Gun Control

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Gun Control


Many scholars have suggested that British' positions on gun control are the product of culture conflicts. This assertion has been largely based on associations of gun control opinion with membership in social groups believed to be hostile, or favorable, towards gun ownership, rather than with direct measures of the cultural traits thought to mediate the effects of group membership on gun control opinion. Data from a 2005 national telephone survey were analyzed to test competing theories of why people support handgun bans. Instrumental explanations, which stress belief in a policy's likely effectiveness, accounted for less than 25 percent of the variation in support. The results supported the culture conflict perspective. Those who endorsed negative stereotypes about gun owners, and who did not believe in the need to defend their own homes against crime (versus relying on the police) were more likely to support handgun bans(Haider-Markel and Joslyn, 2001).

Table of Content




Instrumental explanations5


Culture conflict explanations7



Hypothesis 29

Hypothesis 39







It might seem obvious why people support gun control—they want to reduce violence, and believe that gun control will help accomplish this goal. There are, however, severe limits to this instrumentalist explanation. National surveys have shown that, although large majorities favor many kinds of gun controls, most British also doubt that gun control will have these effects. For example, as far back as 1978, a national poll asked “If there were to be more firearm laws, would you expect the crime rate to decrease or increase?,” and 41 percent of respondents said they believed that crime rates would be unaffected, while another 16 percent thought that crime would increase with more controls (Decision-Making-Information, 1979). This was true even though large majorities also favored passing laws that required handgun registration or permits to purchase guns (Wright, Rossi, & Daly, 1983, pp. 235-237). A 1990 national survey likewise found that although most British favored more gun control laws, most people also thought that “if there were more firearms laws” crime would not go down—55 percent thought that the crime rate would stay the same, and 15 percent thought it would increase (Mauser & Margolis, 1992, p. 200). Even among supporters, 46 percent thought that if there were more laws, crime would stay the same or increase (Mauser, 1990)(American, 2004).


Gun control advocates argue that they curb access by criminals, juveniles, and other "high-risk" individuals. They contend that only federal measures can successfully reduce the availability of guns. Some seek broad policy changes such as near-prohibition of non-police handgun ownership or the registration of all firearm owners or firearms.

Instrumental explanations

Starting with the most obvious explanation, some people support gun control because they regard it as an effective tool for reducing crime and violence, while others oppose it because they view it as an ineffective or even counterproductive tool. Past research has supported the notion that those who view gun control as effective are more likely to support it, while also indicating that little of the variation in support can be explained by belief in the effectiveness of ...
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