3% of the country now owns half of its guns.
Photo by Peretz Partensky/Flickr.
THE GOOD NEWS:
Identifying the people who stockpile guns and their reasons for doing so can help reduce gun violence.
There’s a bizarre trend in American gun ownership: Over the past 40 years, the percentage of households with guns has declined from 51% to 36%. But since the election of Barack Obama in 2008, the number of guns manufactured has tripled and the amount imported has doubled.
Why? A small group of people has been stockpiling weapons.
A definitive study from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University found that 3% of Americans now own 50% of the country’s guns.
So, who are these people and why are they so afraid?
A revealing study by Angela Stroud found that the election of Barack Obama was a huge impetus for the stockpiling surge. “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?’” Stroud said.
Photo by Clinger Holsters.
A study from Baylor found that the diminished position of white working class males has pushed them to buy firearms to regain a feeling of power and respect. “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,” one of the Baylor sociologists said. “Those with high attachment felt that having a gun made them a better and more respected member of their communities.”
Racism is also a huge reason why white males are stockpiling guns. A 2013 study found that fear of black people is related to both gun ownership and opposition to gun control among whites. The study also says that ethnic resentment against black people accounted for a 50% increase in the odds of having a gun at home.
While the connection between gun ownership and racism is disturbing, understanding the reasons why people are turning to guns for a sense of power is the first step towards ending America’s gun-violence epidemic. Practical solutions backed up by research are sorely needed in a political climate where lawmakers are more beholden to the gun lobby than the lives they’re sworn to protect.