Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun

Category: Crime, Defensive Gun Use|Journal: Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (full text)|Author: G Kleck, M Gertz|Posted On: January 01,1995

Crime victims used to be ignored by criminologists. Then, beginning slowly in the 1940s and more rapidly in the 1970s, interest in the victim’s role in crime grew. Yet a tendency to treat the victim as either a passive target of another person’s wrongdoing or as a virtual accomplice of the criminal limited this interest. The concept of the victim-precipitated homicide’ highlighted the possibility that victims were not always blameless and passive targets, but that they sometimes initiated or contributed to the escalation of a violent interaction through their own actions, which they often claimed were defensive.

Perhaps due to an unduly narrow focus on lower-class male-on-male violence, scholars- have shown little openness to the possibility that a good deal of “defensive” violence by persons claiming the moral status of a victim may be just that. Thus, many scholars routinely assumed that a large share of violent interactions are “mutual combat” involving two blameworthy parties who each may be regarded as both offender and victim. The notion that much violence is one-sided and that many victims of violence are largely blameless is dismissed as naive.