A national debate is stirring surrounding guns - who should have them and who shouldn’t, who should control or limit them. Regardless of political affiliation, this issue is extremely controversial due to recent tragic events involving school shootings.
Dialog surrounding the issue online has been divided, with millions expressing opinions. We’ve analyzed these conversations, looking for opinion and insight into the feelings being shared around gun control.
First, we’ve measured sentiment, or expressed tone, in these discussions over the past year, looking for strength of support (green) versus opposition (red).
Following the deadly movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado on July 20, 2012, online discussion surrounding guns and new gun legislation rose prominently, but then quickly subdued. Similarly in December, the online chatter after a gunman killed Sandy Hook Elementary students and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut grew immensely.
As you can see in the chart below, when comparing the months of July and December, conversations surrounding gun rights, gun legislation, and gun control are significantly higher than the previous months. However, conversations surrounding gun debates after Sandy Hook still continue to be steadily present in a large amount of conversations happening online.
Although we all know that Aurora was an equally devastating event, people tend to be more proactive when children are affected, ergo the immense spike and consistency in conversation surrounding gun rights and gun control after the Sandy Hook catastrophe took the lives of twenty innocent children.
After analyzing online conversation around gun rights and gun control, we thought it would be interesting to take a deeper look into the declared reasons Americans own firearms.
These conversations fell into four main categories:
- Target/skeet shooting
In most online dialogue, protection or self defense was mentioned most often, followed by collecting.
The gun debate is just getting started. With conversations happening at all hours of the day and night, averaging several comments per second, Americans are never shy about having their voices heard. It will be interesting to see the outcome of this very controversial, yet important issue.
If you want to see how public opinion on gun rights and gun control have changed over the past 20 years, click here to read up on a Pew Research study.