Firearms, violence and public policy

GVPedia Study Database

Firearms, violence and public policy

Category: Firearm Availability, Firearm Policies, Homicide|Journal: Scientific American|Author: F Zimring|Year: 1991

Studies confirm that, as guns become more available, people are more likely to die during violent crimes. Research also shows that many gun control laws do not significantly diminish the number of guns used in violent crimes. Legislators have agreed to many measures that attempt to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, but these efforts have not reduced violence to a level most Americans can tolerate. The issue of gun control hinges on whether the death rate from violence will subside if people are forced to abandon firearms and choose other weapons. All guns are deadly, but some types of firearms are more harmful than others because they are more likely to be used in crime and violence. In particular, handguns account for one-third of the 120 to 150 million firearms estimated to be owned by civilians. Handguns are used in more than 75 percent of firearm-related homicides and in more than 80 percent of firearm-related robberies. The National Crime Survey indicates that crime victims are less likely to resist robbers who carry guns than those who wield other weapons. In cases where robberies result in injuries, guns are far more deadly than other weapons. The role of firearms in forcible rape, suicide, and accidents is not as clear as the demonstrated role of firearms in homicide and robbery. The effectiveness of gun control legislation is discussed, and dangers associated with widespread access to firearms are examined.

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