With a flurry of national incidents calling attention to legislation surrounding the right to bear arms, gun ownership and gun rights advocacy has been at the center of debate. Between the staggering reports of gun violence in cities like Chicago, and the number of mass shootings throughout the year, gun control has become a major issue nationwide.
But Americans are still facing off on either side of the gun debate, and a new study suggests that gun owners and supporters of legislation in favor of carrying concealed weapons are more likely to be racist.
The report is extremely relevant, based on recent findings that African-Americans are disproportionately affected by gun violence. According to a 2012 study by the Children's Defense Fund, gun violence is the leading cause of death for black males ages 15-19. In 2008 and 2009, black children and teenagers were 15 percent of the nation's population, however, they accounted for 45 percent of young people killed by guns.
But researcher Kerry O'Brien said, despite the disparity, white Americans are seriously affected by guns as well.
“White Americans oppose gun control to a far greater extent than do black Americans, but whites are actually more likely to kill themselves with their guns than be killed by someone else. So why would you keep them?” O'Brien said in a press release. “We decided to examine what social and psychological factors predict gun ownership and opposition to gun control.”
The results showed that for each one-point increase in anti-black racism, odds of having a gun in the home jumped by 50 percent. Supporting policies that allow for concealed weapons rose by 28 percent.
The research could be instrumental in the fight against controversial laws like Stand Your Ground and legislation supporting concealed weapon carrying licenses. Both of these laws have sparked national debate, prompting Trayvon Martin's mother Sybrina Fulton and Jordan Davis' mother, Lucia Holman McBath to take a stand against the legislation after their sons' deaths. O'Brien said these findings are just the first step in affecting a great deal of change.
“Our results are a first step, but there needs to be more funding for empirical research around how racial biases may influence people’s policy decisions, and particularly those policies that impact on the health and well being of U.S. citizens.”