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Harvard IOP Youth Poll Finds Majority of Young Americans Support Stricter Gun Laws

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A new Harvard Institute of Politics poll found that 63 percent of young Americans support stricter gun laws, according to early results released Tuesday.

The results, taken from the IOP’s biannual poll of Americans aged 18 to 29, showed a majority support stricter gun control even across different demographics, including gender, race, and education status. The full results of the poll, conducted by the IOP’s Public Opinion Project and written by Harvard undergraduates, will be released in April.

The IOP released its preliminary findings following a shooting at a Nashville elementary school Monday that left three children and three adults dead. IOP Polling Director John Della Volpe said in an interview that the release’s timing was intended to accompany “renewed conversations about gun violence” in the wake of the shooting.

The majority of respondents to the IOP’s Youth Poll have supported stricter gun control laws since 2018, when 64 percent of young Americans said they favored additional restrictions.

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This marked a major spike from 2013 — the previous time the poll asked about gun control — which showed that 49 percent of young Americans supported stricter laws around gun control.

Ethan L. Jasny ’25, student chair of the Harvard Public Opinion Project, said he believes the major shift between 2013 and 2018 was caused by the gun control movement — which included the founding of national advocacy group March for Our Lives — following the Parkland, Florida, school shooting in 2018.

“Those protests after Parkland, March for Our Lives, was really a galvanizing movement for our generation that led to higher turnout in 2018, 2020,” Jasny said. “But the point is that is possibly one of the moments when awareness about gun issues was highest, so the fact that those numbers are tracking from then, when we asked these questions in the last couple of weeks before the Nashville shooting, just shows how salient this continues to be.”

David M. Hogg ’23, a Parkland survivor and founder of March for Lives, said the poll shows consistent support among young Americans for stricter gun laws.

“The poll shows that clearly we’re at a tipping point in this country with our generation on this issue, that Gen Z is making the difference on gun violence prevention,” Hogg said. “Our opinions are not going up and down at the news cycle because this is a daily reality for us, during our lives, in our schools and our communities.”

“Not only are we voting at the highest rates in American history of any generation, at our age, we’re voting clearly in one direction,” Hogg said.

The poll also found 47 percent of young Americans felt “down, depressed, or hopeless” for at least several days in the two weeks prior. These respondents were more likely to report being “afraid, as if something awful is about to happen,” and “worried about a potential mass shooting when in a public space.”

“What is safe to say is that given the frequency of mass shootings, even when they aren’t directly in the headlines, again, mass shootings are certainly something that’s contributing to the mental health crisis for young Americans,” Jasny said.

“This policy issue is, I think, closely related to the broader mental health issue we see facing our generation,” he added.

—Staff writer Asher J. Montgomery can be reached at asher.montgomery@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @asherjmont.

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