Famously, in 1776 America’s Founding Fathers convened in Philadelphia with the noble purpose of making a wish on a Monkey’s Paw for the U.S. to be #1 at everything. Unfortunately, the list of things we’re best at includes gun violence. The country has already endured over 400 mass shootings in 2023, which is on pace for a single-year record.
Fear would be a reasonable reaction to the fact that gun violence killed over 48,000 Americans in 2021 and is now the leading cause of death among children. But just like Uncle Jerry tells us about his weekly “special meetings” that he’s “legally required” to attend: admitting there’s a problem can be the hardest part.
Given *gestures at politics*, not everyone is incentivized to admit that gun violence poses a threat to personal feelings of safety. That’s why we built a confessional booth, in the form of a list experiment, and invited Americans to step inside to confess their true feelings about gun violence.
While Democrats equally admit publicly and privately that gun violence makes them feel unsafe, Republicans and independents are much more likely to privately admit that gun violence makes them feel unsafe than they are to admit it publicly. This implies that the appetite for addressing gun violence is far more widespread than traditional polling suggests.
While we’re happy to prescribe truth serum, policy prescriptions are more elusive. Just 22% of Democrats believe society would be safer if more people owned guns, while most Republicans (64%) think more guns would increase safety. Evidently, there isn’t a magic bullet that makes everyone feel safer.