White people own guns and oppose gun control laws because they are racist and afraid of black people. Two new studies are building on this perilous narrative among our academic elite. Such rhetoric probably comes as no surprise among political commentators and celebrities, but otherwise serious scholars now attribute racist motivations to gun ownership and opposition to gun control. Not only are these studies based on many biased assumptions, they are also based on bad science.

The University of Wisconsin recently launched a new study that claims gun ownership is higher in U.S. counties where blacks were enslaved in 1860 than they are today. In fact, they say, gun ownership rates are correlated with the number of slaves previously in each county. To support this theory that more slaves means more guns, the author argues that white people fear newly freed slaves, buy guns for self-defense, and then this fear It has built a historical narrative that has somehow permeated over 160 years.

Interestingly, however, just last month, National Public Radio published an article stating that blacks are the fastest growing group of gun owners. This is very interesting if gun ownership is a product of white people being racist.

Aside from the toxic premise that white people believe and feel certain things because they are white, the University of Wisconsin study suffers from a series of flaws. No, and we shouldn’t give a pass to academics who pitch the same type of racism.

another explanation

In such correlation studies, we should be concerned about the possibility of alternative explanations. And there’s plenty of room for alternatives to studies with the punch line “because of slavery.” For example, the degree of slavery in the southern United States counties was much heavier in the southern regions that remain rural to this day. It remains very agricultural, rural, and poor today compared to other parts of the region that have been absorbed by growing metropolises such as Nashville. Large-scale hunting of deer, quail and even wild boar is still prominent in these areas, which may explain the high rates of gun ownership, a fact that the study did not explain. Hmm.

The author then pitches a sort of “facebook friend racist theory.” The authors propose that gun ownership rates are higher in counties with stronger social ties to southern counties. Apparently, having Southern Facebook friends makes black people scared. Again, some alternative explanations come to mind. Most importantly, non-slave-holding counties located near slave-holding counties are expected to have both social connections and similar gun-owning cultures. I have not. Moreover, as Americans become more mobile, it is unclear whether their ties to someone who lived in a formerly slave-owning area had any bearing on that area’s slave-owning past. Huh? Such unnecessarily racially biased research, combined with a shaky scientific foundation, fosters the idea that this academic research is less about finding the truth and more about reinforcing the awakening narrative. increase.

A few days after the publication of the study on slavery-prediction-gun ownership, the American Psychological Association (APA) released another study, arguing that whites are racist and therefore support gun rights, and that whites Claimed that if you go against the rights it is also racist.

Flawed decision of racism

In setting its primary findings on “racist” white Americans, the APA survey used what is known as the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to determine whether survey participants were racially identify whether they hold a grudge against you. The IAT attempts to measure the underlying bias through matching terms, phrases, or images. In this case, for example, the study asked participants to combine gun rights terms (such as “hunting”) or gun control phrases (such as “gun-free areas”) on white and black faces. The study also asked participants, “Irish, Italians, Jews, and many other minorities to overcome prejudice and forge their own paths.” Apparently, depending on how participants matched faces or agreed with certain statements (on a scale of 1 to 5), the authors of the study identified participants as racist. I was able to determine if there was

IAT was once an interesting way to expose unspoken racism, but the technique has come under increasing criticism in recent years. In particular, it is widely accepted that even the person who created the test, a single her IAT is not sufficient to reveal racial prejudice. Her Manhattan Institute Fellow Heather MacDonald has extensively cataloged serious academic criticism of the IAT.

There are many valid policy and legal arguments against gun control proposals of any kind. But academics are trying to short-circuit the debate by calling opponents “racist” and simply labeling gun owners as “white-horrified.” . Discrediting an enemy with an ad hominem attack like “racist” is offensive and wrong in itself. But adopting a “science” based on unreliable theories and false assumptions is a vile attempt to foment racial divisions.


Dan Rennington is an associate attorney and Dr. Will Flanders is director of research at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Freedom.

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