African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Latinos support gun measures more than any other racial group, according to a new Pew Research Center study.
The study, which surveyed more than 5,000 Americans, found that gun violence is seen as a major problem across the board and that most Americans support stronger gun laws, but that strengthening safety laws is more important to some communities than others.
«Attitudes toward guns are complex,» said Carroll Doherty, Pew’s director of political research. «When you get to the fundamental division over gun ownership and what it does for the safety of the United States, you see that this even divides.»
But one of the most surprising findings in his report was the differences in attitudes between racial groups, he said. Support among minority communities for tightening gun restrictions was dramatically higher than among whites.
Black adults show the greatest support for stricter gun laws at 77%, followed by Asians at 74%, Latinos at 68% and Whites at 51%.
Asian adults show the highest levels of support for raising the minimum gun ownership age to 21 (71%), as well as for banning assault weapons (62%). Black and Asian adults were also the strongest opponents of a law that allows so-called concealed carry and shortens waiting periods to buy guns.
The variations can be explained by many factors, experts said, including exposure to gun violence in everyday life, gun laws in immigrants’ home countries and experience with state-sponsored violence.
Among Asian Americans, the only group in the US who has a majority immigrant populationHigh support for the gun measures could be attributed to strict gun laws in much of Asia, experts said.
“Most Asian immigrants come from countries where there are not only strict laws around things like assault weapons, but also strict gun ownership laws, period,” said Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and co-director of AAPI Data. “They have not grown up in contexts where there is a lot of gun ownership. Gun ownership is related to attitudes toward gun control.”
For black communities, which experience disproportionate levels of gun violence in the US, support for gun safety measures is often personal.
“In the black community, a lot of that comes from lived experience: the real risk of being a victim of gun violence,” Ramakrishnan said.
There are also variations within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community, he said. For refugees or those who were born in countries with violent governments, attitudes towards guns may look different. In Vietnamese communities, for example, support for the restrictions is lower, according to the 2022 Asian American Voter Poll.
“Refugee populations are more likely to have lived in a context where there was not only armed violence, but also military violence, war,” Ramakrishnan said. “The need or the feeling that people need to protect themselves is greater.”
Other data shows that gun ownership has increased among black, Latino and Asian Americans. Experts told Axios that the increase is likely due to factors such as anti-Asian hatred, police brutality and rising homicide numbers in some major cities.
Doherty said that one of the biggest disagreements when it comes to the gun debate has to do with party lines.
“A large portion of Americans want more gun restrictions, but when it comes to the bottom line about gun ownership, do you do more to increase or decrease safety? — That is the root of the division, ”she said.