Guns and Gear

Rutgers Study Falsely Claims New Gun Owners Are ‘Impulsive’

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By Larry Keane

Antigun think tanks and politicians push narratives that private citizens don’t “need” firearms for self-defense so they shouldn’t have them. That narrative has fallen apart over the past two years of rampant rioting and civil unrest as the same groups called to defund police.

The same antigun collectives are pushing a new narrative to dehumanize new gun owners with the tactic of shaming Americans into not exercising their Second Amendment. New gun owners have their own thoughts.

New Antigun ‘Science’

Researchers from Rutgers University,  as reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, saw the historic surge of firearm sales over the past two years and had to do something. They slapped together a behavioral study on 2020 – 2021 first-time gun buyers.

“What we’re showing is that these people who are purchasing firearms during the 2020 surge are different from typical firearm owners,” wrote Taylor Rodriguez, one of the study’s authors. “There’s something unique about this group of people.”

According to Rodriguez and her colleagues at the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center (NJGVRC), the Rutgers study showed that millions of first-time gun owners from last year and the first half of this year were reported to have the most “disinhibition” and thus be more sensitive to perceived threats and have less control over their emotions and impulses.

Rodriguez is also a partial member of the NJGVRC, a state taxpayer-funded group affiliated with Rutgers that routinely vilifies gun ownership. In a blog post about her “findings,” Rodriguez had more to say about America’s new first-time gun owners. “People who are sensitive to threats such as these and who have difficulties with impulse control are buying firearms at a greater rate during this unprecedented time.”

‘Threats Such As These’

Record numbers of law-abiding citizens witnessed rising crime rates over the last 18 months. NSSF estimated that there were 8.4 million first-time gun owners in 2020 and an additional 3.2 million in the first half of 2021. Gun ownership also grew more diverse. A retailer survey by NSSF in 2020 showed African American gun buyers increased by over 58 percent in 2020 over 2019, Hispanic-American gun buyers increased by over 49 percent in the same time and Asian-American gun buyers also increased nearly 43 percent.

The Rutgers report doesn’t address these safety concerns. Instead, researchers feign ignorance and focused on broad-stroke, biased and arbitrary psychological analysis designed to demonize lawful firearm owners.

Training & Education

Gun buyers are bucking Rutgers’ “impulsive” and “undisciplined” stereotypes. Ranges and classes have been filled across the nation.

First-time buyer Nay Gargano of Tampa, described the first time she squeezed her new firearm’s trigger. “The first shot, it felt like so much power. I finished firing the rest, and the instructor was just like, ‘You’re a natural at this.’” She added, “It’s not just for protection. I go to the range, and that’s one of my stress reliefs.”

Gargano’s not alone by any measure. Geneva Solomon, owner of Redstone Firearms, described the scene at her store as new first-time buyers flocked to safety and training courses. “We’ve definitely seen an uptick in the class options we offer,” Solomon said. “Before they would never sell out. Now they sell out two days after we post them.”

Rogers Anderson of the Bay Area chapter of Black Gun Owners Association leads training and safety courses at local shooting ranges and described why first-timers were flocking to his group. “June 2020 – when the riots were hitting different cities – my students increased.”

That was the same experience for Robin Lewis, who opted for firearm training. “I didn’t know shooting could be a hobby, but it’s all about learning. The less you know the more you fear it,” she said.

Rutgers researchers would be better off concentrating on ways to support new gun owners instead of vilifying them. NSSF does this through safety initiatives like Project ChildSafe and a number of suicide prevention tools. Education is paramount for all firearm owners and new Second Amendment participants alike. It is far more productive and beneficial to promote safe firearm ownership nationwide than to label and finger point from an ivory tower.

Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.