Report: If You Feel ‘Empowered’ by Your Guns, You’re Probably White, Male, and Economically Unstable

Do you utilize guns as a foundational source of power and identity?  (Photo: NBC News)

In their never-ending quest to determine why anyone would want to own something as frightening as a firearm, the egg-heads think they have an answer.

To combat a world that no longer “expressly favors them,” white men deal with economic insecurity by owning guns and pretending to be John Wayne.

Here’s how researchers at Baylor University put it:

“We demonstrate that white men in economic distress find comfort in guns as a means to reestablish a sense of individual power and moral certitude.” In other words, “economic distress enhances the extent to which white men, specifically, come to rely on the semiotic power of a cultural symbol… [they] utilize guns as a foundational source of power and identity.”


The study’s authors set out to determine a better way to measure and describe the reasons for gun ownership in the United States. Dissatisfied with the generic term “gun culture,” they decided to focus on what guns mean to individual gun owners.

They developed an “empowerment” scale, and asked 577 individuals whether their guns made them feel “safe, responsible, in control, valuable, respected, and/or patriotic.” Based on their response to this question, researchers determined their level of “empowerment.”

Here’s how the various demographics broke down:

As you can see from the chart, those whose firearms make them feel most empowered are white, male, and have high levels of economic precarity and social alienation. They are extremely conservative and believe that violence against the government might one day be necessary.

On the other end of the spectrum, those whose firearms make them feel least empowered are non-white, female, and expressed moderate political views.

To be fair, the study makes some interesting points about the diversity of the modern American gun owner. But to any member of the various gun cultures in the United States, the report reads like a scientist attempting to understand an alien life form.

SEE ALSO: Profile of a Gun Owner: ‘Scared, Under-Educated, Paranoid White Guy’?

At one point the authors hypothesize that guns have become “objects of worship” and “sources of sacred meaning.” Here’s the gem they use to prove their point:

Randall Collins (2004) notes that “many individuals who are intensely involved with guns spend much of their leisure time reloading ammunition … the long hours spent on reloading ammunition suggests that this is a ritualistic affirmation of the membership, something like a member in a religious cult engaging in private prayer, in actual physical contact with the sacred objects, like fingering the beads of rosary” (p. 101).

(Next time you’re reloading, don’t forget to offer your sacrificial lamb to the gun gods! It might help shrink those group sizes.)

The authors also make a strange distinction throughout their report between “handguns” and “semi-automatic” firearms. They talk about “semi-automatic gun bans,” so they seem to be referring to semi-automatic rifles. But they don’t appear to understand that handguns can also be semi-automatic.

They conclude by offering a hypothesis as to why gun control legislation has failed to pass. According to the authors, “a vocal and passionate minority of gun owners continues to feel emotionally and morally dependent on guns.” These individuals hold a “deep commitment to gun rights and frontier masculinity,” which makes them a powerful political force in D.C.

In the final sentence the authors note that the failure of gun control legislation is not only due to money from gun manufactures and the NRA. The survival of Second Amendment rights has just as much (if not more) to do with the millions of American gun owners who stand in solidarity against those who would diminish the freedoms granted in the Constitution.

At least they get one thing right.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 46 comments… add one }
  • Antonio Sa January 10, 2018, 6:48 pm

    Interesting, I am Hispanic with two graduate degrees, a well-paying career and love shooting sports. Apparently, I do not fit into their concocted ‘study’. This is just another pseudo-scientific study where the statistics were rigged to fit an already formulated conclusion. This is why none of these studies are ever sent out for ‘reputable’ peer reviews. Just a bunch of frauds getting bankrolled by the anti-gun cabal.

  • Larry December 3, 2017, 2:49 pm

    87% white, 77% white…..that’s more than 100 percent. Stats all wrong. I guess if you fly fish and make your own flies that lumps you in this group as well. Wow.

    • Jon December 22, 2017, 6:34 am

      I’m afraid you were interpreting the chart incorrectly.
      The percentages were for each category.
      (i.e. low category = 31% non White which gives you 69% white)
      But still, if they’re going to talk about high-capacity clips, then you have to question their overall interpretations.

  • Dexter Winslett December 2, 2017, 12:13 pm

    White, retired law enforcement, financially stable, empowered by the Good LORD. I will shoot any democrat who tries to disarm me.

    • John December 13, 2017, 7:59 pm

      I with you on this one.

    • Roger September 21, 2018, 3:59 pm

      I’m 100% pro 2nd amendment, however, I think your statement about “shooting any democrat” who tried to take your guns, very foolish, especially since you claim to be retired law enforcement.
      Open threats like yours, do the rest of us no good, when it comes to protecting our rights. Wise up!

  • Kyle December 2, 2017, 1:01 am

    My economic instability is the result of owning guns, not the other way around! Every time I pull the trigger, it gets a little worse.

  • David J Moore December 1, 2017, 7:16 pm

    I noted that one person thought that gun owners didn’t have a “snowballs chance in hell”of prevailing in a conflict involving the forces against the 2nd amendment. Please remember Great Britain had the greatest armed forces in the world at the time of the American Revolution. Who won?
    The Vet Cong and North Vietnamese had no B 52 bombers just a ragtag bunch of people that believed in their cause. Don’t forget the Taliban. No one has defeated them in a very long time. They have no tanks, jets, or armed personal carriers. My point is “where there’s a will there’s a way.”

  • Txjack December 1, 2017, 7:03 pm

    White people of modest means do not have high powered attorneys on speed dial to protect them. They do not have hate groups that pose as civil rights groups such as LULAC, La RASA, NAACP and of course Black Lies Matter to help them. The only thing that whites have is their own self determination and “clinging to God and their guns” as Obama said when he attempted to slander them. If given the choice I’d still pick God and guns, let the minority’s have their hate groups, Hollywood and a government pushing political correctness at our expense.

  • David December 1, 2017, 5:48 pm

    Looks to me that the researchers were racists!

  • Dan December 1, 2017, 1:31 pm

    Seems like a lot of the commenters are snowflakes…researchers asked questions and gun owners answered. what is the big deal? I have read many comments on here about how empowered people think they are because they have a gun; pry it from my cold dead hands, etc. Many of you believe that your guns are going to be necessary fighting against the gov. Or that you could have stopped the Vegas shootings with your pocket .380. The truth hurts, I guess.

  • Johne December 1, 2017, 1:01 pm

    You have to wonder how these people take themselves seriously. Do they actually believe in what they write and are complete idiots or are they just pushing their agenda knowing it is a load of horse sh&^.

    Who are gun owners. They are men and women of all races. They are people who believe they have the right to protect themselves. They are people who enjoy shooting sports. What they are not is a bunch of paranoid white guys.

  • Nathan Palmer December 1, 2017, 12:53 pm

    these numbers are so far off. i’m an over 50 white male, highly educated with a great paying job. i have, use and love my guns. I guarantee you, not one single person in this group of 577 people are black, living in poverty and selling drugs and stolen goods to earn a living were polled. Why? Because they don’t want you to know their secrets and wrongdoings. That will also go for any other race, creed, color, ethnic background, education and/or poverty level. There are criminals in EVERY ethnic, educational and economical background. A criminal will NOT tell you correct answers in order to protect themselves from criminal prosecution. So, i find these statistics to be very incorrect. Any person, Rich or Poor, can be pushed into doing something stupid and horribly terrible acts under the right conditions. I AM NOT defending ANYONE’s action. There are many white people who should not be allowed to give birth to children because of there twisted idiotic belief that white make you superior to anyone else. If you hurt my family, break into my home or steal my things……YOU WILL BE SHOT! No if’s, and’s or but’s to it. I’m not depressed, angry, mentally unstable or been diagnosed with any mental issues, not prejudice (except for stupid people) to any ethnic group. But, i guarantee this…. someone will say i’m racist, a hater or something else, simply because i own, use and feel protected by my firearms. My rights don’t end where your fragile feelings begin!!!!!

    • Al December 2, 2017, 9:08 am

      Double ditto(and triple threat!), economically, educationally, and emotionally unchallenged white male gun collector

  • Boz December 1, 2017, 11:45 am

    I’z be’z a bIack gang memba’. We’z don’ needz no gun sto’, an no backgroun’ chex. We’z gets hour gunz any way we pleez. You stupid laws ain’ gonna stops us. Fo sho.

    • Jack435 December 1, 2017, 12:39 pm

      No just stop, you’re proving them right…

    • James smith December 1, 2017, 12:41 pm

      You’re proving them right.

  • QuantMarksman December 1, 2017, 11:16 am

    Biased opinions dressed up as “science” are particularly pernicious to the advancement of any objective understanding of the issues at hand. Randall Collins comes off as the typical pseudo-intellectual nut job that produces this kind of crap. We could substitute any of the following into Randall’s statement, and it would ring true: “many individuals who are intensely involved with {guns, golf, fly fishing, sky diving, mathematics, porn} spend much of their leisure time {reloading ammunition, putting in their office, tying flies, packing parachutes, writing equations, spankin’ the monkey}”. What a crock of shit…. the only ritualistic affirmation this lib-tard, wanna-be shrink experiences is stroking his own sanctimonious ego in front of his equally ignorant peers.

  • Alan December 1, 2017, 10:37 am

    Well folks, I have been called many things in my life, but that was the nicest way I’ve ever seen to call me ‘White Trash’.
    Damn, and I thought all those years of working and paying my taxes and mortgage would throw them of my scent.
    Well, if I go reload a bit and enter my ‘Zen zone’, perhaps I’ll feel better about myself when the Gods of reloading sooth my harried soul.

  • Ro Gal December 1, 2017, 10:35 am

    Well if you turn on your TV and watch ANY home security commercial, you’ll only see white people as the criminals.
    Makes you think about how trustworthy the company is that’s advertising this product. Not very realistic, but then again neither are liberal concepts of law and liberty.

    • Jon December 22, 2017, 6:44 am

      They cannot use any ethnic group bad guys because, then their commercial would be called racist.
      So to be politically correct, commercials can only use white guys as the criminal.

  • Ro Gal December 1, 2017, 10:32 am

    Would be very interesting if they asked the same questions to just one demographic, say all black, asian or hispanic, even all females. Something tells me they’d find similar responses from all of them! Unless they chose to solicit in areas highly concentrated with progressive liberals like San Fran.

  • Richard December 1, 2017, 10:24 am

    Perhaps less-wealthy people (a) just want to keep their possessions and be left alone, and (b) can’t afford to live in a gated community with a private security staff, like those who probably commissioned the survey.

  • Dan December 1, 2017, 10:22 am

    I doubt any of us really believe that we would have a snowball’s chance in hell going up against the technology that is available to our government, but our guns, nevertheless, may give us a feeling of security and independence that has become increasingly rare due in part to that same technology.

    My son and I have been going through my Dad’s, bless his soul, gun room, sorting through hundreds of reloading dies and etc, and we’ve wondered, first of all, how he could have accumulated so much firearms related stuff on his modest income, and second, how he was able to do it under the watchful eye of my frugal mother, bless her soul, who would have thrown a fit if she had any idea how much he was spending on his “toys”!

    Dad, like most of us, bitched about government policies, wrote letters to congress, and complained vociferously to anyone who would listen, but even a simple uneducated man like him, who couldn’t finish a sentence without a good dose of profanity, never thought for a minute that having enough ammunition to start a war, had anything to do with revolution or taking an armed stance against the government!

    Dad was a quick draw shooter back in the fifties, who could throw a pie tin into the air, draw an old single action Colt, and put five rounds into it before it hit the ground. He had every Western novel that was ever written, probably read each of them twice, and thought Hollywood’s version of the old West was pretty accurate! He had guns hidden in his vehicles, under his bed, under the couch cushions, in kitchen drawers, and usually in one of his pockets, but I remember my Grandfather being the same way.

    When Dad was 85 years old, I took him out to the woods to shoot some of his pistols, and as we walked out to where we had targets set up, he suddenly raised his Glock 32, and fired off a round. Thinking maybe I should not have handed him a pistol before we got to the targets, and being a little startled by the explosion, I said, “What the hell did you do that for?” Without saying a word, he walked off the trail and went about 50 yards into the woods, bent over, and picked up a red squirrel, minus its head, and said with a smile, “Lunch!”

    This article made me think of Dad because “White, male, and economically unstable” definitely described him, but the observation about the hours spent reloading ammunition is so ridiculous that he would have let loose a barrage of profanity over it. Dad, like most serious reloaders, was always searching for that perfect load that would allow him to put rounds on top of each other, and in addition to his obsession with accuracy, I think those hours also provided a kind of escape from the day to day stresses of being a “White, male, economically unstable individual”.

  • CountryLogic December 1, 2017, 9:57 am

    I would like to see this same study done only using golf substituted for guns. Bet it would track along the same lines.

  • Lee Blackman December 1, 2017, 9:49 am

    The sad thing is that someone in academia actually got paid to generate this garbage study…

  • Ronnie U December 1, 2017, 9:12 am

    I’m White, I own guns and not one person has ever asked me “ANYTHING”
    How do they pick the people that do these fake surveys???????
    Do they just pick and choose to make the Survey go to a result they want ????????

    • Dan December 2, 2017, 5:23 am

      A study without bias, political or otherwise is tough to conduct, and rare indeed. Most are funded by an organization, corporation, or individual with an agenda. Also, any data, once collected, is open to interpretation, and this is where their credibility often comes into question.

      Asking someone why they spend hours at a reloading bench is like asking someone why they spend hours knitting, and then developing a profile and applying it to all knitters. Might be useful for applying labels, but the truth is that the most likely answer is that they find knitting relaxing, relieves stress, the outcome gives them a sense of accomplishment, and they just like doing it!

      I you were trying to demonize knitters, and perhaps enact legislation to ensure they don’t stab anyone with their knitting needles, you might say that most of them are White, Female, and economically unstable because inserting the word unstable into any description implies that your subject has some issues that may be of concern to the rest of society!

  • CharlieKing1 December 1, 2017, 9:03 am

    A Baylor University study, hmmm…another waste of tax payer dollars. I’m ashamed that a Texas university even had the gall to concoct such a study. There’s a high end gun store in Austin, TX that I frequent. From my observation, most of its customers are extremely wealthy and influential WHITE GUYS. Further they don’t seem to be economically unstable as the article insinuates…

  • Frank December 1, 2017, 8:24 am

    White Guy’s? Seems to me more gun violence is committed by men of color. Turn your TV on!

    • jeer December 1, 2017, 10:11 am

      Same people who say shit like that turn on the TV then yell FAKE NEWS at it all night LOL can’t have it both ways snowflakes.

  • Barnjoer December 1, 2017, 8:19 am

    Sounds like more political liberal Bull S$/& to me. I have guns because I like them! I have guns because I hunt with them! I have guns because I like to shoot them in computation!
    Why do Mose Women have 30 + pair of shoes? One pair can do the same thing that 30+ can do!

    Just A bunch of BS!!

  • joefoam December 1, 2017, 7:51 am

    This just goes to show how any pool of numbers can be skewed to make it appear the way “researchers” want. The sad part is that many weak minded people will believe whatever is put on the internet or their cell phone and accept it as fact without question.

  • Michael R December 1, 2017, 7:32 am

    If you dont think my weapon empowers me come try to take it

  • shrugger December 1, 2017, 7:22 am

    Why would a tool make me feel any such thing?

  • BIGKIELBASSA December 1, 2017, 7:14 am

    My big Kielbassa makes me feel empowered . Not my guns .

  • Gary December 1, 2017, 5:56 am

    I love it! Watching these idiots trying to use scientific studies and polls to try and understand something that’s quite simple. It’s like trying to deep sea dive in a puddle. Some people just enjoy shooting. It’s fun and I love the history of firearms. My dad passed away 5 years ago and he took me out all the time when I was a kid and taught me. I’m doing the same with my kids. What exactly is the problem with this if we are being safe and teaching the next generation to use and respect firearms? And if my kids do not like them they won’t have to have them (although my kids love their firearms right now)? I’m so tired of having a guilt trip thrown at people for something that has never been an issue before. They are trying to get public opinion swayed their way plain and simple. These people want NO guns in the hands of the civies. If it comes down to a war it’s going to be something they started and pushed for.

  • A.M. December 1, 2017, 5:32 am

    Hmmmm….I’m a firearm enthusiast. Own NFA and non nfa firearms, reload ammo when I have the time(which isn’t often), have a family, live in the suburbs, own a handgun AND rifle for protection, never been threatened with a gun, have friends and associates of all colors, but I’m not white. Am I an aberration? LOL! This study is pathetic.
    As for Randall Collins and his little side note. STFU and GTFOH.

  • loupgarous December 1, 2017, 4:38 am

    This study reeks of confirmation bias – the hazard of deciding something exists and designing an experiment to prove that it exists, instead of seeing whether it exists. The researchers defined something called “gun empowerment” then, instead of testing whether the concept had any relation to reality, assumed it had validity and proceeded to “measure” it in people to prove their hypothesis.
    The late Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman denounced misuse of the language of experimental science in studies like these – he called it “cargo cult science” in which researchers (usually in the social sciences) went about imitating what scientists do in the physical sciences without understanding how experimental science really works. They produce crude imitations of actual experimental science that prove nothing because they were never grounded in reality in the first place. This study is prime, unaduterated cargo cult science. It proves absolutely nothing.

  • Dr Motown November 30, 2017, 6:53 am

    They’ll never understand that guns, reloading, recreational shooting, etc is a HOBBY for many of us. No different from some guys who like to tinker with their ’57 Chevys on the weekend, or have a garage full of woodworking machines

  • Robert Smith November 30, 2017, 12:06 am

    Humm…maybe these guys are onto something. Could this be why, when I go to a gun show, I feel like I am making a sacred pilgrimage?

  • Sepp W November 29, 2017, 5:49 pm

    The only sentence in the whole piece that is marginally rational; “The survival of Second Amendment rights has just as much (if not more) to do with the millions of American gun owners who stand in solidarity against those who would diminish the freedoms granted in the Constitution.”
    However the part about freedoms granted by the Constitution? The Constitution protects freedoms that we already have and are born with. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights specifically calls out certain rights the government can never infringe. The Constitution does not grant government the power to infringe any right or grant rights.
    Of course Baylor is now a liberal indoctrination center for the incapable and unproductive. So therefore, this study is suspect at best. I’d like to see the question bank; what was asked, how it was asked, and who was asked..

    • Ram6 December 1, 2017, 8:56 am

      Bingo, you hit the nail on the head. These people firmly believe the constitution “grants” rights. Why? Because that’s what has been taught by generations of liberal instructors (indoctrinators) in our public schools and universities. The idea that these are inalienable rights of human beings and merely “guaranteed” by the constitution is foreign to them. They want to believe that they are “granted” because then the government can somehow “ungrant” them if they get enough support to do so. They are pathetic and their “research” is anything but. It’s merely a confirmation of what they already believe.

  • Will Drider November 29, 2017, 4:02 pm

    Again they try to: divide, insult and quantify what they have no comprehension of. Here we have “another study” and we must ask: Why was this study done? In that answer you will find the motivation for it and a predetermined desire for a specific result. Second we ask who funded it and why would they want the results, and last: who did the work. If there is no bias in the answers, the study has a basis to be legitimate. Otherwise, its the same old horse shit squeezed from different cheeks.

    • Joseph Kiesznoski December 1, 2017, 9:02 pm

      What a BS article.

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