Individuals develop causal narratives that help explain events, behaviors, and conditions. Individuals ascribe events and behaviors to controllable components, such as individual choice, or uncontrollable components, such as broader forces in the environment. We join attribution theory with motivated reasoning and outline how gun ownership structures perceptions of mass shootings and subsequent blame.
Using individual‐level data from national surveys we examine the connection between causal attributions for mass shootings and gun ownership.
Our findings suggest that firearm possession engenders self‐serving attributions about the causes of gun violence and resists calls for policy changes after mass shooting.
Given the significant proportion of citizens who own guns, the prospect for policy changes that address gun‐related causes of mass shootings is unlikely.