Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Racism linked with gun ownership and opposition to gun control in white Americans

Date:
October 31, 2013
Source:
Manchester University
Summary:
A new study has found that higher levels of racism in white Americans is associated with having a gun in the home and greater opposition to gun control policies.

A new study has found that higher levels of racism in white Americans is associated with having a gun in the home and greater opposition to gun control policies.

The research, published in PLoS One, was led by Dr Kerry O'Brien from The University of Manchester and Monash University and used data from a large representative sample of white US voters.

After accounting for numerous other factors such as income, education and political ideology, the researchers found that for each one point increase (on a scale from one to five) in symbolic racism there was a 50 percent increase in the odds of having a gun in the home and a 28 percent increase in support for policies allowing people to carry concealed guns.

Each one point increase in symbolic racism (a modern measure of anti-black racism) was also associated with a 27 percent increase in the odds of opposing bans on hand guns in the home. After accounting for those who already had a gun in the home, the odds were reduced to a non-significant 17 percent increase.

However, the authors note that this reduction is unsurprising as opposition to bans on guns equates to self interest on behalf of those who already own a gun and do not wish to give it up. And racism was already strongly associated with having a gun in the home.

The research was stimulated by gun control debates in the US after mass shootings such as the Sandy Hook tragedy, and research showing that with all things being equal black Americans are more likely to be shot than whites.

The most recent figures show that there are approximately 38,000 gun related deaths in the US each year. With other research suggesting that having a gun in the home is related to a 2.7 and 4.8 fold increase in the risk of a member of that home dying from homicide or suicide, respectively.

Dr O'Brien said: "Coming from countries with strong gun control policies, and a 30-fold lower rate of gun-related homicides, we found the arguments for opposing gun control counterintuitive and somewhat illogical. For example, US whites oppose gun control to a far greater extent than do blacks, but whites are actually more likely to kill themselves with their guns, than be killed by someone else. Why would you keep them? So we decided to examine what social and psychological factors predict gun ownership and opposition to gun control."

Conservatism, anti-government sentiment, party identification, being from a southern state, were also associated with opposition to gun controls, but the association between racism and the gun-related outcomes remained after accounting for these factors and other participant characteristics (age, education, income, gender).

Symbolic racism supplanted old-fashioned or overt/blatant racism which was associated with open support for race inequality and segregation under 'Jim Crow Laws', but it still captures the anti-black sentiment and traditional values that underpinned blatant racism. Symbolic racism has also been found to be related to stronger opposition to policies that may benefit blacks (e.g. welfare), and greater support for policies that seem to disadvantage blacks (e.g. longer prison sentences).

Study co-author Dr Dermot Lynott, from Lancaster University, said: "We were initially surprised that no one had studied this issue before; however, the US government cut research funding for gun-related research over decade and a half ago, so research in this area has been somewhat suppressed."

Dr O'Brien said: "According to a Pew Research Center report the majority of white Americans support stricter gun control, but the results of our study suggest that those who oppose gun reform tend to have a stronger racial bias, tend to be politically and ideologically conservative and from southern states, and have higher anti-government sentiment."

He added: "The study is a first step, but there needs to be more investment in empirical research around how racial bias may influence people's policy decisions, particularly those policies that impact on the health and wellbeing of US citizens."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Manchester University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kerry O’Brien, Walter Forrest, Dermot Lynott, Michael Daly. Racism, Gun Ownership and Gun Control: Biased Attitudes in US Whites May Influence Policy Decisions. PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (10): e77552 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077552

Cite This Page:

Manchester University. "Racism linked with gun ownership and opposition to gun control in white Americans." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031175441.htm>.
Manchester University. (2013, October 31). Racism linked with gun ownership and opposition to gun control in white Americans. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031175441.htm
Manchester University. "Racism linked with gun ownership and opposition to gun control in white Americans." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131031175441.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

Are School Dress Codes Too Strict?

AP (Apr. 16, 2014) Pushing the limits on style and self-expression is a rite of passage for teens and even younger kids. How far should schools go with their dress codes? The courts have sided with schools in an era when school safety is paramount. (April 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Couples Who Sleep Less Than An Inch Apart Might Be Happiest

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study by British researchers suggests couples' sleeping positions might reflect their happiness. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Cognitive Function: Is It All Downhill From Age 24?

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) A new study out of Canada says cognitive motor performance begins deteriorating around age 24. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins