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Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Guns don’t make you happier

And guns don’t help you sleep better
By Science News Staff / Source

fail steve mcqueen GIF“We want to understand gun owners’ subjective experiences,” said lead author Dr. Terrence Hill, a researcher in the School of Sociology at the University of Arizona.

“We’re trying to understand when guns promote individual well-being, if at all, and that will add to the discussion of the role of guns in our society.”

In the happiness study, Dr. Hill and his colleagues analyzed 27 years of data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey, collected between 1973 and 2018.

While the data initially seemed to point to a positive relationship between gun ownership and happiness, that relationship disappeared when the scientists factored respondents’ marital status into their analysis.

It turned out gun owners were more likely to be married, and being married — not gun ownership — was driving happiness.

When the researchers considered marital status and other variables such as race, religion and education in their analysis, gun owners and non-gun owners exhibited similar levels of happiness.

“Gun owners will often tell you that guns help them to feel safe, secure and protected. They will also tell you that guns empower them and make them feel independent and strong. They also talk about how just holding and handling guns is pleasurable,” Dr. Hill said.

“If guns do make people feel safe, secure and protected, if they are empowering, if they are contributing to feelings of pleasure, then they should promote happiness, but we don’t find any evidence of that. That calls into question whether or not these are real feelings that gun owners have, or are they just part of the culture of owning a gun?”

The data showed no difference between gun owners and non-gun owners in terms of their level of sleep disturbance.

Dr. Hill and co-authors also looked at how participants felt about the safety of their neighborhoods.
When they compared sleep disturbance in gun owners and non-gun owners who lived in dangerous neighborhoods, they again saw no difference.

“We found that gun ownership was no consolation for living in a dangerous neighborhood in terms of the sleep disturbance outcome,” Dr. Hill said.

“The idea that guns can help people sleep better at night is often presented by interest groups, popular culture and even commercial products, such as bedside gun holsters or special pillows with gun compartments that allow people to sleep with or near their weapon.”

“Whenever people start to promote a certain type of lifestyle — like a type of exercise or a diet — public health is there to test it.”

“We think if anybody makes a claim about how guns are good for people’s health and wellbeing, those claims should be formally tested with empirical data. We need to test those claims like we would test any dietary or exercise recommendation.”

The study was published in the journal Preventive Medicine on January 24, 2020. The findings were published online January 7, 2020 in the journal SSM – Population Health. The sleep study was based on four years of data collected for the General Social Survey between 2010 and 2018.
Terrence D. Hill et al. 2020. Happiness is a warm gun? Gun ownership and happiness in the United States (1973-2018). SSM – Population Health 10: 100536; doi: 10.1016/j.ssmph.2020.100536
Terrence D. Hill et al. 2020. Gun ownership and sleep disturbance. Preventive Medicine 132: 105996; doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.105996