Sometimes (but Not This Time), a Gun Is Just a Gun: Masculinity Threat and Guns in the United States, 1999–2018

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Today, despite national campaigns and mass shootings, gun sales continue to rise. The majority of gun owners in the United States are men, and prior research has documented the complex relationship between masculinity and gun ownership. However, a majority of the research has remained on the micro level. In this article, we look at the effects of men’s unemployment on gun ownership. Using both national- and state-level Federal Bureau of Investigation background-check data as well as economic indicators, we find that worsening economic conditions for men (relative to women) lead to increases in gun sales. Moreover, this effect is exacerbated by the prevalence of guns in an area. We supplement these analyses with nationally representative survey data showing a strong relationship between perceptions of threat to men’s gender identities and opposition to laws limiting access to guns.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSociological Forum
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2019



  • crime
  • gender
  • gun ownership
  • masculinity
  • threat perceptions
  • unemployment

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