Sunday, September 11, 2022

Firearms and Lynching

A new paper by Clemson University economists finds a significant negative correlation between black gun ownership and lynching.

They determined black gun ownership by measuring black gun suicides, which seems like a plausible proxy for gun ownership. 

Whi would have guessed it?


  1. Correlation =/= causation. Many lynching victims were taken from jails, and therefore could not have been armed, regardless of gun ownership. In other cases, it seems unlikely to me that one man with a pistol or shotgun could actually turn away an armed mob.

    It would depend on how organized the mob was. A spontaneous move by relatively few men might fizzle if the target displayed a firearm and threatened to shoot. But a large mob acting deliberately? Even if the mob retreated from the armed target for the moment, such defiance of white authority could not be tolerated; there would be a later attempt, planned to catch the target by surprise.

    My WAG is that both lynching of blacks and black disarmament were parallel outcomes of extreme white supremacism.

    1. Yes, indeed most were taken from jails, but armed blacks could have a powerful effect on the willingness of a mob to attempt such a lynching. One lynching in Florida was prevented by an armed black crowd. Later the same year, Florida passed its license law for carrying pistols and repeating rifles.

      Some of these lynchings were well planned: cutting down telegraph lines, tearing up railroad tracks, but many were heat of the moment stunts where at least some participants might have lost interest if bullets started to arrive.