The USA is said to have the largest amount of civilian gun ownership in the world. It has been estimated by the Small Arms Survey of 2007 that for every 100 persons in the US there are 89 guns. According to Gallup Inc, gun owners of America are predominately male, white, between the ages of 50 – 64 and live in the south. This statistic does not necessary match what we see on mainstream media.

On television shows and in Hollywood films many gun owners are represented as young African American males ready to commit heinous crimes in heavily populated urban areas. If the truth were shown in mainstream media most gun owners would be represented as middle-aged men from the rural south. Why do these men own guns? Many say to protect their family and property, while others are hunters who kill their own meat.

As a single, white, vegetarian, woman, I find firearm ownership totally unnecessary at best and down right scary in the worst-case scenario. My fear is exacerbated by the killings at Virginia Tech where I am an Associate Professor in The School Of Visual Arts. The events of April 16, 2007, have left an indelible mark on me. So much so that I have had repeated nightmares of being shot while teaching. However as I examine gun ownership and come to know people who own firearms I am developing a deeper understanding of this complex issue.

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