He’s white, married or divorced, high income, and over 55 years old. Unsurprisingly, he’s also more than twice as likely to be a member of “social gun culture” than those who don't own firearms. In all, almost one in three Americans owns at least one gun, but gun ownership rates vary widely across states. At 61.7 percent, Alaska has the highest rate of gun ownership, while Delaware has the lowest, at 5.2 percent.
Kalesan's study defined “social gun culture” as a phenomenon in which
friends or family would think less of you if you didn’t own a gun, and
if your social life with friends and family involved guns. Any survey
participant who answered “yes” to any of these statements was
categorized as being part of social gun culture.
the dynamics at play in social gun culture, according to Kalesan, will
be key to sparking social change about the attitudes and practices that
inform gun ownership in the first place. She said educating Americans
about the health dangers of having a firearm in their homes will change
the way people feel about gun ownership, which in turn could drive laws
that make guns more difficult to obtain.
"A public health
approach, much like the anti-tobacco effort, is necessary, first to
facilitate a social change and then political will to form effective
policies,” Kalesan told HuffPost. "We also need research to understand
the public health consequences in different communities and to identify
effective social interventions in different populations."
For instance, past research has found a link between the rate of household gun ownership and elevated rates of firearm-suicide,
despite the fact that gun owners do not have more mental health
problems than non-gun owners, nor are they more prone to suicide than
non-gun owners. Other studies have found that gun ownership leads to more violent crime in general, as guns tend fall into the wrong hands when stolen or sold on secondary markets.