Changing Face Of Gun Ownership In United States


Learning how to shoot a handgun at a Las Vegas gun convention had never been on Jennifer Hubbert’s bucket list. But last fall, the professor of anthropology and Asian studies found herself doing just that. “Given my research, it felt like something I needed to do,” she says.

Hubbert is currently exploring a novel question regarding gun culture in the United States: “What does it mean to be a liberal gun owner?” The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has recently awarded Hubbert with a grant to support her research and book project: Gun Culture 4.0: Understanding the New Demographics of Gun Ownership in the United States 

In her newest line of research, Hubbert, who teaches at Lewis & Clark College, is asking questions about the changing landscape of gun ownership.

According to Hubbert, gun ownership in the U.S. has “skyrocketed” recently: 40% of gun purchases are by those new to guns, and “women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and self-defined “liberals” are arming themselves at unprecedented rates.” 

“This project seeks to diversify the voices that reflect on the meanings of guns in the United States,” says Hubbert.  

This research is aligned with the NEH’s new program, Dangers and Opportunities of Technology: Perspectives from the Humanities, which supports research that, in part, examines “the role of technology in shaping current social and cultural issues.” Two years of NEH support will enable Hubbert to work with a research assistant, complete primary ethnographic fieldwork among non-traditional gun owners, draft the book manuscript, and present this pioneering and understudied research at professional meetings.

Hubbert is using her expertise in ethnographic research to bring new voices to the conversation through a variety of methods—including interviewing gun owners, attending book groups, participating in gun range events, and attending gun shows and club trainings. 

As Hubbert writes, “Exploring the relationship between guns and society, and adding diversity to the national conversation about gun ownership, has the potential to offer new ways of thinking about gun violence and the policies meant to contain it.” 

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