What To Know Today

For some owners, gun rights are divine. As firearm purchases continue their historic surge, the underlying question of what motivates Americans to arm themselves calls out for more examination. University of Kansas researchers recently plumbed one under-explored area: religious beliefs. Participants in the small qualitative study, conducted in 2018 and 2019, cited fear of evil forces — both worldly and supernatural — to justify gun ownership and gun rights. Many religious gun owners also invoked a Christian duty to serve as a protector.

  • “Some gun owners believe God has called them to defend themselves against Satan and his evil ways, which might require firearms, and this defensive stance motivates opposition to gun control,” write the authors, who published their findings in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

The study builds on other research connecting certain religious convictions with opposition to gun restrictions. “For the substantial proportion of American society who are Christian nationalists, gun rights are God given and sacred,” wrote the authors of a 2018 paper. — Chip Brownlee, editorial fellow

A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot a Black man outside his home in Columbus, Ohio. Family members of Casey Goodson Jr. say the 23-year-old was returning from a dentist appointment and carrying a sandwich when the officer shot him in the back three times as he was entering his front door on Friday. The local U.S. Marshal said the deputy was assigned to a federal fugitive task force and had just finished an unsuccessful search for a suspect; Goodson was not a target of the sweep. Officers say they recovered a gun at the scene. Goodson was a licensed concealed carrier, according to his family. “At this point, witness testimony and physical evidence raise serious concerns about why Casey was even confronted, let alone why he was shot dead while entering his own home,” said the law firm representing Goodson’s relatives, who added that Goodson’s keys were found hanging in his door, “a reminder to his family of how close he was to safety.” 

Police arrest right-wing rallygoer for shooting at counter-protesters in Washington. The man was part of a pro-Trump protest near the state Capitol in Olympia on Saturday that ended up clashing with counter-demonstrators. Roughly 200 people — many armed with guns or makeshift weapons — had joined the melee when law enforcement officials say the 27-year-old suspect pulled out a pistol and fired on the crowd. The local police department indicated that one person may have been struck by the shots and urged witnesses to come forward. A 2020 trend: It was the 13th shooting by a person reportedly holding right-wing views since the police killing of George Floyd, according to a tally by geographer Alexander Reid Ross. 

San Francisco police union OKs plans to send counselors — not armed officers — to calls of people in crisis. The thumbs up clears the way for a new city policy that will dispatch fire and health department personnel to more than a dozen types of nonviolent incidents. “It’s going to free up more officers to do what traditionally police officers should be doing,” the police guild president said. A closer look: In September, we reported on the growing number of cities experimenting with alternative first responders as one way to reduce police shootings.  

Data Point

8 – the number of guns owned by the average firearm owner, according to an October market survey conducted by Smith & Wesson. [MarketWatch]