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Study makes bizarre link between gun ownership and slavery

There are those who routinely try to claim that gun ownership is racist. They’ve made all kinds of claims and written all kinds of revisionist histories, all while trying to claim that the Second Amendment was intended to be a tool of oppression and a means to preserve slavery.

It’s quite a leap when you consider the racist history of gun control, which was created primarily to disarm freed slaves and other “undesirables” of the era.

A recent study tried to look for a link between gun ownership and slavery, likely to bolster these claims, and here’s what they found.

Firearms have been a part of American culture since the days of the founding fathers. Now, a team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has found a potential connection between modern U.S. gun ownership rates and slavery practices during the Civil War. Study authors say U.S. counties with more slaves in 1860 display a link with modern day residents owning more guns in the 21st century.

There’s no denying the United States has a unique relationship, both culturally and historically, with firearms. Over 45 percent of the planet’s civilian-owned firearms reside in the United States, despite only five percent of the human population living there.

“Gun culture is one case where American Exceptionalism really is true,” says Nick Buttrick, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of psychology, in a university release. “We are really radically different even from countries like Canada or Australia, places that have similar cultural roots.”

Study authors compared county-level population data from the 1860 census to gun ownership patterns in the present to reach these findings. Since there is no national record of gun ownership, researchers had to use a proxy; the proportion of suicides in a county that involved a firearm — per CDC mortality records between 1999 and 2016.

“What we see is a strong correlation between the number of slaves in a county in 1860 and the number of guns there now, even after we control for variables like personal politics, crime rates, and education and income,” Prof. Buttrick comments.

So, first, let’s note that they used a proxy that seems questionable to me. I mean, suicides that use a firearm isn’t necessarily a good indicator of gun ownership.

However, for the sake of argument, I’m going to ignore that. Especially since I’m not sure what kind of data they have access to in order to find a better proxy.

Now, let’s get into the meat of things. Are more slave-owning counties likely to also have high rates of gun ownership? Well, yeah, but those two things don’t have much to do with one another besides geography.

Slavery flourished in rural, agricultural counties that used that labor to harvest crops like tobacco and cotton, among other things.

These are the same rural, agricultural counties with limited law enforcement resources and a high probability of a longish wait for the police to come if something happens. As a result, these folks own guns.

It’s not rocket science here.

I mean, we’re talking about more than a century and a half of time has passed between these two occurrences. Slavery was dead and gone by 1865 and it’s now 2022. It’s not difficult to imagine a lot of things have changed in nearly 160 years.

The authors of the study argue that this work helps to understand how America’s gun culture was formed, but if that’s what they’re looking for, why start with slavery?

No, it seems to me there’s a distinct effort to masquerade the push to blame gun ownership and gun rights activism on racism and that’s all we’re seeing here. It’s sad and pathetic that supposed science, even social science, has been so perverted by anti-gun nonsense. This isn’t the first instance of it, nor will it be the last