Sexual Dysfunction and Gun Ownership in America: When Hard Data Meet a Limp Theory




Hill, Terrence D.
Dowd-Arrow, Benjamin
Ellison, Christopher G.
Garcia-Alexander, Ginny
Bartkowski, John P.
Burdette, Amy M.

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SAGE Publications


Although there has been no direct empirical evidence linking sexual dysfunction (SD) with gun ownership, speculation has been widespread and persistent for decades. In this paper, we formally examine the association between SD and gun ownership. Our primary hypothesis, derived from the psychosexual theory of gun ownership, asserts that men experiencing SD are more likely to personally own guns than other men. To test this hypothesis, we used recently collected data from the 2021 Crime, Health, and Politics Survey (CHAPS), a national probability sample of 780 men, and binary logistic regression to model gun ownership as a function of SD. Our key finding is that men experiencing SD are no more likely to own guns than men without SD. This interpretation was supported across several indicators of SD (performance anxiety, erection trouble, and ED medication) and gun ownership (personal gun ownership, purchasing a gun during the pandemic, and keeping a gun in one’s bedroom). To our knowledge, we are the first to have directly tested the association between SD and gun ownership in America. Our findings are important because they contribute to our understanding of factors associated with gun ownership by challenging the belief that phallic symbolism and masculinity somehow drive men with SD to purchase guns. Our results also remind us of the perils of gun culture rhetoric, which, in this case, function to discredit gun owners and to further stigmatize men with ED. We conclude by calling for more evidence-based discussions of SD and guns in society.



guns, firearms, sexual dysfunction, erectile dysfunction, pandemic


Hill, T. D., Dowd-Arrow, B., Ellison, C. G., Garcia-Alexander, G., Bartkowski, J. P., & Burdette, A. M. (2021). Sexual Dysfunction and Gun Ownership in America: When Hard Data Meet a Limp Theory. American Journal of Men's Health, 15(5), 15579883211044342. doi:10.1177/15579883211044342