Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

Sociology, MA

Committee Chair

Byrd, W. Carson

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Schroeder, Ryan

Committee Member

Schroeder, Ryan

Committee Member

Owen, David S.

Author's Keywords

Race; whiteness; guns; racial formation; racial contract; masculinity


Public discourse on the topic of gun ownership in the U.S. is polarized, with the debate framed as a binary between unquestioned gun rights versus a complete ban. Gun ownership can have grave consequences: guns are used to commit acts of violence and suicide. Interviews with white male gun owners explore the influence of white backlash, masculinity, and racial identity development in their decisions to own guns. This project explores the extent these reasons are related to race on the part of white males, starting with these two questions: How much does race play a factor in the action and thought related to guns? To what extent does a “white backlash” (King 1967) relate to gun ownership? Ultimately, the participants rarely expressed overt racialized sentiments or white backlash. However, themes emerged that align with current literature to suggest how gun ownership among white men operates as a “racial project” (Omi and Winant [1986] 2015) that reinforces white male hegemony.