“Symbolic Racism” — Through a Glass, Darkly

An admittedly subjective review of “Racism, Gun Ownership and Gun Control: Biased Attitudes in US Whites May Influence Policy Decisions”, from PLOS ONE

I freely admit to my weakness in (and impatience with) following ‘academic-speak’, and thus, by extension, admit to my lack of comprehension of some of the key arguments advanced in this paper. While PLOS ONE advertises it as “peer-reviewed”, I have found no such reviews to this point. The article is well-referenced, but most of the referenced articles I sought were not available fee-free. As a result, I can not/will not pursue any further research on the matter.

The Conclusion states: “Symbolic racism was related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in US whites. The findings help explain US whites’ paradoxical attitudes towards gun ownership and gun control. Such attitudes may adversely influence US gun control policy debates and decisions.”

Note the phrase “symbolic racism”. Said attitude is described as being “related to having a gun in the home and opposition to gun control policies in US whites.” Note that the study says “related to”, without any indication of causation. Such subliminal qualifications abound throughout the paper.

“Racism is related to policies preferences and behaviors that adversely affect blacks and appear related to a fear of blacks (e.g., increased policing, death penalty). ~ Objective

“Most prominently, symbolic racism (racial resentment), an explicit but subtle form and measure of racism, has been found to be consistently related to peoples decisions regarding policies that may affect non-white US citizens.” ~ Introduction

“There remains considerable resistance in the US to even cursory gun controls, and the reasons for owning a gun and opposing gun reform (i.e., self-protection, safety, fear of crime)…are not supported by the evidence on gun-related harms.”

I see two problems with this article. First, there is strong evidence of the paper’s arguments falling into the logical fallacy of “correlation without causation”. I leave this to the reader to decide.

Secondly, it is well-established that the roots of gun control in America are, themselves, racist. This also is well-documented, and once again I leave it up to the reader to verify that to his own satisfaction.

Sources:

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0077552

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