Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date



This paper uses political framing theory to analyze the messages employed by different gun lobby groups during the early 2013 debate on gun control legislation proposed in the United States Congress. I asked two questions with my research. First, what type of political action frames did gun interest groups use in the debate over expanded background checks in the spring of 2013? Second, which frames affected public opinion regarding expanded background checks for gun purchases? I use a mixed-methods research approach to answer these questions. First, I conducted a content analysis of both pro- and anti-gun control messaging that came from the major gun lobby groups during the early part of 2013. Second, I conducted a survey experiment in which individuals were randomly assigned one of four potential frames, and I analyzed the effects of these frames on attitudes towards background checks. The paper finds that pro-gun control interest groups frame gun control in the context of safety and emotions, while anti-gun control groups use an anti-elite argument against expanded background checks. In addition, I find that there is high support for expanded background checks no matter which frame is presented to individuals, but using the Second Amendment in a negative framing fashion does somewhat diminish support.


Brian Newman and Candice Ortbals, advisers.

Library Research Award Honorable Mention (2014)

See author's related presentation slides.

Alexander Booker Reflective Essay.docx (161 kB)
Library Research Award Essay