Is There a Link Between Gun Ownership and Racism? Yes, There Is
Depends on which end of the barrel you're on
As you are doubtlessly aware, "active shooter" incidents -- for example, the LAX TSA shooting -- seem to have become commonplace in America; indeed, they "spiked sharply" over the past few years. (Yet, the violent crime rate continues to fall). After Newtown, it seemed sure that the political winds had finally shifted, and federal legislation on gun control would be sitting on the President's desk waiting for his signature.
That never happened. The NRA, via Wayne LaPierre, fought back viciously, and the Tea Party Republicans in the House stood firm. They had a different worldview; here's Texas Republican Louie Gohmert talking about Newtown:
I wish to God [principal Dawn Hochsprung] had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.
This frame of mind is worth keeping in the back of your head vis-a-vis some new research on gun ownership, attitudes about gun control and racial resentment.
At bottom: if you own a gun, and are white, there's a good chance that you are more likely than the average person to hold negative attitudes about black people. Here's what the study found:
After accounting for all explanatory variables, logistic regressions found that for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50 percent increase in the odds of having a gun at home. After also accounting for having a gun in the home, there was still a 28 percent increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns, for each one point increase in symbolic racism.
The "explanatory variables" were: age, gender, education, income, conservatism, anti-government sentiment, southern vs. other states and political identification. So it's fair to say the researchers were pretty comprehensive. And how do researchers measure racial resentment or anti-black attitudes? With the Symbolic Racism Scale. (Click and see how you score).
It is also interesting to note that -- and this is from the study as well -- white males, who are far more enthusiastic about gun rights than blacks -- why? because blacks are far more likely to be killed by guns -- are more likely to commit suicide with their guns than be killed in a gun homicide. Thus, many white males are advocating what is a deadly policy for . . . white males.
Now it is important to note, and the researchers are careful to state this, that this study only found a correlation, not causation. So, merely owning a gun and being white does not mean you're racist. (Just more likely).
Anyways, it is doubtful that meaningful gun control will be enacted anytime soon (i.e., not before 2016). But as the evidence mounts about the questionable nature of our gun culture and its effects, perhaps the political winds will eventually shift.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.