Some fear, more loathing? Threats and anxieties shaping protective gun ownership and gun carry in the U.S.

Tara D. Warner, Trent Steidley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Given notable recent spikes in gun purchases in the U.S., we revisit the ‘fear and loathing’ hypothesis of firearm demand by (1) establishing how crime/victimization fears are shaped by broader economic, cultural, and racial status anxieties (those emerging from group status threats [loathing]) and (2) illustrating how both fear and loathing matter for protective gun ownership and gun carry (among owners), and openness to future protective ownership among non-owners. Using data from a nationwide survey of adults in the U.S. (n = 2,262) collected in 2019, we find that fears of crime and victimization are often more strongly associated with status anxieties than with safety threats. Both status anxieties and victimization are associated with protective ownership and carry. Among non-owners, those higher in cultural anxiety are especially likely to be open toward future protective gun ownership. This study illustrates the multidimensional fear-guns link, wherein both status-related threats and victimization-related fears shape why individuals own guns, and how they use guns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-505
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Crime and Justice
Volume45
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Gun ownership
  • fear of crime
  • group threat
  • gun carry
  • racial resentment
  • status threat
  • victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law

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