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Understanding Gun Ownership in the Twenty-First Century: Why Some Americans Own Guns, but Most Do Not
Justice Quarterly  (IF4.717),  Pub Date : 2021-12-23, DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2021.2011379
Nathaniel M. Schutten, Justin T. Pickett, Alexander L. Burton, Francis T. Cullen, Cheryl Lero Jonson, Velmer S. Burton Jr.


The gun ownership literature is vast, with dozens of studies seeking to explain who owns guns and why. We build on this literature in two key ways. First, we introduce a new variable into the fold: sensitivity to harm. We theorize that this concern actively inhibits gun ownership. Second, we direct theoretical and empirical attention to a predictor that has frequently been overlooked in the contemporary gun literature even though its timing makes it the proverbial confounder: childhood gun socialization. Using data from a national sample of 1,100 adults and controlling for other known predictors, we find that sensitivity to harm is negatively related to gun ownership, whereas childhood socialization is positively related to it. Furthermore, we find that childhood socialization is not only the strongest predictor of owning guns, but also confounds the relationship between racial resentment and gun ownership, and fully mediates the effect of gender.