On social media everything is up for discussion, including guns. While there is some controversy around the sale of guns on social sites, this doesn’t stop people talking about them. Instagram has become a very popular gun discussion location, according to a report from NetQuote.com.
NetQuote scraped Instagram for 12 gun-related hashtags, analyzed almost 6 million total posts and nearly half a million geotagged posts containing one or more of the 12 hashtags, taking into account frequency in each state per 100,000 posts and cross-referenced the data with CDC firearm mortality rates. #Guns was excluded as it was the most popular tag found.
The top five states with the highest hashtag usage per 100k residents were Nevada, Hawaii, Florida, Arizona and Oregon. The lowest usage states were Iowa, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Minnesota. It’s likely that both lists are shifted somewhat by relative population size and Instagram use in those states.
When correlating firearm-related hashtags per state with the number of gun deaths, it follows quite closely with high hashtag use. Hawaii, Florida and Nevada appear on both lists. Rhode Island and California appear in this top five, but that’s largely because these states are reacting negatively to firearm related fatalities on Instagram than posting positively.
When examining popular hashtags that appear alongside #Gun in different states, a total of 15 states used #shooting, but it’s unclear if users were talking about a mass shooting, or other activities like target shooting or hunting. Most states simply add the name of their state along with their gun hashtags. Some states have much clearer results; Florida likes #GunPorn, Oklahoma is home to #GunFanatics, and Mississippi likes the #AR15, a type of rifle.
Overall, gun related hashtags have increased greatly on Instagram over the last number of years. Prior to June of 2013 there were, on average, less than 2,000 gun related hashtags on Instagram, but that number has climbed quickly since then. Mid-2014, around the time of the Fort Hood shootings, hashtag use exceeded 4,000 for the first time, and by the end of 2015 there were almost 18,000 uses on average. The conversation has also turned more political, with #2A (Second Amendment) now appearing more often than #Gun.
For more regional breakdowns, and to find out the most active cities when it comes to gun conversations, view the infographic below.