Average US Gun Owner Is White, Male, Insecure, Less Educated, Resents Other Races: Report

A new report by the Scientific American say that the average gun owners in the U.S. is white, insecure, less educated, male and resents other races.

The Scientific American cited several studies and papers to draw its conclusion:

These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated.

For the most part, they don’t appear to be religious—and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives.

In a 2012 report, Northland College sociologist Angela Stroud studied people who submitted applications in Texas for concealed carry firearms.

Stroud found that white males were motivated by their opposition to empowered minorities, dislike for President Obama and disdain for universal health care (because it would cost them in taxes):

A lot of people talked about how important Obama was to get a concealed-carry license: “He’s for free health care, he’s for welfare.” They were asking, “Whatever happened to hard work?”

United Kingdom researchers found in a 2013 study that the odds of being racist increased by 50 percent if someone owned a gun.

A study by the University of Illinois at Chicago in 2016 found that whites were opposed to gun control because of their racial resentment against others.

A study by Baylor University sociologists Paul Froese and F. Carson Mencken in 2017 found that people most emotionally and morally attached to their guns in a “gun empowerment scale” were 78 percent white and 65 percent male.

Froese explained this love for an inanimate object by white males:

We found that white men who have experienced economic setbacks or worry about their economic futures are the group of owners most attached to their guns. Those with high attachment felt that having a gun made them a better and more respected member of their communities…

The gun is a ubiquitous symbol of power and independence, two things white males are worried about. Guns, therefore, provide a way to regain their masculinity, which they perceive has been eroded by increasing economic impotency.

Froese expounded on how white gun owners opposed the U.S. government, but thought of themselves as patriotic:

This is interesting because these men tend to see themselves as devoted patriots, but make a distinction between the federal government and the “nation.” On that point, I expect that many in this group see the “nation” as being white.

Froese explained the cartoonish good-guy-with-a-gun-logic that white gun owners often use:

Put simply, owners who are more attached to their guns are most likely to believe that guns are a solution to our social ills. For them, more “good” people with guns would drastically reduce violence and increase civility. Again, it reflects a hero narrative, which many white man long to feel a part of.

Stroud also found white gun owners imagine themselves as the “good guy” in their world views:

They tell themselves all kinds of stories about criminals and criminal victimization. But the story isn’t just about criminals. It’s about the good guy—and that’s how they see themselves: “I work hard, I take care of my family, and there are people who aren’t like that.” When we tell stories about the Other, we’re really telling stories about ourselves.

Ironically, these “good guy” white gun owners are the most likely to kill themselves with guns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that white adult males are three times more likely to shoot themselves than black adult males.

The chance of white male adult being killed by a black adult male is very small. That’s because most murders happen among people of the same race.

(Sources: Scientific American, SAGE Journals, Oxford AcademicCenters for Disease Control and Prevention, PLOS, Springer Link, Photo Credit: Clinger Holsters/Flickr)

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