Gun Ownership And Racist Attitudes Are Linked, Study Finds

Study Links Gun Ownership To Racism

Are you a white gun owner? You're more likely to be a racist than if you weren't packing heat.

That's what researchers found in a study published by the journal Plos One, which linked racial prejudice to firearm ownership in America.

A research team led by Dr. Kerry O’Brien, a professor of behavioral studies at Australia's Monash University, examined attitudes about gun control and race using data from the American National Election Study, a survey conducted before and after presidential elections.

The researchers found that "for each 1 point increase in symbolic racism there was a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home," as well as "a 28% increase in support for permits to carry concealed handguns."

To measure levels of prejudice, the team asked survey participants questions that measured both symbolic racism, defined as "a belief structure underpinned by both anti-black affect and traditional values," and implicit racial attitudes, which are more subtle associations about people of different races. For example, in the symbolic racism section, participants were asked, "“How well does the word ‘violent’ describe most blacks?” on a scale of 1 to 5.

Participants were also shown statements from the Symbolic Racism Scale, such as "Generations of slavery and discrimination have created conditions that make it difficult for blacks to work their way out of the lower class," and asked to what extent they agreed.

The study noted that whites are twice as likely to own guns as blacks, and oppose gun control to a far greater extent. Unsurprisingly, "stronger Republican identification, being from a southern state and anti-government sentiment were associated with opposition to gun-control policies," though not with having a gun in the home.

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