PP Claremont Graduate University Youngsun Hwang Ibrahim Kosar Abstract

 

PP 481 Quantitative Research Methods

Final Paper

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The Relationship Between

Gun Permit and the Level of Education

 

 

 

 

 

Claremont Graduate University

 

Youngsun Hwang

Ibrahim Kosar

 

Abstract

            The right of the citizens of gun
ownership as an internal policy of the USA is a very contentious and current
issue.  However, the debate on the right
in terms of keeping and bearing guns has been continuing for a long time in the
USA. Some people would even assert that it has reached a stalemate (Teret, et
al, 1998). According to research conducted in 2007, USA has the highest
national rate of civilian firearm ownership with 90% (Small Arm Survey News,
2007). In the year of 2017, 14,481 people were killed and 29,388 people were
wounded by guns in USA (Gun Violence Archive, 2017). All this information
indicates how serious this issue is for the USA. It is very clear that the
people in the USA are divided into two categories as to whether the laws
permitting gun ownership should change or not. In this sense, it is very
important to understand what factors affect the opinion of people on gun
ownership. The main purpose of this research paper is to study what people
think about laws — including the constitutional amendment (Bill of Rights,
Second Amendment) — allowing them to keep and bear guns while considering their
educational level. For the purpose, data was sourced from GSS data explorer
website for the year 2014 and a chi-squared test was performed with
standardized residuals. It was found that there was an association between the
level of education and favoring of the gun permit since  and the observed standardized residuals of
each cells were larger than 2. There have been many research studies in gun permit as part of crime
rate. However, a study to assess the association of level of education towards
the opinion about the laws permitting gun ownership, as a specific case, seems
to be lacking.

 

Introduction

The
right of gun ownership as an internal policy of the USA is very contentious and
current issue. The US Constitution protects this right (1791, Bill of Rights,
Second Amendment). This amendment allows the individuals to own their firearms
and they may have their gun for their self-defense. On the other hand, although
it is the constitutional right, its form and content differ from state to
state. However, the debate on the right in terms of keeping and bearing guns
has been continuing for a long time in the USA. According to research conducted
in 2007 by Small Arm Survey about gun ownership, the USA has the highest
national rate of civilian firearm ownership with 90% (Small Arm Survey News,
2007). It is a very high percentage in terms of weapon possession for any country.
As for the consequences of the gun violence, just in the year of 2017 until
now, 14,481 people were killed and 29,388 people were wounded by guns in the
USA (Gun Violence Archive, 2017). Former President Obama explains on his
twitter that “Here are the stats: Per population, we kill each other with guns
at a rate 297x more than Japan, 49x more than France, 33x more than Israel (Obama,
2015).” All this information indicates how serious this issue is for the US.

In
this context, whenever a mass shooting take place in USA, suddenly gun laws
debate become hot in the media, the Congress, and the White House. For example,
the three major mass shootings in the past two years are instances that
increased conversation of the problem of gun violence; Las Vegas shooting
resulting in 58 deaths in 2017 (Martin, 2017), Texas shooting causing 25 deaths
in 2017 (Edelman, 2017), and Orlando shooting giving rise to 49 deaths in 2016
(Bradner, 2016). In this sense, some people object the regulation allowing
people to keep and bear gun easily for the country’s security by looking at
this mass shooting and want a change in the law, whereas others think that gun
ownership is also necessary for the security of individual by propounding the
constitutional amendment. It is very clear that the people in the USA are
divided into two categories as to whether the laws permitting gun ownership
should change or not. Some people would even assert that it has reached a
stalemate (Teret S.P, et al, 1998) It shows one thing, that as long as the
deaths from gun violence and laws permitting gun ownership exist this issue
will go on to be discussed by both sides vehemently.

In
this sense, it is very important to understand what factors affect the opinion
of people on gun ownership. Most research carried out in the past has focused
on whether there is a relationship between the education level and crime rate
in USA (For example see Lochner L, Moretti E, 2003).  According to this research, there is a
negative correlation between the education level and crime rates since as the
level of education increases the crime rate will decrease. The authors (2003)
argue that through education, people will be directed those channels which
would result in a negative relationship between education and crimes.  It seems, therefore, that there is an
association between the level of education and the opinion on the necessity of
gun ownership. The main purpose of this research paper is to study what people
think about laws allowing them to keep and bear guns while considering their
educational level. That is to say, this study hypothesizes that people in the
USA will oppose or favor gun ownership permits as the level of education goes
up.

 

Research

For
the purpose, raw data from 1972 to 2016 was sourced from the GSS data explorer
website by selecting the categorical variables “degree” describing the
respondent’s highest degree, and “gunlaw” describing the response of the
respondents to the question “Do you favor or oppose gun permit?” In this
research, since these two variables are both categorical data, the five
summaries of variables don’t have any meaningful explanation except the mode is
high school, who responded their highest degree is high school. The raw data
were cleaned due to missing observations, after which there were 40,352
observations left. Subsequently, Chi-squared test was performed along with
residual test for finding the strength of the association in each level of
degree. According to our research question, to know whether there is
relationship between people’s emotion to gun permit and the level of education,
we ran the graph above using GSS data. Dependent variable is opinion to gun
permit and independent variable is the level of education. In the graph below,
it seems like there is slight positive relationship between 2 variables.

       Figure 1. Favor or Oppose Gun Permit
according to Respondent’s Highest Degree

To
know exactly whether there is relationship between the variable favor or oppose
gun permit and the variable education level, we used chi-squared test as test
statistic because we have relatively large sample size. Null hypothesis is 2
variables are independent and alternative hypothesis is that those 2 variables
we used are dependent.

 
Table
1
Chi-squared table for Favor or Oppose gun permits according to the level of
education

 

Favor or
Oppose gun permits

Favor

Oppose

Total

Lower than High
School

6,875 (7,009.1)

2,293 (2,158.9)

9,168

High School

15,524 (15,779)

5,115 (4,860)

20,639

Junior College

1,623 (1,597.9)

467 (492.1)

2,090

Bachelor

4,446 (4,388.2)

1,163 (1,320.8)

5,609

Graduate

2,382 (2,175.8)

464 (670.2)

2,846

Total

30,850

9,502

40,352

Pearson
chi2 = 137.6991, P-value = 0.000
 
*Note: Observed frequency (expected frequency if two variables are
independent)
 

 

According
to the chi-squared table above, Pearson Chi-Squared statistic equals to 137.6991.
The right-tail probability above observed chi-squared, which is also called
p-value equals to 0.000, at degrees of freedom 4. This provides extremely
strong evidence against the null hypothesis in that the number of test
statistic is large. As illustrated in Agresti p. 219, relatively larger  means the stronger evidence against the null
hypothesis, which is two variables are independent. If those 2 variables were statistically
independent, it would be unusual for a random sample to have large test
statistic. In addition to this, reported p-value is 0, which is very small, and
it will be smaller than any ?-level normally used. To be specific, when ?-level
is 0.01, because the ?-level is smaller than p-value, we can reject the null
hypothesis that the variables gun permit and the level of education are
statistically independent. In other words, it seems likely that gun permit and
the level of education have relationship between them.

However,
according to Agresti, chi-squared test provides researchers limited information—it
does not tell researchers how strong association the variables have or what
direction of the effect they have, which might be more interested to
researchers. Chi-squared test only implies whether there is any relationship
between the variables, which needs stronger statistical method. Moreover, since
two variables used in this research are both categorical data, it is important
to know the association between each category, rather than treating variables
as a whole and generally testing them. So, for this reason, to get detailed
information, we will use standardized residuals besides chi-squared test.

 
Table 2 Standardized residuals for favor
or oppose gun permit according to respondent’s education level
 

 

Favor
or oppose gun permits (Standardized residuals)

 

Favor

Oppose

Lower than High
School

6,875 (-3.756)

2,293 (3.756)

High School

15,524 (-5.985)

5,115 (5.985)

Junior College

1,623 (1.331)

467 (-1.331)

Bachelor

4,446 (5.352)

1,163 (-5.352)

Graduate

2,382 (9.448)

464 (-9.448)

 
*Note: Observed frequency (Standardized residuals)
 

 

Inspecting
table 2, the standardized residuals
are useful for seeing if an observed frequency in a cell varies significantly
from what independence predicts. Negative residuals mean the observed value in
that cell is smaller than what is expected if the variables are independent and
positive residuals mean the observed value in that cell is larger than what is
expected if the variables are independent. As mentioned in Agresti p. 227, larger
standardized residuals provide evidence against independence for that
particular cell. Anything larger than 2 in absolute value is usually sufficient
evidence, and anything larger than 3 in absolute value provides very convincing
evidence against the null for that particular cell. In terms of this, except
the cell ‘Junior College’, all the cell in table
2 shows standardized residuals larger than 3, which is very convincing evidence
to reject the idea of independence in each cell. Therefore, it can be concluded
that there is an association between the level of education and the opinion
that the favoring of the law allowing people to keep gun and this association
was positive; that is, with the increase in the level of education people are
more in favor of gun permit, not gun regulation.

 

Conclusion

The
result showed that there is an association between the level of education and
the attitude to gun permit and this association was positive; that is, with the
increase in the level of education the percentage of the people favoring gun
permits also increased. Surprisingly, (legal ownership)it contradicts with previous
research results indicating the negative relationship between educational level
and crime rate. In this sense, we could infer that gun ownership does not mean
people who want to have a gun tend to commit a crime in the USA. In other
words, they may have other different plausible reasons for gun ownership such
as sports shooting, gun collection, and hunting.

According to the chi-squared test,
there is a relationship between the level of education and favor of gun permit.
In addition to this, the standardized residual test also showed there is a
relationship between these two variables.

Furthermore,
this indicates how future research modeled. In this study, we ignored some
observations such as “not applicable” as a response to the opinion on gun
permission accounting for 33% of all observations since we get the data from
GSS database and could not understand what exactly it means. This percentage is
too large to neglect it. Accordingly, it may affect the results. Besides this
missing point, further research should be conducted in order to determine the
underlying factors influencing the opinion on gun permits such as political
affiliation, gender, religion and the like.

 

References

Agresti, A. 2017.
Statistical Methods for the Social Sciences, 5th ed. Pearson: Upper Saddle
River, NJ.

Study: GSS
1972-2016 Cumulative Datafile. (n.d.). Retrieved November 26, 2017,

Retrieved from
http://sda.berkeley.edu/sdaweb/analysis/?dataset=gss16

Bradner E. (2016,
June). Orlando shooting sparks gun control, language debates. CNN, Retrieved
from
http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/politics/orlando-shooting-gun-control-islamic-terrorism/index.html

Edelman A. (2017,
November) Texas Church Shooting: Democrats Demand Gun Control, NBC NEWS
Retrieved from
https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/texas-church-shooting/texas-church-shooting-democrats-demand-gun-control-n817851

Gun Violence
Archive, (2017), Retrieved from http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

Lochner L, Moretti
E, (2003) The Effect of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison inmates,
Arrests, and Self-Reports The American Economic Review 94(1), (Mar., 2004), pp.
155-189

Martin G. (2017,
October) After Las Vegas shooting, Congress debates gun control again Las Vegas
Review- Journal Retrieved from

After Las Vegas shooting, Congress debates gun control again

Obama, B. (2015,
June 20), Here are the stats: Per population, we kill each other with guns at a
rate 297x more than Japan, 49x more than France, 33x more than Israel.

Teret S.P, et all,
(1998), Support for New Policies to Regulate Firearms — Results of Two National
Surveys, The New England Journal of Medicine, Doi: 10.1056/NEJM199809173391206

Small Arm Survey
news, (2007), New Armed Actors Research Note: Estimating Civilian Owned
Firearms, Retrieved from
http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/about-us/highlights/highlight-research-note-9-estimating-civilian-owned-firearms.html
Retrieved from https://twitter.com/potus44/status/612437042207834112?lang=en