KU News 10/12: Gap between gun owners and non-owners explains disparities in political attitudes, voting patterns

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Today’s News from the University of Kansas

 

From the Office of Public Affairs | http://www.news.ku.edu

 

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Gap between gun owners and non-owners explains disparities in political attitudes, voting patterns

LAWRENCE — Whether one views gun ownership as positive or negative is a matter of perspective. But according to new research, it’s the total number of guns a person owns that may define them politically. That’s one of many revelations in a University of Kansas professor’s new book titled “The Gun Gap” (Oxford University Press, 2020). This gap explains a wide range of political behaviors and attitudes, including voter choice and turnout, preferences for gun control policies and support for the death penalty.

 

Audio-Reader hosting donation drive Oct. 17

LAWRENCE — Kansas Audio-Reader will host a donation drive from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Lied Center of Kansas. The Audio-Reader Network’s annual benefit sale, For Your Ears Only, has transitioned to a series of monthly Facebook Live sales for this year, and the organization is seeking more sale items. The next Facebook Live sale is Thursday, Oct. 15.

 

KU joins industry partners to advance gas-separation with green materials first created for soda bottles

LAWRENCE — A $1 million, 18-month collaboration between the University of Kansas School of Engineering and the RAPID Manufacturing Institute for Process Intensification launched in 2017 by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers will develop technology to separate gas using renewable, high-performance furanic-based polymers that were originally developed for replacing PET-based soda bottles.

 

Dole Institute to livestream 2nd ‘A Conversation on Race’ event

LAWRENCE — The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced that it will livestream the second installment of its series “A Conversation on Race” at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 on the institute’s YouTube channel. The event will feature Puerto Rico Sen. Carmelo Ríos-Santiago, Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and former Kansas legislator Thomas Sloan, and it will be moderated by Barbara Ballard, senior associate director of the institute.

 

Public Management Center tapped by national transportation organization to lead trainings 

LAWRENCE — The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has chosen the University of Kansas Public Management Center to provide its annual professional development series for its membership beginning in 2021. Currently AASHTO works with two different organizations to provide the National Transportation Management Conference, the National Transportation Leadership Institute and the Transportation Advanced Leadership Institute.

 

Full stories below.

 

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Contact: Jon Niccum, KU News Service, 785-864-7633, [email protected]

Gap between gun owners and non-owners explains disparities in political attitudes, voting patterns

 

LAWRENCE — Whether one views gun ownership as positive or negative is a matter of perspective. But according to new research, it’s the total number of guns a person owns that may define them politically.

 

“The difference between owning a gun and not owning one and your likelihood of voting Republican is a fairly small probability. There’s a much larger probability between a person who owns one gun and another who owns 10 of voting for a Republican,” said Mark Joslyn, a professor of political science at the University of Kansas.

 

That’s one of many revelations in his new book titled “The Gun Gap” (Oxford University Press, 2020). This gap explains a wide range of political behaviors and attitudes, including voter choice and turnout, preferences for gun control policies and support for the death penalty.

 

Joslyn’s research finds those who are “deeper into gun culture,” as witnessed by the quantity of firearms they possess, display more qualities that match up with Republican voting preferences. However, this has been surprisingly downplayed during the current election cycle.

 

“If you look at the swing states today, Michigan is a significant gun state. Wisconsin is another. Arizona and Pennsylvania, as well. These states are on a knife’s edge right now, yet gun owners are rarely discussed as a group of importance. But you notice they truly are important when you examine the vote distributions. Even down the ballot, they stay with Republicans,” he said.

 

Another aspect covered in “The Gun Gap” is that owners are more likely to vote than non-owners. Such weapons are often threatened with new regulations, so owners become more aware of election dynamics for that reason. Gun owners also tend to stay in communities longer than non-gun owners, so they’re easier to locate and politically mobilize. They also belong to gun-owner groups, which again makes them accessible to mobilization.

 

“All those things put together make gun owners a formidable group that frankly has never been discussed in terms of its political implications,” he said.

 

Currently, nearly 40% of households contain some type of firearm, according to the Pew Research Center. And that number has risen significantly this year.

 

“Since the pandemic started, there’s been a historical run on guns, a buying frenzy like none other. It’s not even close to prior election years. It’s almost a 70% increase from last year,” Joslyn said.

 

He explains this is primarily because of the uncertainty associated with the pandemic and the protests. Many of these represent first-time owners.

 

“Obviously, if someone is a Democrat who bought a gun in March, they’re not going to run out and immediately vote for Trump or any other Republican. But my book does suggest future elections might be affected by this national increase in gun owners,” he said.

 

Under former President Barack Obama, weapons were bought because the gun community feared new regulations would make purchases more difficult. Then another surge happened again in 2016 when it was assumed Hillary Clinton would win the presidency.

 

“Now those same people are realizing there’s a strong possibility Trump loses, Biden comes in and gun laws are changed. You might see a secondary purchasing spree because of that anticipation of Biden winning,” Joslyn said.

 

With all these factors in play, the author is surprised this hasn’t become a bigger issue during the election.

 

“You saw at the last presidential debate (Sept. 29) that guns were not even discussed, and I don’t anticipate it being a major issue. It could have been one because Biden has an interesting history on guns laws and his current support for a ban on assault weapons,” Joslyn said.

 

“I think what you’ll see is very much the same or maybe a larger split between gun owners and non-owners in terms of their propensity to vote Republican at all levels of government. But we’re not going to see the kind of salience and rhetoric we saw in 2016 about guns.”

 

Joslyn has taught at KU since 1996, where he specializes in public opinion and political behavior. He’s published dozens of articles that explore this topic, including those intersecting with mass shootings and counterterrorism efforts.

 

Although he doesn’t personally possess a gun, he was astonished by the amount of friends, neighbors and colleagues who took note of this latest project, often whispering to him that they were owners themselves.

 

“Many of these people didn’t fit any of the stereotypes at all,” Joslyn said.

 

“Actually, this spree of gun buying is substantial among females since the pandemic hit, which saw a huge increase in women buying guns and attending training sessions,” he said. “So once you start digging into the actual numbers and getting past the stereotypes, you find the ownership question is broad enough to create a tremendously powerful political group if mobilized. For some elections, that happens. But most of the time it’s ignored.”

 

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Contact: Meredith Johanning, Kansas Audio-Reader Network, 785-864-4634, [email protected], @KUAudioReader

Audio-Reader hosting donation drive Oct. 17

 

LAWRENCE — Kansas Audio-Reader will host a donation drive from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17, at the Lied Center of Kansas. Donate your gently used audio equipment (modern and vintage), vinyl records, CDs, DVDs, cassette tapes and musical instruments. The Audio-Reader Network’s annual benefit sale, For Your Ears Only, has transitioned to a series of monthly Facebook Live sales for this year. Dates for the upcoming sales can be found here.

 

Audio-Reader will provide a contactless drop-off for items. Donors can choose to either remain in their car while Audio-Reader staff removes the items, or donors may place their items on tables provided. Per KU requirements, all Audio-Reader staff and donors must wear a mask during drop-off. Donors will receive a tax receipt. The most popular items at the sales are rock ‘n’ roll records, turntables and vintage audio equipment.

 

Audio-Reader’s next Facebook Live sale will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. This sale will feature audio equipment such as receivers, speakers and turntables as well as vinyl records. Darrel Brogdon, Kansas Public Radio program director and host of the “Retro Cocktail Hour,” will also make a guest appearance with a specially curated selection of Retro Cocktail Hour vinyl records. Customers tuning in to Audio-Reader’s Facebook Live page can comment “Sold” along with the item number to secure the desired item.

 

For more information about donating items during the donation drive, including what items are not accepted, visit the Audio-Reader website, or contact Meredith Johanning, Audio-Reader assistant development director, at [email protected].

 

Proceeds from the sale benefit Audio-Reader, a service organization providing free reading and information services for individuals who are blind and visually impaired. The University of Kansas has ceased direct funding to Audio-Reader, making fundraisers like these virtual benefit sales vital to Audio-Reader’s operation. Funds from the sale go directly to helping Audio-Reader listeners stay connected with their communities and live a life of personal independence.

 

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Contact: Brendan Lynch, KU News Service, 785-864-8855, [email protected], @BrendanMLynch

KU joins industry partners to advance gas-separation with green materials first created for soda bottles

 

LAWRENCE — A $1 million, 18-month collaboration between the University of Kansas School of Engineering and the RAPID Manufacturing Institute for Process Intensification launched in 2017 by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers will develop technology to separate gas using renewable, high-performance furanic-based polymers that were originally developed for replacing PET-based soda bottles.

 

The research is supported by a new $384,927 grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) and includes collaborations with DuPont, Hills Inc. and Air Products.

 

The investigation at KU, dubbed “Project H22020,” could result in membranes that reduce capital costs by a factor of 10 and increase hydrogen recovery by 20% while reducing both waste and the cost of separation by 20%. Such a breakthrough would be a boon to companies that refine oil and produce hydrogen fuel cells, replacing gas-separation technology used today made from materials developed in the 1970s and 1980s.

 

“These are furanic-based polymer membranes — it’s a new material that the DuPont Company is commercializing,” said Mark Shiflett, Foundation Distinguished Professor at the KU School of Engineering, who is leading the work. “Think of it as a new plastic. The ultimate reason that they’re making it is as a replacement for PET, the plastic that’s used to produce most beverage bottles. So, when you buy a two-liter Coke or liter of water, the bottle is made out of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) that ultimately comes from petroleum. These furanic-based polymers will replace PET to manufacture what are basically green water and soda bottles. These furanic-based polymers don’t come from petroleum but natural starting materials like fructose.”

 

The KU researcher said furanic polymers are an ideal material to use for industrial gas separation because they’re largely impermeable to larger gas molecules.

 

“Take like a soda bottle — the beverages in them are carbonated, and all the water and the sugar and flavorings are under pressure, carbonated with carbon dioxide,” Shiflett said. “You want a plastic that carbon dioxide doesn’t permeate through. Otherwise, all your soda bottles would be flat when you open them. And you don’t want oxygen to go in, because that can cause problems with taste and oxidation. You bottle the soda and stick it on a shelf someplace in the warehouse and then ultimately it gets delivered to a store, and a customer picks it up and, later on, they drink it. Well, that can be a pretty long time period — it could be months to possibly years between the time it was manufactured and the time you actually drank it. So, those plastics have to be really good in terms of keeping the CO2 in and keeping the O2 out. These new furanic polymers that DuPont is commercializing are natural based, which everybody wants. And, and they’re excellent at keeping the CO2 from leaking out and the O2 from going in.”

 

However, Shiflett said furanic-based membranes are in a sweet spot because they could allow smaller gas molecules to pass through, making them suitable for industrial-scale gas separation.

 

“We’re interested in studying them because we think that smaller molecules like hydrogen potentially can go through the plastic,” he said. “That allows you to make membranes out of them. One way hydrogen (H2) is made, you can end up with CO and CO2 as impurities. Then you have to purify that H2 — so we think that these new polymers will allow the H2 to go through them, but it won’t allow other gases like CO2, CO and methane (CH4). These polymers are going to be an excellent way of purifying H2 for a lot of different industries, especially in the refining industry for making cleaner burning fuels, for hydrogen fuel cells and for making electricity.”

 

Shiflett’s lab at KU will conduct experiments with furanic-based membranes as a proof-of-concept in coordination with industry leaders in the polymers, polymer processing and gas separation technologies.

 

“DuPont is donating the membranes to us,” Shiflett said. “Then, Hills is a company that takes the polymer and spins it into hollow fibers to be used in membrane modules for doing gas separations. Air Products is one of the world leaders in gas separations. They’ll help us with assessing whether the gas separations that we’re studying in our lab are good enough to be used commercially, because that’s what they do for customers like NASA.”

 

Work in Shiflett’s lab will focus on polymer selection, hollow-fiber development, material characterization and membrane testing for mixed hydrogen streams — for example, hydrogen and carbon monoxide, hydrogen and carbon dioxide, and hydrogen and nitrogen. Chemical & petroleum engineering doctoral student Abby Harders (a KU Chancellor’s Fellow) and chemical & petroleum engineering undergraduate Erin Sturd are performing the measurements. Brian Laird, professor of chemistry at KU, and his doctoral student, Micah Welsch, are conducting molecular simulations to model the results and guide the experiments. Alan Allgeier, associate professor of chemical & petroleum engineering, and David Griffin, lab professor of chemical & petroleum engineering, are characterizing the membrane materials with analytical techniques, and Kyle Camarda associate professor of chemical & petroleum engineering, and his undergraduate researcher in computer science, Jake Wagner, are developing optimization routines to evaluate thousands of different furanic-polymer compositions.

 

If the research at KU under the grant produces a successful method to separate gases with furanic-based membranes, Shiflett said his lab then would work with its industry partners to bring the technology to the marketplace. According to BCC Research Market Forecasting Group, the gas separation market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9% in the coming decade.

 

“We have 18 months to prove the concept works,” he said. “Once the lab work is complete, we will work with Hills and Air Products to pilot and ultimately commercialize the new furanic-based membranes.

 

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Don’t miss new episodes of “When Experts Attack!,”

a KU News Service podcast hosted by Kansas Public Radio.

 

https://kansaspublicradio.org/when-experts-attack

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Contact: Zac Walker, Dole Institute of Politics, 785-864-9319, [email protected]@DoleInstitute

Dole Institute to livestream 2nd ‘A Conversation on Race’ event

 

LAWRENCE — The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics at the University of Kansas has announced that it will livestream the second installment of its series “A Conversation on Race” at 7 p.m. Oct. 21 on the institute’s YouTube channel. The event will feature Puerto Rico Sen. Carmelo Ríos-Santiago, Washington State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos and former Kansas legislator Thomas Sloan, and it will be moderated by Barbara Ballard, senior associate director of the institute.

 

“The problem of racism in this country is multifaceted and complex,” said Bill Lacy, director of the Dole Institute. “As we move forward in this series, we want to address additional communities and how racism affects them. For the second installment of ‘A Conversation on Race,’ we will discuss Asian-Pacific and Hispanic concerns. We look forward to another insightful, respectful and important discussion with a stellar panel of guests.”

 

Ríos-Santiago is the current majority leader of the Puerto Rico State Senate. In 2004, he was elected as one of the youngest senators of his class, representing the Bayamón District of Puerto Rico, and he chaired the Municipal and Financial Affairs Committee. He was elected in 2018 as president of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, a nonprofit organization representing over 400 elected Hispanic state legislators throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. During his tenure, he was also part of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

 

Santos was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in 1998. She chairs the House Education Committee and serves on the House Capital Budget Committee and Consumer Protection & Business Committee. She has received numerous awards for her legislative and community work, including the Kip Tokuda Community Leadership Award from the Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation and the Leadership and Vision Award from Junior Achievement of Washington.

 

Sloan served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1995 to 2019. He chaired the Water & Environment and the Government, Technology & Security committees. His primary policy areas are high-quality water access, renewable energy, telemedicine, distance education and economic opportunities, to name a few. He has received the Legislative Environmental Stewardship Award from the Kansas Wildlife Federation, the Legislative Leadership Award from the Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns and Outstanding Legislator from the Kansas Rural Water Association, among others.

 

This special program will be livestreamed to the institute’s YouTube channel and to its website. Due to continuing concerns regarding the novel coronavirus pandemic, the program will only be available online. Follow the Dole Institute on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for updates regarding this and future programming.

 

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The official university Twitter account has changed to @UnivOfKansas.

Refollow @KUNews for KU News Service stories, discoveries and experts.

 

http://www.twitter.com/kunews

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Contact: Ruth Dewitt, School of Public Affairs & Administration, 785-864-2554, [email protected], @KUSPAA

Public Management Center tapped by national transportation organization to lead trainings 

 

LAWRENCE — The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) has chosen the University of Kansas Public Management Center (KU PMC) to provide its annual professional development series for its membership beginning in 2021.

 

Currently AASHTO works with two different organizations to provide the National Transportation Management Conference, the National Transportation Leadership Institute and the Transportation Advanced Leadership Institute. The PMC bid on the competitive proposal by rebranding the programs as three similarly named institutes under the AASHTO brand. Participants can progress through the three programs as their careers advance or take part in any one institute as a stand-alone development opportunity.

 

Starting in 2021, the PMC will oversee the AASHTO Management Institute, a four-day program hosted in various locations around the country; the AASHTO Leadership Institute, a nine-day leadership program held on the KU Lawrence campus, and the AASHTO Executive Institute, a four-day program held in Washington, DC.

 

Working in the PMC’s favor was its promise to honor AASHTO’s training legacy while modernizing the sessions with up-to-date training techniques and current best practices.

 

“We are excited to be partnering with the University of Kansas team to bring the next era of leadership development training to the DOT community,” said Brandye Hendrickson, AASHTO’s deputy director. “Their approach honors the great tradition of AASHTO leadership development while demonstrating a deep understanding of state DOT challenges and opportunities with an eye to the future.”

 

Deb Miller, director of the Public Management Center, said she was pleased to have received the nod from AASHTO. She believed from the beginning that combining a team of transportation leaders, members of the AASHTO community and meeting planners with the PMC’s expertise in public sector service and adult education made for a strong proposal.

 

Miller had a 30-year career in transportation before coming to the PMC last May.

 

“I thought being familiar with AASHTO’s training needs, the quality of professional development curriculum it expects and the commitment to public service professionals on behalf of the PMC made ours a competitive proposal. It is wonderful to be granted the opportunity,” Miller said.  “Our team has the background and skills necessary to deliver an impactful, transformative experience to AASHTO member departments, affiliates and DOT participants.”

 

While individual programs vary in topics and depth, all three institutes promise to help participants learn to better manage their work and employees, highlight the value of leadership, provide the opportunity for self-reflection and development, and better understand the transportation issues of the day.

 

More details regarding the courses and registration and application processes will be released in early 2021.

 

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