“Many Americans who recently bought guns open to political violence, survey finds” – The Guardian

The most shockingly spun headline of the least shocking data, at least if have the neurons tuned to understand it.

Armed Minnesotans protect businesses in their neighborhood from rioting looters

I haven’t done a good fisking in awhile, I’ve been busy. But thankfully the Guardian has provided something so shockingly and stupidly inflammatory that I’m dusting off the old keyboard. I haven’t seen such selective use of inference and misunderstanding technicalities to support a position in a long time.

So, let’s dive in. Guardian article, in Bold and responses thusly.

Large numbers of Americans who have bought guns over the past four years or who regularly carry their loaded weapons in public are willing to engage in political violence, even to the extent of shooting a perceived opponent, a new mega-survey has found.

Ooooh, a mega-survey. That’s so much extra survey. But if you know anything about survey data for large populations, a well-chosen 1,000 people can provide statistically significant data. Likewise, any chosen amount can say pretty much whatever you want them to say if you ask the questions right. Therefore a “mega” survey of 13,000 is just so you can say its a mega-survey. It’s a branding play to lend credence. I doubt the institution that did the survey, UC Davis, called it that. I get the feeling that this has been added by the media for dramatic flair.

Precisely what we need in our empirical data, drama. More fun that way.

The study of almost 13,000 Americans, drawn from across the US and weighted for demographics, provides alarming evidence of the openness of certain types of gun owners to the idea – and possibly the practice – of violence as a political act.

Alright, alarming, they say. Let us go quantify alarming, certain types (feels prejudiced), and the vagueness of ‘idea’ and ‘practice’.

The risk of violent behavior rose dramatically, the researchers found, with certain subsets of gun owners.


In particular, Americans who have bought their weapons since the disruptions of COVID in 2020 and those who often or always carry guns in public expressed high levels of susceptibility to political violence. A similar, though less marked, trend was visible among owners of assault-style rifles of the sort used frequently in mass shootings.

Oh. My. Gawd… People who chose to buy guns after witnessing some of the most widespread local political violence in recent memory, and the failure of the state to protect them from the mostly peaceful political violence, are ‘susceptible’ to it? Shocking.

Funny they do not mention how many of those new gun owners actually lean more politically left, or at least decidedly moderate, and aren’t otherwise the ‘nuts’ being very loudly ‘not mentioned’ aloud.

The study, Firearm Ownership and Support for Political Violence in the United States, was conducted by the violence prevention research program at the University of California, Davis. Its findings will ring alarm bells at an already exceptionally tense time for the country.

No they don’t, they should ring ‘Duh’ buzzers for this clownish lack of connecting the dots. 2020 was a summer that convinced a lot of people that the government wouldn’t do anything to stop them if they wanted to burn their jurisdictions down. At least a certain ‘subset’ of jurisdictions with a certain ‘subset’ of politicians running them.

See, I can infer, too. You readers know exactly who I’m talking about. The type of DAs, Mayors, and Police Chiefs I am referring to come to mind rather quickly. For many of you they even have specific names.

With seven months to go to the presidential rematch between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the US is not only in the early stages of what promises to be a fiery election, but the prevalence of gun ownership as well as mass gun rampages are also running at all-time highs. A country awash with weapons and facing a fraught political clash, which both sides are portraying as an existential fight for the future of America, poses extreme challenges for law enforcement.


Alright… let’s unpack that. Yes, this election is looking to be “2020: 2, elderly incoherent yelling at cloud boogaloo.” But I get a much more exhausted sense from this election than the last. We’re so much more tired of it, but it’s the selection we got because, of course, it is. Yes, gun ownership is higher now than last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and so forth.

Threats of bans, threats of riots, threats of crime, threats that are all very visible in real-time alongside a government that seems to be sitting on their thumbs arguing about recognition days and blaming the other team for every woe ever has left a very deflated and annoyed populace who, I remind you, was told they were on their own in 2020.

The economy was brought to a screeching halt, and people were handed about ~$2,500 each over about a year to make up for losses of 10-15x times that in prohibited income, mostly in the tighter service economies and lower-income households. But funny enough that’s enough for a few Glocks or one and an AR-15. I bought a bed.

You mean the government paid for this? On purpose!?!

No, I don’t ascribe them that much forethought. But they certainly are not taking any accountability for the post-stimi-bucks consequences. Did you know the average time-to-crime for a gun dropped dramatically for guns bought during the pandemic? Weird. People bought a lot of ‘comfort’ items with the extra money because they had either covered the other 90-95% deficit in other ways or were so short on money it wasn’t going to matter anyway.

Fun fact: When the government says the cops aren’t coming because they might get sick, owning a gun feels a lot more comfortable.

Since Trump announced his candidacy in November 2022, he has taken his inflammatory rhetoric to a new level. He has recast his supporters who have been jailed for the violent attack on the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 as “hostages” and promised to pardon many of them.

That… just sounds like Trump. The man has never met an event he won’t try and cast for his advantage or his current opponent’s detriment. It doesn’t matter if they were friends prior or will be friends again next week after whatever wild and crazy thing was said. That’s just Trump.

At the same time, gun purchases have soared since the start of the pandemic. Last year the US endured a record number of mass shootings.

Actually, we didn’t.

Mass shootings, that broadly and wildly inclusive, therefore nearly useless term, were between 2021 and 2022’s in number, 2nd highest year. While mass killings were at a record 40.

Why doesn’t my tone read as more concerned about that? Total number of deaths and injuries are the lowest of the last four complete years. Lowest since the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the riots. So, no, I am not going to take my social barometer from the statistical outlier events, where a single death or injury can be reclassified without accounting for motive at all.

I will look at total deaths and injuries. Those are both down significantly. Hopefully, they will keep going down, regardless of the election, as the nation chills out back to the 2010s of Obama and, yes, Trump-era civility. Hopefully, we’ll drop even further than that by the time we’re out of the decade.

Like or hate the politics of either past president, or both, but I want that chill ‘things are working pretty well’ vibe back. I also want my $20 to not feel like a $5, but inflation has killed that nicely.

The authors of the study draw conclusions from their findings that will give federal and state officials pause. It is plausible, they say, that recent gun purchasers may be “arming up for anticipated civil conflict. Our findings strongly suggest that large numbers of armed individuals who are at least potentially willing to engage in political violence are in public places across the US every day.”

What an alarmist way to say that people who carry guns for protection, and who have absolutely seen significant political violence here and abroad, might consider using their guns under some nebulously defined circumstances. Of course they would, the number one reason for buying a firearm for decades has been protection. A significant, though exaggerated by the media, threat people think about is a violent political extremist or extremist group attacking them as a perceived enemy.

I don’t own and carry firearms to defend against only apolitical violence. They are for any emergency that requires a use of force response to increase my odds of avoiding death or injury, and protect anyone I am charged with protecting.

Participants in the UC Davis survey were asked whether they believed that violence was justified in the pursuit of a range of specific political objectives. About 39% of gun owners said yes, compared with 30% of non-owners.

So the supermajority, under some definitions (60% or more, three-fifths), of survey respondents, both armed and otherwise, said violence was not justifiable in politics, and about 1/3 of both groups say it is. Are we then surprised that gun owners, usually people who are more socially conscious of violence, make up a greater portion of the minority who are? We also are not given the parameters of ‘justified for political goals.’

Keep in mind that our government is absolutely in continuous use of violence, or the threat of it, for political and economic goals. Violence is a currency. No, you do not have to like that fact.

That differential is moderate. But the gap becomes far more serious when the same question is put to subsets of gun owners.

Enlighten me.

About 42% of owners of assault-type rifles said political violence could be justified, rising to 44% of recent gun purchasers, and a staggering 56% of those who always or nearly always carry loaded guns in public.

People who buy fighting-style firearms are more likely to be willing to… fight in a justified way? For a cause they consider morally important? Shocking.

Let’s survey US service members and non-service member civilians and see which group is more likely to consider violence in service to their country (politics) justifiable.

The answer will not shock you. Odd how people whose job it is to literally fight for their country will see more reasons and be more willing to fight for their country. Often under more circumstances that they can see as justifiable than non-service members. They also tend to be more geo-politically aware, more informed on what the use of force in any given conflict would look like, aware of the risks, and so forth. But weird how they are much more likely to consider political violence justifiable… just in an ‘abroad’ sense under government direction.

The extent to which those subgroups said they were prepared to go in actually carrying out political violence was even more stark. The survey takers were asked to imagine they were in a situation in which political violence was perceived as justified.

Perceived AS JUSTIFIED. Are we forgetting that justifiable homicide is a legal term? ‘Justified’ implies having the support of law or society after review. It might only be ‘justified’ in their own minds. But asking someone to believe in its justification means that they are imagining a scenario, right or wrongly, that they believe will be vindicated under review.

What did people say…

In that scenario, 16.5% of gun owners who carried loaded firearms in public in the 12 months before the survey was conducted said they would go as far as to shoot someone. The proportion was also high among Americans who had bought weapons since 2020 (8.9%) and owners of assault-style rifles (7.9%), compared with those who do not possess guns at all (3.3%).

So… an overwhelming super majority of gun owners who own fighting-style firearms say they won’t shoot people under justifiable circumstances, and that is indicative of a problem? This seems, to me at least, to indicate an overwhelming sense on the subject of justifiable use of violence.

“Recent purchasers and always- or nearly-always-carriers were more willing to kill to advance political objectives,” the researchers conclude.

J U S T I F I A B L E political objectives, why do we now keep skipping that very important word?

The political mindset of the gun-owning subgroups is also skewed to more extreme positions lending themselves to political violence. Asked whether they believed that the US would erupt in civil war within the next few years, 29% of public gun carriers said yes, with the same answer given by 22% of recent purchasers and 20% of assault-type rifle owners, compared with only 13% of non-owners.

Once again, a group more socially aware of violence thinks it is more likely than a group less socially aware of violence. All groups have super majorities who believe the big violent thing (civil war) won’t happen. But let’s pick on the largest minority opinion, which also happens to coincide with the group logically most socially aware of violence (firearm carriers). And let’s point out that their percentage is the largest while also not mentioning it is still in the category of the super minority.

The study, published by Jama Network Open on Tuesday, was based on a survey carried out in May and June 2022. It is part of a series of peer-reviewed articles and papers from the violence prevention research program that has explored views on political violence in the US including by party affiliation and political ideology and among Republicans who support Trump’s Make America Great Again (Maga) movement.

Oh no.. this is data from the middle of 2022!? When 2021 was the worst year? We are reporting on opinions fresh from the peak of US societal discontent, pandemic, economic, riot stress, and high violence like they are reflective of 2024 attitudes? After two years of diminishing violence and newer socio-economic worries?

I’m done. Get out.

Next you’ll tell me that older citizens tend to hold onto older ways of thinking for longer than younger ones. Really earth-shattering stuff here. Go stare at the sun until the next eclipse, that will provide more useful data than this.

The research team, led by Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine at UC Davis, approaches political violence as a public health problem. They hope that their findings will act as a guide to preventive measures as federal and state officials brace themselves for what lies ahead.

I don’t blame Garen here. I would bet if I read Professor Wintemute’s report, it is much more nuanced and, therefore, boring but useful than this alarmist tripe would have me believe.

The scientists draw comfort from their finding that most Americans, whether or not they own firearms, bluntly reject political violence as an acceptable option. They say that result should give hope, as it suggests that violence prevention measures could be effective among gun owners and non-owners alike who “publicly repudiate political violence” and could “help identify, dissuade, deter, and incapacitate likely perpetrators”.

You just spent the whole article telling us how much trouble these results indicate, and now you toss it back to the researchers who are saying what I am. That, even at the height of social tensions in the US, people believed that political violence is not the answer. Even when goaded to the very edge of imagining its justifiability.

They conclude that the very extreme fringe minorities, as there is always a minority and is always a risk from any number of small extreme groups with niche motives, are the appreciable threats. We’ve known that for centuries, it is a tale as old as civilization.

At no point in your rambling, incoherent report were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on the internet is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. Opinions surveyed in 2022… unbelievable.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. editor@gatdaily.com A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.