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National attitudes concerning gun carrying in the United States
  1. D Hemenway,
  2. D Azrael,
  3. M Miller
  1. Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Hemenway


Objectives—To determine public attitudes in the United States concerning gun carrying.

Setting—In the past 15 years, many state legislatures have passed laws making it easier for United States citizens to carry concealed firearms, not only on the street but into various locations, including churches and government buildings.

Methods—National random digit dial telephone surveys conducted in 1996 and 1999 asked questions concerning the public's feelings of safety as more people in their community carry firearms, and whether, in the language of the question, respondents believe “regular” citizens should be allowed to carry guns into public or government buildings.

Results—Americans feel less safe rather than more safe as more people in their community begin to carry guns. By margins of at least nine to one, Americans do not believe that “regular” citizens should be allowed to bring their guns into restaurants, college campuses, sports stadiums, bars, hospitals, or government buildings.

Conclusions—The public believes that increased gun carrying by others reduces rather than increases their safety. Overwhelmingly, the public believes that in many venues gun carrying should be prohibited.

  • firearms
  • gun carrying
  • attitudes
  • surveys

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