Juries, Gender, and Assault Weapons


Glenn E. Meyer, Department of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio, TX 78212. E-mail: gmeyer@trinity.edu


Firearms appearance can have psychological import in legal proceedings by keying aggressive ideations, impacting sentencing and gender-based attributions. We presented mock jurors with a homeowner's defensive gun use. Reasonable arguments were for shooting or not in the scenario by the defendant. The firearm varied in type. Assault rifle use led to harsher legal outcomes than did other firearms. A female defendant was at more risk than a male. In the last experiment, a police shooting scenario was tested. In that case, the male officer was at more risk than the female officer when wielding the assault rifle. Weapons and gender interactions were, for the most part, congruent with social cognitive theories of attribution and weapons priming of aggressive ideation.