Southerners most likely to believe they can effectively protect themselves, least likely to believe that the police can keep them safe

New Avvo study explores beliefs surrounding personal safety, gun ownership, and the justice system in the South

Seattle, Wash — Oct. 27, 2015The latest Avvo, Inc. consumer perception study finds that more Southerners believe that they can effectively protect themselves with a firearm than other Americans. They are also the least likely to believe that the police can effectively keep them safe.

Nearly half (45%) of Southerners say if they had a gun and were in danger they could effectively defend themselves. This is significantly higher than the number of residents in other regions who believe they can protect themselves. Thirty eight percent (38%) of people living in the West, 34% of those in the Midwest, and 31% of those living in the Northeast agree. Tennesseans (54%) and Texans (53%) are most confident they can protect themselves with a gun among individuals in Southern states.

Also, fewer Southerners believe the police can keep them safe: only 26% of people living in the South believe this, as compared to 35% of Northeasterners, 32% of Westerners, and 31% of Midwesterners. But, just as many Southerners trust the police as individuals living in other states: 17% of Southerners say they completely trust the police, compared to 20% of those living in the Northeast, and 15% each in the Midwest and the West. Individuals in Virginia (25%), North Carolina (22%), and Florida (21%) are most likely to completely trust the police.

“Social science research has explored the possible relationship between faith in the police keeping people safe and the desire to buy a gun, and there seems to be something there,” said Nika Kabiri, JD, PhD, law and society analyst at Avvo. “If Southerners are less likely than others to turn to the police, they might be more likely to purchase handguns.”

As it happens, more Southerners own guns than residents of other states. Thirty percent (30%) of Southerners own guns, compared to 19% of people in the Northeast, and 29% of people living in both the Midwest and the West.

FBI statistics tell us that about 42% of all reported violent crimes occur in Southern states. Researchers have studied the impact of crime rates on gun ownership, and many have concluded that higher crime rates are associated with a desire to plan for the safest future possible, which for many includes buying a gun for protection,” Kabiri said.

However, although more Southerners own guns, Southerners don’t differ from those living in other regions in believing that gun ownership offers safety for the public at large. Sixteen percent of Southerners claim that society would generally be safer if more people owned guns. This is comparable to the percentage of people in other regions that say the same: 17% of Westerners, 15% of Midwesterners and 13% of Northeasterners.


Southerners support gun ownership, arming teachers and school security guards more than most Americans

Across a number of gun types, Southerners support legal gun ownership at higher or average rates than the rest of the country. In particular, 60% of Southerners believe that handguns should be legal, compared to 45% of people in the Northeast and 54% of people in the Midwest and West. Southerners also support owning semi-automatic weapons (23%) and assault weapons (16%) at the same rate as individuals in the West. Northeasterners support semi-automatic weapon ownership (14%) and assault weapon ownership (11%) at significantly lower rates.

When it comes to regulations surrounding guns, Southerners are more likely than any other region to support arming teachers, school officials, and security guards in schools. When asked if they support posting armed security guards in publics schools, 37% of Southerners agreed, compared with 27% of those in the Northeast and 26% of those in the Midwest and West. Similarly, 23% of Southerners believe teachers and school officials should be allowed to carry guns at work, compared with 12% of those in the Northeast, 18% of those in the Midwest, and 21% of those in the West.PS Charts_Attitudes on gun control laws_ownership


PS Charts_Attitudes on gun control laws

About this study

Avvo conducts periodic studies of issues and topics at the intersection of the law and society to better understand the dynamics facing individuals engaging with the legal system.

These are findings from an Avvo poll conducted in collaboration with Research Now in late August and early September 2015. A sample of 2600 U.S. adults (18 and over) were surveyed. The precision of Research Now online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points for all respondents. The data were weighted to the U.S. current population data by gender, age, and region based on Census data.

About Avvo, Inc.

Avvo is the leading online legal marketplace connecting consumers and lawyers. Avvo offers on-demand, affordable legal advice through Avvo Advisor®, which delivers a highly reviewed lawyer for 15 minutes over the phone – anytime, anywhere – available online or via a free app for iOS devices. In Avvo’s Q&A forum, consumers can get their legal questions answered for free by more than 230,000 participating lawyers or search more than 7.5 million previously asked questions and attorney provided answers. Avvo’s lawyer directory provides Avvo-rated profiles, client reviews, and peer endorsements for 97% of all lawyers in the U.S., so consumers can find the lawyer who’s right for them.  Avvo also helps lawyers grow their businesses with marketing tools and services including the Avvo JD App and Avvo Ignite, a cloud-based marketing platform designed specifically for attorneys.  Avvo, Avvo Advisor, Avvo JD App, and Avvo Ignite are trademarks or registered trademarks of Avvo, Inc.  Avvo was founded in 2006 and is based in Seattle, Wash.