A study conducted by two political science professors at the University of Illinois in Chicago claims whites own guns because they are racist.
Professors claim whites own guns because they are racists
Two political science professors at the University of Illinois in Chicago have published a study entitled “Testing Theories of Gun Policy Preferences Among Blacks, Latinos, and Whites in America” that claims white people in America own guns because they are racist. The study was published by Alexandra Filindra, Assistant Professor of Political Science, and Noah Kaplan, Clinical Assistance Professor. Originally published in an academic journal, the study has now been reported by the Washington Post and is making headlines in other anti-gun liberal publications.
Among the “findings” made by the two researchers, is that “racial prejudice is negatively correlated with support for gun control among whites and Latinos, while one type of racial prejudice—racial resentment—increases support for gun control among blacks.” In non-academic vernacular, the professors assert that whites who oppose gun control are racially prejudiced, while blacks who support gun control do so out of racial resentment.
Problems with the researcher’s data
The researchers cite a plethora of unverified, unpublished, or even discredited data sources to arrive at their findings, including a July 2015 Pew poll, an internal University of Illinois in Chicago “survey”, and a widely-refuted 2013 “O’Brian” study described as “poorly done research” by the Crime Prevention Research Center.
Issues with the 2013 O’Brian study were noted by academics and critics immediately after it was published. Among these, it was noted that the “Black Violent Stereotype” and “Implicit racism” data points were not significant when all other factors were taken into account. One critic noted, “The paper arbitrarily uses only a subset of the factors that can account for gun ownership… some of the variables that could have been accounted for but were not [include]: religion and church attendance rate, marital status, party registration, home ownership, the state that the lived it (not just whether they were in the South, but even other parts of the country or particular states), and who they supported for president.”
Of even more concern to legitimate statisticians, the study’s findings were based on data collected from only one racial group; whites. “With 3,292 whites in the sample,” one critic noted, “it would have been very easy to account for these other factors.”
The study does not explain the recent surge of concealed-carry permits among black citizens, nor does it explain the popularity of the National African-American Gun Association. It does not cite the history behind gun control; its early adoption by a repressive (and largely white) British government against its restless American colony, nor its later embrace by civil-war era (also white) Democrats to disarm recently freed blacks.
Economist reported in 2013 that the O’Brian data cited by UIC professors was “obviously false”
In 2013, John Lott, an American economist and gun-rights advocate, decided to test the findings asserted in the 2013 O’Brian study cited by UIC professors Filindra and Kaplan in their recent publication. Lott previously conducted the largest studies on crime under a federal grant, was the chief economist at the United States Sentencing Commission, and is a noted author of numerous gun-related publications.
The 2013 O’Brian study surveyed only white people. Lott applied the study’s same methodology to a more diverse racial population. After extensive computer analysis, Lott concluded the claims made by the 2013 study were “obviously false.”
Lott noted that, “running the regression on non-whites produces the same result and raises the same question about their measure of symbolic racism.” In effect, Lott discovered that non-whites felt the same way as whites did about gun control, concealed carry, and handguns.
In other words, when the study was applied to other racial groups, it produced the same results, demonstrating that racism was NOT a factor when it comes to how people feel about guns.
“The notion that gun owners must be racist appears to fit journalists’ worldview so well it probably never dawned on them that this research was fatally flawed.” Economist John Lott, on the 2013 study data (cited by UIC professors Filindra and Kaplan)
Lott published his findings in 2013 to FoxNews. He pulled no punches with his opinion on the academic fraud purported by the study’s author, “If his own study is an example of the quality of the academic research the government would fund, we are indeed better served not wasting taxpayer dollars on it.”
Lott also noted one reason why that 2013 study, despite its obvious flaws, was so widely reported, “The notion that gun owners must be racist appears to fit journalists’ worldview so well it probably never dawned on them that this research was fatally flawed.”
Filindra and Kaplan: An example of twisting poor research to support a desired political narrative
Filindra and Kaplan appear to have based their questionable research in large part on that 2013 O’Brian study. The professors cite that study in the opening of their paper and conclude, “racial resentment is a significant predictor of gun policy preferences among whites”
The professor’s incorrect conclusions illustrate a risk common to isolated or frustrated academics; the risk of conforming poor academic research to fit a desired personal narrative. In this case, the professors appear to have wanted to prove that whites were racist, perhaps because they support the liberal narrative that Trump was elected by racist white-Americans.
From her prior publications, Filindra appears to support many liberal positions, including its disdain for enforcing federal immigration laws. The professor now appears to be directing her efforts towards bolstering another false liberal narrative; that white [gun owners] must be racists.
In doing so, the UIC professors join a large and vocal group of liberals straining to explain America’s “shift to center”. To paraphrase noted economist Lott’s observation, the 2013 O’Brian study “appears to fit [the professor’s] worldview so well it probably never dawned on them that this research was fatally flawed.”