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KS – GUN RIGHTS – Religion shapes American attitudes about gun ownership, study shows

Whether it’s a fear of violence or a steadfast belief in constitutional rights, Americans have strong opinions on why they need guns. But concerns about Satan and Armageddon also enter into their decision-making. “People have these stereotypes of religious individuals and think their connections to guns are simple, when in fact they’re fairly complex,” said Margaret Kelley, associate professor of American studies at the University of Kansas. “One of our main findings is religion actually drives responsible gun ownership. Because of their duty, they needed to be diligent about training and practicing and making sure they are careful with their firearm.” That’s among the revelations in her new article, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Gun Ownership,” which looks at how such beliefs shape national attitudes about these weapons. It appears in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Co-written with Abigail Vegter, a KU doctoral student in political science, the article incorporates interviews with dozens of Christian gun owners in the Midwest. This research suggests religious ethic “guides individual gun owners to stress the need to protect, be diligent and defend.” For example, one such subject named Greg, a 63-year-old white man, discusses watching the film “American Sniper.” In this biopic of Chris Kyle, the Navy SEAL sniper is asked why he chose that job. “He goes, ‘Because there’s evil in the world,'” Greg recalled in the article. Greg confirmed that supernatural evil was his chief reason for keeping firearms, whether as a protection from Satan or as a way to stave off the apocalypse. Kelley noted that white evangelical Protestants are not only more likely to possess guns, but they are also less likely to support gun control. They are also more inclined to address gun violence with policy interventions that don’t reduce the amount or types of firearms such as “expanded concealed carry laws, better mental health screenings and a greater emphasis on God in public schools and society.” Despite this close connection to the weapons themselves, Kelley found that actually firing them presented entirely different responses.  [full article]

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