Testing Theories of Gun Policy

Testing Theories of Gun Policy Preferences Among Blacks, Latinos, and Whites in America
Alexandra Filindra, University of Illinois at Chicago
Noah Kaplan, University of Illinois at Chicago
Objective. Research examining the factors shaping gun policy attitudes has focused on the general population or whites. Little is known about how self-interest, political values, or racial prejudice shape the gun policy preferences of minorities. We seek to assess the effect of self-interest, political values, and racial prejudice on the gun policy attitudes of whites, Latinos, and blacks. We also introduce a measure of prejudice difference in group violencewhich has not been previously used in the literature on gun policy opinion. Methods. We use data from a new survey (2015) and analyze whites, blacks, and Latinos separately. Results. We find that many of the drivers of support for gun control found in the general population apply to minorities as well, but the substantive effects vary across groups. Similar to prior general population findings, we find that for all groups concern about crime is associated with more support for gun control, and that gun ownership, being the victim of a crime, and conservative political values are associated with less support. Conclusion. In contrast, we find that racial prejudice is negatively correlated with support for gun control among whites and Latinos, while one type of racial prejudiceracial resentmentincreases support for gun control among blacks.
Surveys suggest the existence of substantial differences in gun policy preferences across racial groups. Generally, white Americans show far less support for restrictions on gun con- trol than do blacks or Latinos. For example, a 2015 Pew Research Center survey shows that 40 percent of whites compared to 72 percent of blacks and 75 percent of Latinos believe it is more important to control gun ownership rather than protect the gun rights of individuals (Pew Research Center, 2015). Yet little is known as to the origins and determinants of these racial differences in gun policy preferences. The vast majority of studies of gun policy opinion analyze general population samples; a few have looked at whites specifically. Only two studies have investigated the gun control preferences of African Americans (Kleck, 1996; McClain, 1983) and no study has looked at Latinos. The dearth of analyses of the policy preferences of these groups is not surprising as political science has paid far more attention to the interests, identities, and opinions of white Americans than to those of minorities (Junn and Matto, 2008; Filindra and Junn, 2012).
The literature on gun policy opinion has developed along three broad theoretical perspec- tives. First, some authors have privileged instrumental theories, emphasizing the influence of self-interest. Measures of self-interest typically include gun ownership, criminal victimiza- tion, and/or fear of crime (e.g., Kleck, 1996; Wolpert and Gimpel, 1998; Celinska, 2007).
Direct correspondence to Alexandra Filindra, Department of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago, 1007 West Harrison Street, Chicago, IL 60607-7137 [email protected]. The authors would like to thank Don HaiderMarkel, Mark Joslyn, Steven Corey, and Kate Boulay for their comments and edits. Funding for the 2015 YouGov survey was provided by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Development Discovery Grant program at the University of Illinois at Chicago (IRB

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