An online survey was administered in April 2022 among college students to gauge familiarity with laws, initiatives, and organizations around firearms and gun violence prevention.
Familiarity and exposure
Findings from the SD4GVP Spring 2022 College Survey Project showed that 60% of respondents have been exposed to violence involving a firearm or know someone who has. Most respondents (55%) stated that they don’t believe there are enough gun violence prevention talks or events on campus. When asked about feeling safe on campus, respondents were nearly equally split among feeling very safe (34%), somewhat safe (34%), or unsafe (32%).
College students who took the survey had mixed knowledge about initiatives or laws involving firearms. While a vast majority of respondents were familiar with background checks (87%), fewer knew about safe storage laws (34%), ghost guns (26%), or Gun Violence Restraining Orders (17%). Nearly 3 out of 4 respondents (74%) correctly stated that the US averages one mass shooting per day, yet 74% of respondents were unaware that 4.6 million American children live in a home with an unlocked and loaded firearm.
Respondents suggested ways their university could help prevent gun violence including more education, more workshops, guest speakers, or events to raise awareness about gun violence.
“We should educate [students] more on the topic.”
“Maybe teaching about gun violence in at least one class a student takes as a requirement.”
Other suggestions included more open communication and information on statistics about gun violence.
“[The university] could talk about gun violence prevention, express concern about the situation.”
Overall, respondents expressed a desire to discuss gun violence and initiate change.
“The biggest thing is to talk about it. Make it widely known and tell people to vote for change, [vote for] gun violence prevention laws.”
Knowing the organizations and getting active
College-aged respondents are not very familiar with gun violence prevention organizations. Of the national organizations, 13% of respondents recognized Moms Demand Action, 6% recognized Everytown for Gun Safety, and 4% recognized Brady. San Diegans for Gun Violence Prevention (SD4GVP) was recognized by 11% of respondents. Only Sandy Hook Promise had notable name recognition at 40%. Most respondents, 53%, had no familiarity with any gun violence prevention organization.
A lack of familiarity with GVP organizations does not mean a lack of action. 79% of respondents said they will vote for candidates who support sensible firearm legislation. Another 23% said they will donate time, talent, or funds to organizations that help end gun violence. However, only 9% of respondents said they would join a gun violence prevention organization.
Sandra Weinstein Bever, PhD
SD4GVP Internship Coordinator, 2020-2022.
SD4GVP Spring 2022 College Survey Project Lead