Gun Ownership

Published: 2017-08-07 09:29:58
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Gun Ownership

Contrary to what the media reports, gun ownership in the United States is on the rise. As a matter of fact, the media is trying to fuel the notion that American citizens are turning away from weapons. They have waged a so-called War on Guns that they are using to give the impression that guns in the country are owned by a tiny, fringe group. They always find polls and surveys suggesting that gun ownership is on the decline. There are several reasons as to why polls do not reflect the actual gun ownership demographics. Current events such as deadly shooting incidences are likely to influence willingness by American to admit gun ownership. This research paper looks at who between males and females is more likely to own a gun.

Overall, men are more likely than women to personally own firearms; a situation that represents one of the biggest differences in gun ownership regarding demographics. Also, gun ownership varies substantially by region, with people living in the southern part of the United States more likely to own arms than those from other parts. Additionally, marriage is a notable influential factor in ownership. Gender happens to be the strongest predictor of who acquires a gun. The odds of a male procuring a weapon are five times greater than those of a female owning one if the effects of other factors linked to gun ownership are taken into consideration. Hailing from the South and having a marriage partner are the other factors, as individuals satisfying these criteria are more likely to own a weapon than unmarried people or those living in other parts of the United States.

Although men own more guns, ownership among women appears to be on the rise. Females with firearms make up a larger segment of the gun-owning American population than was the case twenty years ago. This change points more to a decline in gun ownership among men than the rapid increase in female firearm owners, although the percentage of American women who owned guns today is up by about three points over the early 1990s. All in all, the total number of females owning guns has risen in recent years despite the fact that the percentage of women in possession of weapons not increasing significantly. The increase in the number of handguns owned by Americans largely been driven by a rise in female owners, with more women than men stating that they sought the weapons for self-defense.

In the United States, people who own guns and those who are not comfortable with possessing weapons are, to some extent, just different types of individuals. Firearm owners are more likely to be white males living in rural areas, while those who dont own guns or are uncomfortable with them most likely to be suburban colored females, or those living in urban areas. In 2013, the Pew Research Center made an in-depth statistical record of individuals who claimed to own guns or had them within their households. The report stated that the bulk of firearm owners in the United States are white males. 31% of white people own guns; with males making up a much bigger share of this population when compared to females. Another way of examining these statistics is by looking at how the entire American population compares to the number of people who are in possession of guns. While only 32% of people in the US are white males, they account for 61% of those owning guns. The divide appeared to be even more pronounced when Pew enquired from respondents who did not own weapons whether they would be okay with a firearm in their home. Their response showed that individuals with no guns but who are demographically the same as firearm owners are more comfortable with the weapons than those who are not, in this case non-whites and females.

To understand why more men than women own guns, it is worth looking at why men are inclined to be armed at all times. Since as far back as the 1960s, the national debate on guns in both academic and political circles has revolved around a single main query. This is whether firearms increase or reduce crime, and if they are tools of deterioration or deterrence. In recent times however, researchers in social science are focusing on a different query that has nothing to do with the relationship between weapons and crime. It is all about the link between guns and human beings. They wish to understand, in addition to owning guns, Americans also carry them. In the real sense, the culture of carrying guns is a comparatively recent phenomenon. The shall-issue law passed in Florida in 1987 is perceived by many as the turning point. Nowadays, states as diverse as Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Oregon have legislations in place that make it quite easy for residents with no criminal records to get hold of license to carry a concealed gun.

While the crime rate has dropped significantly in most parts of the United States, this decline has taken place unevenly. For people who live in crime-infested cities, the vice is a day-to-day reality for them. On the other hand, for those living in relatively safe areas, crime happens to be a rather highly charged concern. All in all, the reason why guns are appealing can hardly be related to fear of crime, irrespective of whether it is rational or irrational. Males, who make up the vast majority of firearm owners, may also carry guns as a response to a broader decline in socio-economics. The role of breadwinning, which is traditionally associated with men, is nowadays more difficult than it was a few decades ago. As males begin having doubts about their ability to provide, this condition is compensated by their desire to protect. They perceive owning a weapon as a masculine duty; with the gun itself being a vehicle for tough kind of care-work that involves shielding loved ones from danger with the use of lethal force.

Firearm owners perceive themselves as good guys with weapons that play the role of helping the vulnerable in the society. As they take part in target practice, they conjure images of scenarios whereby vulnerable individuals such as women and children may require assistance. All in all, Americans tend to get obsessed with public policy debates isolating the effects of firearms on violence, but do not do anything about it. They wonder to what extent guns contribute to crime, homicide or suicide rates. However, firearms play a major role in the current post-industrial society. In areas adversely affected by the economic downturn, guns owned by men can deal with various social issues apart from crime. The platform advocating for gun rights is not just about weapons. It also has something to do with a crisis of confidence in the so-called American dream. This explains why efforts directed towards gun control are always met with intense backlashes. Restrictions are perceived as a stumbling block for males who find a sense of relevance, dignity and duty in firearms.

Individuals who are against gun control often cite the Second Amendment that grants American citizens the right to own and bear arms. However, being given the right to do something does not actually make it compulsory. This raises the question as to why so many people wish to own guns. Considering the diversity of firearm owners, there is no obvious or comprehensive answer. All in all, there are several scientific explanations that could go a long way helping understand the phenomenon.  In spite of the pre-conceptions of some individuals, protection is the most commonly cited reason for gun ownership. As it the case with security lights or fierce dogs, firearms are something people seek to ensure they are safe from intruders.

Some people may argue that this is a lame excuse used by firearm owners so that they can appear credible and moral. All in all, it is the most commonly cited answer by juvenile offenders serving time in prison for gun-related crimes. If someone is already convicted for such crimes, then it is obvious why he or she wanted the gun for in the first place. Irrespective of this fact, such individuals will still state that they acquired the firearm for protection. Human beings are very good at self-preservation, and are susceptible to preparing for the worst-case scenario. Hence, if someone is surrounded by individuals with firearms, then it would be logical for him or her to conclude that one is needed too. This situation may not explain why guns are in the hands of so many people, but would give an idea as to why people are inclined to own the weapons. If self-preservation is the reason as to why a person has a gun as opposed to aggression, then he or she would definitely not want to lose it. Another commonly quoted reason as to why American own firearms is recreation. Hunting and target shooting are among the most popular recreational activities, and which explains why a significant number of people own guns. It would be correct to simply explain that Americans enjoy hobbies that require certain equipment.

Perhaps the biggest factor that influences people to own weapons has something to do with paranoia and insecurity. Many people who possess firearms admit that they feel vulnerable without them. This perception is probably not surprising as being in possession of a weapon gives someone significant power over others. For someone who feels weak, underachieving, or small, interacting with others can bring about a lot of social anxiety. A weapon would offer an easy way for such an individual to have an upper hand over other people for once, even if this perception only takes place at a subconscious level.

Attaining a high social status is crucial to any human being, and firearms can play a major part in this for people who live within cultures where they are quite common. A problem occurs in that, should everyone else own a weapon too, then it is not of much use. Such a situation means that the individual will require more, or bigger firearms, and the cycle continues. Given that it is men who own gun as opposed to women implies that masculinity also plays a role in it. Linking gun ownership to mental health problems may perceived as blatant scapegoating. However, there is some evidence out there implying that ownership of firearms relates to tendencies towards impulsivity and anger.

Social and cultural pressures also go a long way in spurring people to get guns. Nowadays, it is common occurrence to see people joining long queues for days just so that they can purchase the latest smartphone version. They will sacrifice time and comfort, and even travel lengthy distances just to get their hands on a device that is slightly different to what they have at the moment. A possible explanation for this is that there are cultural and social factors that mean having the latest smartphone design is absolutely essential for most people. The same case can be applied to guns. If someone is brought up and is immersed in a culture whereby firearm ownership is a way of life, then it will definitely influence his or her attitude.

References

Siegel, M., Ross, C. S., & King III, C. (2013). The relationship between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates in the United States, 19812010. American journal of public health, 103(11), 2098-2105.

Weinberger, S. E., Hoyt, D. B., Lawrence, H. C., Levin, S., Henley, D. E., Alden, E. R., ... & Hubbard, W. C. (2015). Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States: A Call to Action From 8 Health Professional Organizations and the American Bar Association Firearm-Related Injury and Death in the United States. Annals of internal medicine, 162(7), 513-516.

Wintemute, G. J. (2015). The epidemiology of firearm violence in the twenty-first century United States. Annual review of public health, 36, 5-19.

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