In 1860, 5 years before the legal end to slavery in the U.S., some counties, especially in the south, had more enslaved people.
Researchers looking at the trends in gun ownership across the states find these slavery statistics may reflect why some residents have more guns in the present.
In an attempt to understand trends in gun ownership across the USA, researchers described a shift in sentiment away from the predominant, pre-Civil War idea of guns as tools for hunting and sport and particularly in the south, a post-Civil War belief that a gun was necessary to protect the family.
The team from the University of Wisconsin-Madison discovered over 45% of the world’s civilian-owned firearms are held by those living in the united states – a country that only holds 5% of the global population today.
This disparity may be due to how American gun owners view gun ownership, showing that U.S. history, tied to slavery and white supremacy, may have affected how people hold to their military values in the modern day.
This disparity across the US has been speculated to have been caused by differences in historical beliefs as to why personal gun ownership is needed. areas with stronger connections to slavery and white supremacy may continue to promote pro-military and self-protection attitudes that result in high ownership of firearms.
Nick Buttrick, a University of Wisconsin–Madison professor of psychology, said: “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.”
— Open Access Government in Modern American Gun Ownership Values Can Be Linked to Slavery