- Thomson Reuters
House Democrats staged a sit-in Wednesday demanding Republicans permit a vote on gun-control legislation.
Two days earlier, the Senate failed to pass four pieces of gun-control legislation that were proposed after 49 people were shot dead at an Orlando nightclub. The laws would have expanded background checks and barred individuals on the FBI’s terror watch list from purchasing firearms.
Gun-control proponents had seemingly hoped that after this month’s terror attack, the deadliest mass shooting in US history, those opposed to tightening controls on the purchasing of firearms would have eased their stance.
But psychology suggests otherwise.
Clark McCauley, a research professor of psychology at Bryn Mawr College who studies the psychology of terrorism, told Business Insider that most people develop their views on guns from a relatively young age. It has to do largely with the family and the subculture where they were raised.
People who grew up hunting and visiting shooting ranges, he said, often think gun ownership is “the most natural thing in the world.”
That’s why they may be unlikely to change their views on gun ownership as adults.
Indeed, research published in 2015 by Columbia University’s Dr. Bindu Kalesan suggested that gun owners are more than twice as likely to belong to a “social gun culture,” meaning their social life involves guns and their friends and family may think less of them if they don’t own one.
It’s unclear whether belonging to a social gun culture causes people to purchase guns or if it’s the other way around. Instead, it seems likely that the relationship works both ways.
“The link between social gun culture and gun ownership also suggest one avenue through which modern conceptions of the primacy of gun ownership, despite the potential public health consequences, are reinforced,” Kalesan and her co-authors wrote.
In other words, even if an individual agrees there could be devastating consequences if guns were to get into the wrong hands, opposition to stricter gun-control laws would likely remain. It’s the way the person was raised, and his or her community.
McCauley noted that tragic events such as the Orlando shooting only encourage people on both sides of the issue to rise up again, rooted firmly as ever in their own beliefs.
“Hardly anyone is changing their mind,” he said.