Over the past few years, far more women have favored banning semi-automatic weapons. A full two-thirds of women favor a ban compared to only 48% of men, according to a 2013 Pew study. Indeed, women tend to prioritize gun restrictions over gun rights generally, unlike their male counterparts. Couple this with the fact that the vast majority of mass shooters are also men, and a pattern emerges. America’s gun problem can’t be distilled down to one single issue, of course, but it’s clear that on top of crime and fears of terrorism and insufficient mental health resources and the Second Amendment, America’s gun problem has something to do with America’s masculinity problem.
As Alankaar Sharma, a social worker and researcher, tells Quartz, “Possessing a gun is considered by many men, if not most, as a straightforward way of subscribing to dominant masculinity.” In his view, the patriarchal system, which privileges a certain set of masculine behaviors, values, and practices, provides men with “a clear and justifiable reason to own guns.” It cements their identity as masculine men.