A Baylor University study recently revealed insights into gun culture in the United States, and it came with a specific focus for white male gun owners.
Published by the journal Social Problems, the study, titled “Gun Culture in Action,” examined gun owners understanding and opinions on gun ownership.
Researchers F. Carson Mencken, Ph.D., and Paul Froese, Ph.D., professors of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, reportedly co-authored the study, which analyzed data from the 2014 Baylor Religion Survey they intended to use to create a “gun empowerment” scale.
Based on the study, white male gun owners who are struggling with economic instability are more likely to feel they a moral or emotional attachment to their guns.
Furthermore, based on the data, they are also more likely to view violence toward the United States government as sometimes justified.
“What’s paradoxical is that white male gun owners in the U.S. see themselves as hyper-patriotic, but they are the first to say, ‘If the government impedes me, I have the moral and almost patriotic right to fight back,’” Froese said in an interview of the findings.
While, for white male respondents of the study, guns are a symbol of freedom, independence, control and morality, the study showed this connection is weaker if the gun owner possesses strong religious ties; those with weaker religious ties, however, see the gun as a sacred object, the study found.
Menchen and Froese said their study further showed non-white gun owners did not respond with the same views in regard to economic instability, explaining, based on the survey, how guns are less important to them; they are less likely to see violence against the government as justifiable, even under the worst conditions of poverty.
According to the researchers, they believe their findings help explain why opinions about gun control initiatives differ among the population, including gun owners.
“Simply owning a gun does not predict an individual will express anti-gun control opinions, but, rather, whether the person feels empowered by the gun,” Froese said in an interview. “The emotional and moral connection explains variation within the population of gun owners.”
The study is reportedly based on a Gallup poll taken in 2014, and, per the text of the study, only gun owners answered the gun-related questions.