Black Americans and Firearms: A National Mixed-Methods Exploration of the Attitudes of Legal Black Gun Owners

Recent conversations and debates about gun violence prevention policy are at the forefront of the national political discourse. An overwhelming majority of the narratives that support the Second Amendment have come from the perspectives of White males in this country. The attitudes of Black legal firearm owners have been neglected within the dominant discourse surrounding firearms. Additionally, firearm scholarship has also contributed to the exclusion of Black voices on matters of gun policy and debates.
This mixed-methodological study aims to close this gap by centering the experiences and opinions of Black men and women legal gun owners. Building on Monica Bell’s concept of Legal Estrangement, our work seeks to sort out how Black New Jerseyans make sense of their relationship to law enforcement in a time when racial disparities in policing have been made powerfully salient. We are especially interested in understanding how patterns of legal firearm ownership might be uniquely related to alienation from racist policing and attitudes about policing efficacy.
We hope to reorient and deepen the existing research, public conversation, and policy debate by including the perspectives and experiences of a diverse group of Black people-many of whom may well care deeply about crime and gun violence, racism, police brutality, and racial disparities in the criminal justice system- and who also, for a diverse range of reasons, are advocates of gun rights as well. We have partnered with the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA) to conduct this study. This partnership will assist with data collection by sharing solicitations for participation and engagement with their members around the country.

Project Status
In progress

Principal Investigator (PI): Tyrell Connor, PhD, Associate Professor, State University of New York

Co-Principal Investigator (PI): Ryan LeCount, PhD, Associate Professor, Hamline University