Coronavirus & the Politics of Guns

Since the surge in COVID-19 cases in the United States in early March 2020, Americans have cleared shelves of food, toiletries, and other essential items—including guns and ammunition. The pandemic provides a unique opportunity to unravel how the social life of guns is reproduced, and remade, in the context of public health crises.

Who can participate?

This study, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on gun sellers in Arizona, California, Florida and Michigan. These are states that vary in terms of the restrictiveness of their gun laws, their exposure to COVID-19, and their formal, government responses to the pandemic. In doing so, this study aims to contribute to scholarship on the sociology of risk, rights consciousness, and the social life of markets by focusing on gun sellers poised at the frontlines of surges in gun sales.

What happens if you participate?

Your participation would involve about a half-hour to an hour of your time. If you agree, you will be asked to participate in an interview either over the phone or via video conferencing, which will include questions about your thoughts on how the pandemic has impacted gun culture, gun politics, and gun sales as well as demographic questions. I am really interested in your thoughts on what’s changed inside your gun store, how guns figure into the formal and informal measures taken by government officials, and what you see as the long-term impacts of the pandemic on guns in America.

All information you provide will be confidential. You are free to refuse to answer any question, to stop the interview at any time, and to withdraw from the study. With your permission, the interviews will be audio-recorded; once they are transcribed and de-identified, audio-recorded interviews are deleted, and no identifiable personal attributes will be associated with the transcribed interview. An Institutional Review Board responsible for human subjects research at the University of Arizona reviewed this research project and found it to be acceptable, according to applicable state and federal regulations and University policies designed to protect the rights and welfare of participants in research. As compensation for your time, you will receive a $15 gift card to Other than the opportunity to speak about your experiences, which some study participants may experience as beneficial, there are no direct benefits to you as a study participant.

For detailed information on the study, please read the Study Information Sheet.

Please contact me if you are interested in participating!

Jennifer Carlson, PhD
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ



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