself.

I’m actually glad see Gen Z stand up for defending themselves.

What I’m not glad to see is the gaslighting, an attempt to pretend that it’s not that they see the world as it is and is instead a trauma response.

Rationality is traumatizing, apparently.


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