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Guns and Fear: A One-Way Street?

NCJ Number
Crime and Delinquency Volume: 59 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2013 Pages: 271-291
Will Hauser; Gary Kleck
Date Published
March 2013
21 pages
This study examined the fear of crime on gun ownership.
Surveys show that more than one half of gun owners report owning their firearm for self-protection. Although research has examined the effect of fear of crime on gun ownership, the issue of reciprocity and temporal order has been largely ignored. Furthermore, the effect of firearm acquisition and relinquishment on fear has not been evaluated empirically. The authors hypothesize that the relationship between fear and gun ownership is reciprocal. As James Wright and Peter Rossi noted, it may be that "the initially most fearful may arm themselves and then feel psychologically safer because of it." Using two-wave panel data, the authors found, as expected, that higher fear among non-owners encourages them to become gun owners, but lower fear among gun owners does not encourage gun relinquishment. The authors also found that gun acquisition does not reduce fear, but relinquishment increases fear, suggesting the relationship between guns and fear may be asymmetrical. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.