A Matter of Degree? Fear, Anxiety, and Protective Gun Ownership in the United States

Tara D. Warner, Courtney R. Thrash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study examines the effect of crime-specific fears (worry about crime and perceived risk of crime), violent victimization, and diffuse anxieties (belief in a dangerous world [BDW], general distrust, and belief in others’ violent intentions) on protective gun ownership and involvement in “active” gun behaviors (i.e., gun accessibility in the home and handgun carrying). Methods: We use data on over 4,000 U.S. adults from the 2017 nationally representative Pew Research Center's American Trends Panel. Results: Fear of crime and perceived risks are largely unrelated to gun ownership, yet violent victimization influences protective ownership, which in turn influences gun accessibility. Additionally, diffuse fears and anxieties also matter for protective ownership and accessibility, with some effects explained by political party affiliation. Broader, general distrust of others is associated with owners’ frequency of carrying their handgun outside of the home. Conclusion: The results highlight the complexity of the fear-guns link, with multiple dimensions of fear and experience at work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-308
Number of pages24
JournalSocial Science Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

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