The need for safety and beliefs about guns

Gabrielle Pogge, Nikolette P. Lipsey, Joy E. Losee, James A. Shepperd

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Why are Americans so divided on guns policies? We examine this question within the context of the campus carry debate-whether people should be allowed to carry concealed firearms on college campuses. Our central thesis is that a basic psychological need-the need to feel safe-underlies both support for and opposition to policies such as campus carry. Importantly, whereas some people perceive guns as a source of safety, others perceive guns as a threat to safety. In this chapter we discuss evidence demonstrating how these opposing perceptions correspond with support for campus carry legislation and with a variety of other attitudes, beliefs, and expectations regarding the consequences of legalizing campus carry. We also discuss how examining opposing views on guns in terms of the need for safety reframes the gun debate and suggests new approaches to building understanding and compromise across the gun divide. Ultimately, this re-framing may inform policies to reduce gun violence in the United States. Finally, we discuss the broader policy implications of this framing of the gun debate and stress the importance of considering the safety needs of all people, not simply one group or the other, when crafting legislation to address gun violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationWhy We Are Losing the War on Gun Violence in the United States
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9783030555139
ISBN (Print)9783030555122
StatePublished - Dec 9 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Medicine
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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