Study: Gun owners don’t just fear crime, believe society ‘at brink of collapse’

WASHINGTON — Gun ownership in the United States has long been a topic of controversy split along party lines, but supporters’ beliefs may be more profound that you might think. A new study finds the desire to own a handgun for self defense is not simply the result of one’s concern about being a victim of a crime, but also linked with “the belief that the world is an unpredictable and dangerous place and that society is at the brink of collapse.”

Scientists from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and the University of Maryland proposed a model that concluded “it is not just concrete, specific threats that change our behavior, but also vague, general ideas about threat,” according to a press release from the Society for Personality and Social Psychology.

Man firing a gun
A new study finds that gun owners purchase firearms not only to protect themselves during a crime, but also because they hold dark, deep-seated beliefs about the world.

The researchers conducted a series of studies on 839 men in the United States, 404 of whom were gun owners while 435 were not. Those who identified as gun owners possessed an average of four firearms. In their initial experiment, the team surveyed both groups about their gun-related beliefs for comparison. They then used the surveys of strictly gun owners to test their two-sided theory.

The authors concluded that one’s fear of crime in and of itself didn’t justify the gun owner’s need to purchase a firearm.

“Different forces are making people feel threatened in different ways, and yet these different types of threat both correlate with increased handgun ownership and stronger beliefs that people have a right to kill in self-defense,” says co-author Wolfgang Stroebe, of the University of Groningen, who proposed the model.

Stroebe adds that the fear of crime was mainly linked to a participant being victimized in the past, but their dark perception of the world as a whole and its potential to crumble was strongly influenced by their political beliefs and not any one or group of experiences.

The research, conducted in May and June 2016 before the Orlando Nightclub shootings, was again replicated with a new group of male gun owners after the massacre.

“We expected the Orlando mass shooting to move the needle on the belief systems of gun owners, so we were surprised that there was practically no effect,” admits Stroebe.

The authors noted that this study pertained to handgun owners and not people who only own long guns, such semi-automatic and bolt-action rifles, shotguns, and sniper rifles. Their research found people who owned those weapons were more often linked to hunting than anything else.

The study’s findings were published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.


  1. another group of European academics searching for excuses the demonize gun owners!!


  2. The phrase about believing society to be “at the brink of collapse” is ambiguous. What does that even mean? Certainly, riots by looters and arsonists can break out unpredictably. Certainly, or order has disappeared in some cities upon a large-scale electric black-out — which could occur at any time.

    As for the Orlando Pulse massacre, it is generally believed that the number of people who could potentially be radicalized by ISIS propaganda is increasing, not decreasing in this country. Experience across various countries through the decades suggests that the frequency of jihadi terrorist attacks is far dependent upon this number than it is dependent upon a country’s foreign policy or the availability of firearms. (For example, there were few such attacks on mainland France in the early 1950s despite France’s activities in Algeria and the greater availability of firearms in France at the time. There were many terrorist acts in Algeria but not in France, because there were few people in France at the time who would have shared the terrorists’ basic culture and world view.)

    More potential terrorism requires a greater capacity for self-defense.

    1. Exactly, the researchers did NOT parse between general concern for risk of local and even short term interruptions in rule of law, such as delayed or absent police response we are seeing in Texas and Florida right now due to hurricains, ans “collapse.”

      They could literally say the same thing about people with a first aid kit, and week supply of drinking water – something every government preparedness organization in the world says you should have.

      IE this is more JUNK science with an agenda. Making people who view basic and elementary preparedness as if they are expect a zombie apocalypse or an alien invasion

  3. I’d rather be part of the 404 who are prepared, than the 435 idiots who rely on the police to save them.

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