WHY DO WHITE MEN STOCKPILE GUNS? A recent study in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, 14 March 2018, found that men on average possess two times as many guns as female owners. Furthermore, the ones who felt most emotionally and morally attached to their guns were 78% white and 65% male. Why white males?
1. They are anxious about their ability to protect their families.
2. They are insecure about their place in the job market.
3. They are beset with racial fears of threats to their property and families.
4. They don’t appear to be religious (Faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns).
5. Struggling to find a new story, one in whom they are once again heroes.
6. The government is a source of their problem.
A 2013 paper by a team of United Kingdom researchers found a one point jump in a scale used to to measure racism increased the odds of owning a gun by 50%.
Baylor University Sociologists, Paul Froese and F. Carson Mencken 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. Having a gun made them a better and more respected member of their communities. They also found that religious faith seems to put the brakes on white men’s attachment to guns, leading them to conclude “For these economically insecure, irreligious white men, the gun is a ubiquitous symbol of power and independence, two things white males worry about…. Guns, therefore, provide a way to regain their masculinity, which they perceive has been eroded by increasing economic impotency.”
Suggesting a way out of this trend is Angela Stroud, Northland College Sociologist. “Ridicule of working-class white people is not helpful. We need to push the good guys to have a deeper connection to other people. We need to reimagine who we are in relation to each other.”
These studies point me in three directions: 1) Men also need a “MeToo Movement” dedicated to re-defining masculinity; 2) Racism and economic well being are central to the gun violence solution; 3) Faith communities can and must play a significant role in gun violence prevention by creating healthy connection communities, addressing racism, providing support in times of stress, and living out the Gospel narrative of forgiveness, love and reconciliation.
Rev. Dr. Ron Letnes