America’s gun problem has everything to do with America’s masculinity problem

Elizabeth Winkler writes: After US president Obama’s call for restrictions on assault weapons on Dec. 6, Americans went gun shopping.

That Monday, The New York Times reports that stock prices for gun makers Smith & Wesson and Ruger soared. Guns sold well on Black Friday, too, the day after three people were shot dead at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado and just two weeks after terrorists killed more than one hundred in coordinated attacks in Paris. In fact, gun sales have been rising steadily all year, as though determined to keep pace with the growing frequency of high-profile shootings.

But who exactly are America’s gun owners?

According to a Pew survey conducted in 2014, Republicans are twice as likely as Democrats to be members of a gun-owning household. Gun owners are also geographically spread out: They’re just as likely to live in the Midwestern US (38%) as they are to live in on the West Coast (35%), or the South (34%), debunking the myth that gun ownership is more prevalent in southern states. (In the Northeast, by contrast, gun ownership is lower, at around 27%.)

Above all, though, gun owners are men. It is true that gun sales are rising among women, but a substantial gender gap persists: In 2013, men are around three times as likely as women to own a gun. [Continue reading…]

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