religionandguns

Research study challenges former notions that religious people are more likely to own guns.

A research study has revealed that people who are more involved with religion have a lower chance of owning guns. Analysis of the results suggests that this could possibly be because religious people may have more faith in institutions and communities compared to people who are less religious, thereby decreasing their need to rely on self-defense weapons.

The research conducted by Wake Forest University sociologist David Yamane is based on input obtained from General Social Survey data between 2006 and 2014. The findings can come as a huge surprise to Americans, especially because the prevailing belief is that those in the Bible-belt own more guns than people in other areas of the country. However, Yamane says “It is true that gun ownership is more common among rural residents and Southerners, but in terms of religion, Evangelical Protestants are no more likely to own handguns than Black Protestants, Catholics, Jews, or religious nones, all other things being equal.”


The research was conducted by analyzing factors such as attendance at places of worship and how the Bible is perceived. Although the study also took into consideration minority groups like Hindus, Buddhists, and Muslims, the number was too small to produce any major conclusions. The inferences drawn from these groups were negligible when seen against the larger fabric of America’s traditional religions.

The most important point to remember when looking at this research, however, is that the relationship between gun-ownership and religious affiliation changes depending on how you understand the term “religious.” Yamane says the results differ when you consider being religious as behaving, belonging and believing. He explains this with an example, a person who is involved with a religious congregation may have a lesser chance of owning a gun , perhaps due to his faith in the “community.” On the other hand, a person with a religious conservative take on theology has a higher chance of owning a gun because he/she may see it as “protection” against a “sinful world.”

The research will be published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. Yamane believes that although both sides of the gun debate would be tempted to “co-opt” religion for their side, his research clearly proves that neither of the parties has a monopoly over faith in America.

Resources

Follow the Conversation on Twitter