Legally Armed but Presumed Dangerous: An Intersectional Analysis of Gun Carry Licensing as a Racial/Gender Degradation Ceremony

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10 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article analyzes gun carry licensing as a disciplinary mechanism that places African American men in a liminal zone where they are legally armed but presumed dangerous, even as African Americans now experience broadened access to concealed pistol licenses (CPLs) amid contemporary U.S. gun laws. Using observational data from now-defunct public gun boards in Metropolitan Detroit, this article systematically explores how CPLs are mobilized by administrators to reflect and reinforce racial/gender hierarchies. This article broadens scholarly understandings of how tropes of criminality shape racialized men’s encounters with the state beyond nonvoluntary, coercive settings and unpacks how race and gender interlock to shape these encounters. I extend insights from intersectionality scholarship to examine gun board meetings as degradation ceremonies whereby African American men are held accountable to controlling images of Black masculinity in exchange for a CPL. This article sharpens the conceptual apparatus that accounts for marginalized men’s subordination vis-à-vis the state by focusing on the provision of legitimate violence and revealing the persistent, if paradoxical, mobilization of legitimate violence in the reproduction of racial/gender hierarchies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-227
Number of pages24
JournalGender and Society
Volume32
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • degradation ceremonies
  • gun licensing
  • intersectionality
  • legitimate violence
  • masculinity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science

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