The great american gun war: Notes from four decades in the trenches
In this essay I provide an account of how research on gun violence has evolved over the last four decades, intertwined with personal observations and commentary on my contributions. It begins with a sketch of the twentieth century history of gun control in the United States. I then provide an account of why gun violence is worth studying, with a discussion of how and why the type of weapon used in crime matters, and assess the social costs of the widespread private ownership of firearms. I then detour into the methodological disputes over estimating basic facts relevant to understanding gun use and misuse. In Section IV, I focus on how gun availability influences the use of guns in crime and whether the incidence of misuse is influenced by the prevalence of gun ownership, regulations, and law enforcement. I go on to review evaluations of efforts to focus law enforcement directly at gun use in violent crime. Next I turn to the hottest topic of our day, the role of guns in self-defense and what might be deemed private deterrence. The conclusion summarizes the claims and counterclaims concerning gun regulation and asks, finally, if there is the possibility of an influential role for scientific research in the policy debate. © 2013 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
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