A NEW HOPE: Young Americans Less Likely To Support Gun Control Despite Media Narrative

John Lott | President, Crime Prevention Research Center

Listening to the media, you would never know that young people are less inclined than other Americans to support gun control. Few Americans have heard of New Mexico high school senior Will Riley, who is organizing “Stand for the Second,” a national walkout in support of gun ownership. Riley is doing this with no real support from school officials, and without the millions of dollars that billionaire Michael Bloomberg and others have poured into student gun control efforts.

During last Friday’s second school walkout for gun control, former President Obama wrote in Time magazine that young people will change the debate on gun control as they get older and start to vote. (RELATED: Did You Read Obama’s Essay Commending Student Gun Control Enthusiasts? It Was CRINGE-INDUCING)

But Obama is setting himself up for disappointment. A USA Today survey from March 14 to 20 found that just 47 percent of young people between 13 and 17 years of age thought “tightening gun control laws and background checks will prevent more mass public shootings in the United States.” The survey found that 54 percent of those 18 to 24 felt the same way, and 61 percent of all voters agreed.

A Reuters survey conducted in the month following the Florida high school shooting (February 14 to March 14) found that 18 to 29 year olds were nine percentage points less likely than any older age group to support an assault weapons or semi-automatic ban.

The media has helped create the impression that young people favor more gun control. Adult gun control advocates have fed this media narrative by pouring money into student movements.

But of the 200,000 people who participated in the gun control march in Washington DC, only about 10 percent were under 18 years of age. The average age was 49. Fewer than half of the protestors at the rally cited gun control as their main reason for attending. Hatred of Trump and world peace were more important motivations. Given the free hotel rooms and food provided for students who attended the march and the free flights donated by Delta Airlines to Stoneman Douglas High School students and their families, one would have thought the organizers could get more students to attend.

At least $9 million was spent by grown-ups to organize and run the gun control march. Unspecified millions more were donated to the “March for our Lives Foundation” to help get young people involved in the push for gun control.

It didn’t hurt that Jimmy Kimmel and others used their television shows to get the word out about the gun control march and school walkout. Kimmel also predictably used the Academy Awards as a platform. TV news coverage on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC has been completely uncritical of young gun control advocates such as David Hogg, despite his vicious comments.

The NRA only wishes that it had the resources that Michael Bloomberg has provided to gun control advocates.

18-year-old Will Riley doesn’t have any of this financial or media backing. He is just a high school kid who got the idea to try to do the impossible. A week before his May 2 walkout, 300 schools were participating.

This is a lot less than the 2,000 schools that participated in the March 14 walkout for gun control, but it will probably compare favorably to last Friday’s second gun control walkout. This is pretty good work for a kid with none of the resources available to gun control advocates.

The media likes to give the impression of nearly universal support for more gun control laws. But there’s nothing remotely universal about it. And it isn’t the young people who are leading the push.

John Lott is the president of the Crime Prevention Research Center and the author most recently of “The War on Guns.”


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.

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