Violence prevention study reveals the unique gun culture in each US state

Brittany A. Roston - Jul 12, 2020, 8:00 am CDT
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Violence prevention study reveals the unique gun culture in each US state

When it comes to discussing firearms and violence prevention in the United States, gun culture presents a big stumbling block — what will work in some places may not be effective in other regions, something largely due to how firearms are viewed differently depending on where you look. A new study has identified three specific ‘gun cultures’ in the US and detailed which culture each state is most closely identified with.

The new study comes from Boston University’s School of Medicine, where researchers used data on gun behavior across the United States based on a number of categories, including hunting, protection, recreation, and more. As well, the data factored in things like specific gun laws and firearm purchases, ultimately finding that the reasons Americans own guns vary — and there are three distinct ‘cultures’ found around the nation.

The three gun cultures are:

– Recreation (red)
– Self-defense (orange)
– Second amendment activism (blue)

Over the years, the study notes, these cultural attitudes toward guns have shifted; for example, the researchers found that as a whole, the use of guns for recreation has decreased in the US while ownership for self-defense purposes has increased. As well, there has been a spike in the political nature of firearm ownership that falls under the Second Amendment activism culture.

Politically conservative states were more likely to focus on recreation related to firearms if the state had few regulations, little racial diversity, and a bunch of rural space. In contrast, conservative states facing high unemployment and relatively new regulations largely view guns from a self-defense standpoint.

Liberal states were most likely to experience what the researchers call ‘Gun Culture 3.0,’ which refers to the relatively new activism movement. This applies to states that have strong regulations related to firearms, as well as ones that have a large Hispanic population and large urban settings.

Study lead author Claire Boine explains:

The NRA has been spreading insurrectionist rhetoric for the past few decades, undermining Americans’ trust in their legislators and the federal government, while passing for a patriotic organization. The result is a few million people who are convinced that any genuine firearm violence prevention effort is the first step in a scheme to take away all of their rights and disenfranchise them.


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