Study Finds Guns Lead to More Violent Protests
A new study has found that armed protests are six times more likely to turn violent than protests without guns.
Although the vast majority of protests in America are peaceful, according to a new study that analyzed more than 30,000 public demonstrations in the U.S. over the past 18 months, armed protests are six times more likely to turn violent than protests without guns.
This doesn’t bode well for the recent rise in protests, after a brief cooling off period following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, reports USA Today. The proportion of protests at which people are armed doubled from February to June, and that spike is expected to continue.
“This is the first time since our coverage began at the start of 2020 that we’ve seen such a continuous increase for so many months,” Roudabeh Kishi, director of research and innovation for the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, told the publication.
Further, the study examined 560 demonstrations where protesters were armed. In about one of every six of those events, violent or destructive activity happened. Conversely, at protests without guns, one out of 37 turned violent.
“Contrary to claims that the presence of guns in public spaces makes people safer, demonstrations involving at least one armed individual tend to be violent or destructive 16% of the time,” the report said.
Researchers say the increase in violent demonstrations, particularly in states where carrying guns is legal, can be traced back to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. More than half of all armed protests happened three months after Floyd’s death.
The report shows that protesters at both ends of the political spectrum are responsible for violent or destructive activity. However, demonstrations involving right-wing militias or militant social movements became violent or destructive more than twice as often as Black Lives Matter protests (nearly 14% compared to 6%). Despite the difference in propensity for violence, Black Lives Matter demonstrations were policed much more heavily than events involving organizations such as the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers.
More than 100 of the armed protests occurred at government buildings, including statehouses, vote-counting centers and the U.S. Capitol, the study found. Twelve of those protests turned violent.