A recent study conducted by the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University revealed that 3 percent of the U.S. population owns half of the total number of firearms. Dubbed “super owners” by Fox News in 2016, these gun-toting enthusiasts are in possession of anywhere from eight to 140 guns each. Additional studies have identified who these owners are and why they feel the need to amass arsenals of weapons.
According to the Scientific American, Northland College sociologist Angela Stroud examined applications for licenses to carry concealed weapons in Texas after Barack Obama was elected president. Starting in 2008, there was an exponential increase in the number of applicants.
Upon closer inspection, Stroud found that white men were lining up in record numbers to get licensed out of a need to protect their families. They also expressed significant fear of a changing landscape that threatened their ability to financially provide for their loved ones. Stroud said that the third reason was racial anxiety.
The men Stroud spoke to objected to Obama’s campaign platform which they believed favored free healthcare and welfare rather than hard work. Programs like these would empower minorities. In their minds, an improvement in the quality of life for minorities meant a decrease in theirs.
The Scientific American article cited several other studies that support Stroud’s findings. Three different studies conducted between 2013 and 2017 found that racism leads to an increased likelihood of gun ownership, resistance to gun control measures, and a political leaning towards the Republican Party.
Under the Trump administration, there has been a significant spike in the rise of white nationalist hate groups as evidenced by the violent protest in Charlottesville as well as increased recruiting efforts on college campuses. Fears and racial tensions are running high which studies indicate have led to greater opposition to gun control.
A 2017 study published by Baylor University sociologists Paul Froese and F. Carson Mencken measured how attached people are to their guns. What they found was that of the 600 gun owners surveyed, 78 percent were white and 65 percent were male.
Froese connected the high attachment rate for white males to the concerns they had about their own financial stability. These men have a need to be in control as providers and protectors which garners them respect from their respective communities.
He also noted that these men view themselves as patriots while making a clear distinction between the idea of “government” and “nation.” Froese predicted that the idea of “nation” is representative of the white population.