A silver bullet: Gun ownership and political participation in rural America
Middlewood, Alexandra T.
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Middlewood, A. T. (2021). A silver bullet: Gun ownership and political participation in rural America. Great Plains Research, 31(2), 159-171. doi:10.1353/gpr.2021.0022
Gun owners are highly participatory when it comes to politics. Those who own firearms are more likely to be registered to vote, to vote in elections, and to engage in various other gun-related and non-gun-related political behaviors. This participation is rooted in gun culture, where pro-gun organizations are extremely effective in mobilizing gun owners to engage in politics. Socialization into gun culture occurs when individuals have repeated exposure to firearms, which is more likely to occur in rural communities where guns are more prevalent. I hypothesize that gun ownership has a larger participatory effect in rural areas than in non-rural areas. Utilizing the Pew Research Center's American Trends data from 2017, this study explores the effect of gun ownership in participation on gun issues—contacting officials about gun policy, donating money to gun policy organizations, and discussing firearms on the internet. On engagement measures related to gun politics, I find that gun ownership has a larger effect on political participation in rural areas. This has potential implications for governing and policy, as rural Great Plains states are advantageously represented in key national political institutions.
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