Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Sheryl Strasser, PhD, MPH, MSW

Second Advisor

Emeka Oraka, MPH


Background: Gun violence in the United States is a public health threat without global parallel. Gun-related injury, disability, and death impact vulnerable populations disproportionately; women and youth, residents of impoverished cities and communities, and black males are most frequently the victims-which starkly contracts sociodemographic patterns associated with owners of guns. The purpose of the study is to determine associations between gun control policy support and sociodemographic characteristics, geographic region, and political views among gun owners in the US.

Methods: Cross-sectional national data pooled from 3 waves of the biennial General Social Survey administered from 2010 to 2014 were utilized to examine sociodemographic, geographic, and attitudinal differences among respondents who responded positively that they owned a personal firearm (N=2990). The main outcome measure included favor towards gun sale restrictions. Prevalence of gun ownership and support of gun control policy was examined calculated by age, gender, race/ethnicity, education, income, region of residence, and political views. Prevalence ratios and 95 percent confidence intervals were calculated based on logistic regression models.

Results: An estimated 33.5 percent of U.S. adults reported owning a gun while 73.3 percent were in favor of laws requiring a person to obtain a police permit before purchasing a gun. After adjusting for significant study variables, adults 65 of age or older, male, non-Hispanic white, earning $35,000 or more, residing in the Midwest or South, and with Conservative political views were more likely to own a gun than their respective counterparts. Additional characteristics that were found to be significantly associated in favor of permit laws before gun purchase included females, Non-Hispanic Black/Other, Hispanic, college graduates, residing in the Northeast, and siding with liberal political views.

Conclusions: The result of this investigation reveal characteristics among gun owners that are associated with support for gun restriction laws. Public health professionals can utilize these findings to development more tailored, culturally-sensitive gun violence prevention advocacy campaigns and outreach efforts.