Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Rachael A. Woldoff

Committee Co-Chair

Corey Colyer

Committee Member

Jesse Wozniak


This research examines how members of a rural police department view gun control, and the degree to which they think that gun control laws protect police officers and the public. Drawing on conclusions from interviews with twenty police officers within one local sheriff's department, three themes emerged: 1) the officers rejected gun control laws and deemed them ineffective for controlling criminal behavior; 2) the officers showed support for specific gun control measures such as, citizens obtaining concealed carry permits and expanding gun background checks; 3) the officers deemed guns to be an essential part of rural upbringing and identity. We concluded that based upon the officers conflicting views that there is conflict between the multiple identities the officers have. First, officers' identify as rural gun owners, who because of their upbringing see the symbolic value of gun ownership. Second, the officers identify as law enforcement officials and see the practicality of owning guns, but also see the flaws in current gun legislation. The study concludes by discussing the importance for politicians when creating future gun legislation to recognize the differences in rural and urban gun cultures.