The National Rifle Association has their annual meeting in Louisville, Kentucky this week, so let’s revisit one of the worst anti-gun pieces The Washington Post ran in April, where they said that “white resentment” was fueling the resistance against gun control (via WaPo):
In their paper, published in the journal Political Behavior in November, Alexandra Filindra and Noah J. Kaplan found that whites were significantly less likely to support gun control measures when they had recently looked at pictures of black people, than when they had looked at pictures of white people.The study, which surveyed 1,000 white respondents, also found that the higher they scored on a common measure of racial prejudice, the stronger negative effect the photos of black people had on the respondents' support for gun control.
Taken together, those two findings "demonstrate that racial prejudice influences white opinion regarding gun regulation in the contemporary United States," Filindra and Kaplan conclude. But why would that be the case?
To explain this, Filindra and Kaplan draw on a rich body of sociological literature about the language of racial resentment, especially amongwhites. Racial resentment, as Filindra and Kaplan define it, is a prejudice based in the belief that blacks don't value independence and hard work and instead push for special rights conferred by the government. It upholds whites as morally superior while ignoring the structural advantages of whiteness.
Filindra and Kaplan say their research does not imply that all white gun owners are racist, nor that all support for gun control carries racial baggage.
But for a certain subset of white gun-rights supporters, particularly those who are inclined to hold certain prejudicial beliefs, messages about individualism and liberty and rights are understood in a very specific way.
In the mind of this type of gun owner, "I am showing my white nationalist pride in a sort of generic way through gun ownership," Filindra posits. "This is my way of expressing my 'more-equal-than-others' status in a society where egalitarianism is the norm.
Kerry O'Brien is a researcher a Monash University in Australia who has also investigated the link toward racial attitudes and gun ownership. He notes that the correlation between racial resentment and gun attitudes has been well-established in existing sociological literature going back at least 30 years.
Okay—if these are the conclusions that will come out of federally funded studies, then Congress should by all means block attempts to allocate those funds. We already have enough research ventures explaining how white people are a problem. They’re not.
Second, gun ownership is not a majority white undertaking. That’s the thing that amazes me about the anti-gun left. Pretty much everyone is exercising second Amendment rights. The explosion in female participation in shooting sports, gun ownership, firearm training classes, and obtaining concealed carry permits has been documented pervasively:
In Texas, the number of women issued concealed carry permits almost doubled last year from the year before; 67,000 qualified in 2013, Texas Department of Public Safety officials said. Elsewhere, more women also want to pack heat:
• In Florida, women were 22% of concealed weapon license holders as of May 31, up from 15% in 2004, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
• In Illinois, almost 12% of the 7,500 concealed carry applications filed with the state have been from women, according to WGN-TV, Chicago. State law began to allow the permits July 1.
• In Tennessee, women had been issued more than 30% of almost 193,000 handgun-carry permits in effect at the end of 2013, according to the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security.
• In Washington state, 100,000 of 451,000 concealed-carry permit holders are women, about 22%, according to the Seattle Times.
So, what’s the story regarding the racial breakdown of gun ownership? Yes, more whites own firearms, but a substantial proportion of blacks, Hispanics, and Asians support gun rights, and have them in their homes, according to a 2013 survey by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The study involved 6,000 people (1,500 from each racial group) and the results were surprising [emphasis mine]:
Personal firearm ownership is highest among White and lowest among Asian respondents (45% White, 34% Black, 36% Hispanic and 24% Asian).
39%-55% of households in each ethnic group have a firearm in the household (i.e., referred to in this report as a “firearm household”) (55% White, 45% Black, 51% Hispanic and 39% Asian).
- Firearm households in White and Hispanic ethnic groups are statistically equivalent, as are firearm households in Black and Asian groups. The presence of White/Hispanic firearm households is significantly higher than Black/Asian firearm households.
- Roughly half of respondents in each ethnic group report being knowledgeable about shooting sports
49%-64% of respondents from each ethnic group have actually tried target shooting (64% White, 49% Black, 61% Hispanic and 53% Asian). Echoing firearm household findings, White and Hispanic ethnic group respondents are significantly more likely than Black and Asian respondents to have tried target shooting.
78%-84% of White, Black and Hispanic respondents strongly agree with the statement “it is my right to own a gun”
- Asian respondent agreement with this statement is statistically lower at 66%. This group is also significantly more likely than other ethnic groups to believe that owning a firearm is not desirable in their culture (38% Asian vs. 24% White, 26% Black and 27% Hispanic).
- Asian respondents are also the least likely ethnic group to strongly agree with statements pertaining to the acceptance of personal, family, community and ethic group firearm ownership.
- The majority of respondents from each ethic group are not in strong agreement with the statement indicating that gun ownership negatively impacts their ethnic community
49%-65% of households in each ethic group are interested in firearms and shooting sports, with Hispanic households leading all groups on both measures.
63%-76% of firearm households have a handgun in the household (70% White, 76% Black, 74%
Hispanic, and 63% Asian), while roughly three in five have a rifle (76% White, 58% Black, 65% Hispanic, and 60% Asian).
Personal protection is the leading purpose for firearm ownership in each ethnic group (73% White, 71% Black, 69% Hispanic, and 59% Asian)
Roughly 70% of firearm households indicate participating in shooting activities at least once a year (71% White, 67% Black, 77% Hispanic, and 71% Asian).
Hispanic and Asian firearm households are significantly more likely than other ethnic groups to be regularly (more than five times a year) involved in hunting and shooting activities (74% White, 77% Black, 84% Hispanic and 83% Asian).
I don’t know about you but a personal firearm ownership rate of 45/34/36/24 among whites, blacks, Hispanics, and Asians respectively isn’t too shabby regarding diversity. Moreover, even with Asians registering lowest among the racial groups regarding support for gun rights, it still registers at 66 percent. Across the board, support for the Second Amendment is broad, and gun ownership is more diverse than most liberal college campuses. So, if there is any white resentment, any supposed feelings of moral superiority, or notions that non-whites value independence—it surely doesn’t present itself when it comes to gun ownership.
Opposition to gun control may be just grounded in folks not wanting urban-based liberals telling them what to do, and which of our civil rights should be exercised, or curtailed, to the fullest. Freedom to exercise out oldest civil right transcends racial, ethnic, and gender barriers. We're Americans, we like our guns. And when presidents try to stifle those rights, people start stocking up.