Political Behavior

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 255–275 | Cite as

Racial Resentment and Whites’ Gun Policy Preferences in Contemporary America

Original Paper

Abstract

Our study investigates how and why racial prejudice can fuel white opposition to gun restrictions. Drawing on research across disciplines, we suggest that the language of individual freedom used by the gun rights movement utilizes the same racially meaningful tropes as the rhetoric of the white resistance to black civil rights that developed after WWII and into the 1970s. This indicates that the gun rights narrative is color-coded and evocative of racial resentment. To determine whether racial prejudice depresses white support for gun control, we designed a priming experiment which exposed respondents to pictures of blacks and whites drawn from the IAT. Results show that exposure to the prime suppressed support for gun control compared to the control, conditional upon a respondent’s level of racial resentment. Analyses of ANES data (2004–2013) reaffirm these findings. Racial resentment is a statistically significant and substantively important predictor of white opposition to gun control.

Keywords

Racial resentment Symbolic racism Prejudice Gun control Public policy Public opinion 

Supplementary material

11109_2015_9326_MOESM1_ESM.docx (118 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 117 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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