The reason why white men love guns is really sad

Gun control is a potent topic that will cause heated debates at family holiday parties across the nation. Why do you need a gun? Owning a gun is my right! You know how it goes. Yet, there’s actually a reason why white men love their guns so much, according to a recent Baylor University study. And their attachment has to do with loss and insecurity.

Professors of sociology in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences, F. Carson Mencken, PhD, and Paul Froese, PhD, are the lead researchers behind the study, called “Gun Culture in Action,” which was published in Oxford Academic’s journal Social Problems on November 20th.

Ultimately, the study found that white males who have experienced or fear loss are more inclined to feel morally and emotionally attached to guns.

"Guns are an easily accessed symbolic 'tool' to morally and emotionally cope with distress. As such, guns maintain a desired 'moral order' as well as a moral identity, one which gun owners quite literally hold onto as a physical representation of their power and autonomy," the study reads.

These symbolic tools supposedly gain more influence in “unsettled lives” and during “periods of social transformation.” Generally, white men are currently “angry and confused by an economy that no longer seems to expressly favor them,” the study explains. They therefore turn to guns to regain a feeling of power.

In a summation of the study’s findings on the Baylor University website, Mencken and Froese reported that white male gun owners are attracted to the “frontier gun” symbolism of freedom and heroism. They also tend to feel that violence against the U.S. government can be justified if needed. Froese stated,

"What’s paradoxical is that white male gun owners in the U.S. see themselves as hyper-patriotic, but they are the first to say, 'If the government impedes me, I have the moral and almost patriotic right to fight back.'"

Nonwhite gun owners, on the other hand, generally do not turn to guns in times of loss and financially instability. Froese stated that this might be because minority groups have always dealt with “economic anxiety” and therefore “developed different coping mechanisms” over time.

The researchers say that to the white male gun owners, gun control represents an attack on their “masculinity, independence and moral identity.” It’s deep-rooted American symbolism and culture that is proving difficult to change.

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