Defending the American Way: White-Masculine Gun Ownership and the Projection of Power

Ryan J. Fisher, Roger Williams University

A Thesis Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in History.


Though the nature of gun ownership has evolved throughout American history since the colonial era, white-masculinity has persistently underpinned gun ownership as a white-men prerogative, reinforcing the masculine values of provider, protector, and rugged individualism while mythologizing narratives of the citizen militia and western frontier. The nation’s current dominant gun culture emerged from the history of gun ownership that projected and enforced white-masculine power. Threatened by post-war social, political, and economic disruption in the form of activism, white-men conservatives took up arms in the post-war gun culture to reinforce their individual masculinity and construct a culture to defend white-masculinity’s social dominance. Institutionalized through the National Rifle Association, gun rights laws, and conservative politics, the post-war dominant gun culture rests at the center of contemporary America’s divisive discussion of gun ownership and violence.