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  • Robert Farago

Study: Youth Gun Culture is Misogynistic and Racist

Is it?

When I ran The Truth About Guns, I was confronted with stories that claimed all sorts of ridiculous things based on “studies.” My man Leghorn – a high level data security expert – taught me to drill down to the data to find the bias leading to the headline-grabbing claims. Stories like…

That’s quite a statement – one that fits the anti-gun narrative to a T: people who believe in gun rights are misogynistic racists.

This is how Jennifer Gerson of – “your trusted source for contextualizing health and safety news” – summarized the findings of the report:

This first-of-its-kind look at American youth’s attitudes about gun violence polled over 4,000 American young people between the ages of 14 and 30 from a nationally representative sample over the past year. The researchers, who also conducted qualitative focus groups with participants, found that youth with stronger male supremacist and racist attitudes tend to hold stronger beliefs that adults in schools should be armed, feel safer with guns than without guns, and have stronger trust in the police. 

First, notice that the sensational “revelation” – pro-gun youth exhibit “male supremacist and racist attitudes” – comes from the qualitative focus groups, not the general survey.

I repeat: that conclusion does not derive from a survey of 4k young Americans.

Reading Appendix D of U.S. Youth Attitudes on Guns, we discover that the “qualitative survey” involved 35 volunteers for “in-depth, semistructured focus groups one-on-one interviews.” Presumably led by the report’s authors, who are…

… two scholars of color trained in social psychology and sociocultural and linguistic anthropology, respectively. Rae Jereza, Ph.D., an anthropologist, is a queer Filipinx scholar whose work is shaped by critical approaches to the study of right-wing phenomena in the U.S. Pasha Dashtgard, Ph.D., a social psychologist and formerly worked as a mental health professional, is a cis, heterosexual male, is Jewish and Persian, researches male supremacy and online radicalization and focuses on applied interventions to address extremism.

If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

These extremist-hunting hammers worked for not one not two but three gun control groups: Everytown for Gun Safety, American University’s Polarization and Extremism Research and Innovation Lab (PERIL) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

The researchers didn’t ask the wider survey group questions which could account for the headline conclusions. Like “what are your views about minorities/women?”

Here’s the actual question that touched on issues of race and gender:

How do you infer anything racist or misogynistic from the answer to that question? Especially as it asks about groups to which the respondent feels “deeply connected.”

No doubt the focus group leaders “probed deeper” to uncover the attitudes besmirching minorities and women. Their interaction is not described in any detail.

Equally, despite wrapping their study in claims of academically-approved methodology, the report found exactly what it wanted to find. As many if not most studies tackling political topics do.

The bottom line: anti-gun orgs preach to the converted. That’s no surprise. Neither is it a mystery that like-minded media outlets find no reason to dig deeper and question the propaganda they’re fed. And every reason to accept it at face value.

As for whether or not young gun owners are racist or misogynistic, I assume they are no more or less so than young people who are not part of “gun culture.” Depending on how you define terms and who’s asking.

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