Fear, Anxiety, and Expectation: Gender Differences in Openness to Future Gun Ownership

Tara D. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


There is extensive research on the correlates of gun ownership; however, less is known about the possible correlates of gun ownership among individuals who do not at present own firearms, but may be open to owning guns in the future. To that end, this study uses recently collected survey data from more than 900 nongun-owning U.S. adults to examine the factors associated with the likelihood of owning a gun in the future, motivations for prospective future ownership, and expectations about the perceived utility (i.e., empowerment) of future gun ownership. In addition to assessing the effect of fear of crime and victimization on these outcomes, analyses also examine how broader economic and cultural anxieties influence attitudes toward guns. Findings show that male nonowners are more open to future gun owning than females, and perceive greater empowerment (e.g., feeling safe; feeling respected; feeling in control) if they were to acquire a gun. Female nonowners are more fearful of crime and victimization than males, and are more likely to consider owning a gun in the future primarily for protection. Cultural, but not economic, anxieties (e.g., concerns about American identity; resistance toward immigration) along with adherence to more traditional masculine ideals (e.g., a man should be physically tough) were consistently associated with all three outcomes, for both males and females. Gender differences were reduced in some instances, but generally persisted, even after accounting for several measures of fears, risks, threats, and anxieties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalViolence and Gender
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • cultural anxiety
  • economic anxiety
  • fear of crime
  • guns
  • motivations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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