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October 2, 2017

Attitudes toward abortion and gun laws are not well correlated in the public

Filed under: abortion,guns — Razib Khan @ 8:01 pm

Because of recent tragic events there has been some talk about the relationship between abortion rights and gun laws. Basically, the idea is that those who are pro-life also reject restrictions on guns.

I don’t see a strong relationship. In the GSS I limited the data to 2010 and later. I looked at the variables GUNLAW, ABANY and ABRAPE. If it’s not clear the latter two variables relate to abortion, and the first to gun permits. Though pro-life people are more skeptical of gun permits, the difference is minor:

In 2006 a question was asked if semi-automatic weapons should be allowed to be sold to the public. The qualitative result was similar in that there was no major relationship to abortion; about 15% of the public no matter their opinion on abortion favored selling semi-automatic rifles to the public.

Obviously, this is surprising if you follow politics. But politics in the United States is about coalitions, and the politicians who favor liberalism in gun rights do not favor liberalism in abortion rights, and vice versa, because of the interest group alignments. Nevertheless, we need to be cautious about assuming there is some deep philosophical relationship that bubbles up from the grassroots. There isn’t.

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