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In this article we theorize that partisanship is such a strong filter of information that it can affect how individuals make sense of their lived environment and how the geographic experience informs policy attitudes. As a result, although “independents” tend to be less politically knowledgeable and have less developed policy opinions, their policy attitudes on gun control are more informed by their lived experience than partisans.


We use data from an original survey of American adults about crime and gun control linked to crime statistics from the FBI.


We find that stronger partisanship leads to resistance to information from the lived environment in the development of policy attitudes about gun control.


Democrats and Republicans have very different views about guns and, generally, these priorities are relatively unaffected by contextual experience; however, gun policy attitudes of independents are highly correlated with the level of gun crime in their geographic context.