skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 93403 Find in a Library
Title: Assumption of Gun Control (From Handgun Control Legislation Hearings, P 339-359, 1982 - See NCJ-93399)
Author(s): G Kleck; D Bordua
Date Published: 1982
Page Count: 21
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This critical evaluation of five assumptions underlying arguments in favor of restrictions on the ownership of firearms concludes that more thorough and rational research into the potential consequences of gun control is needed.
Abstract: The first assumption is that guns are five times deadlier than weapons likely to be substituted for them in assaults where guns are not available. However, many policies are aimed at handgun control, and the most logical substitute for this weapon is a rifle or shotgun rather than a knife. It is also debatable just how much of the greater deadliness of firearms used in assault is due to the weapons' technical characteristics or differences in the intention and intensity of individuals who use such weapons. Another common assumption implies that the presence of firearms encourages aggression. Findings regarding this are mixed, but several studies have suggested that guns are as likely to inhibit assaults as to incite crime. The third assumption is that the demand for guns is highly elastic, and therefore people will do without them if they are expensive and difficult to obtain. Surveys show that a large proportion of people own guns for protection or self-defense, and that laws restricting gun ownership would meet with widespread resistance and a low rate of compliance. It is among violence-prone people that demand for guns is most inelastic, and they would be most likely to violate laws or look for substitutes. Gun control advocates argue that gun ownership does not actually protect against victimization. While victims seldom have the chance to use a gun, studies have shown that burglars may be deterred by the possibility of confronting an armed victim and that assaults are less likely to be completed and result in fewer injuries when the victim used a weapon. The assumption that everyone is a potential killer because of the emotional, unpredictable nature of homicide underlies a proposed ban on all guns. Research evidence shows that the majority of homicide arrestees have prior arrest records and that felony killings account for an increasingly large portion of U.S. homicides. Therefore, legislation aimed at persons with prior felony convictions might have some potential for reducing homicides. Over 50 references are included.
Index Term(s): Citizen gun ownership; Gun Control; Gun control legislation; Handguns; Homicide
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.