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Shots in the Dark: The Policy, Politics, and Symbolism of Gun Control

NCJ Number
William J. Vizzard
Date Published
270 pages
This book offers insight, understanding, and perspective on guns and gun control. It examines the history of the national gun control legislation policy debate.
This book discusses three interrelated theoretical arguments on guns and gun control. The first is that comprehensive gun control has seldom, if ever, fully accessed the public agenda. The second is that the inability to resolve the public agenda conflict has produced policy proposals that lack rationality and consistency, and that political expediency has shaped policy that lacks and presents significant implementation problems. Lastly, it is argued that both advocates and critics of gun control have attributed to policy deadlock and irrational policy outcomes. The book offers an alternative conceptualization of gun regulations to enhance efficiency in identifying and controlling persons responsible for violent offenses, incarcerating career offenders, and disrupting the illegal firearm markets. The book is organized into three sections: The first one addresses the current status of gun control and attempts to provide background information to understand the remaining two sections. The emphasis is on national rather than State and local gun control policy and a move from conceptual and theoretical issues of gun control to specific and concrete. The second section provides a narrative of the evolution of gun policy. The 1920's and 1930's saw a period of some activity in the field of firearm regulations, the next two decades did not. The Gun Control Act of 1968 formed a legal core of national gun policy in the United States. The next round of activity in gun control would not come until the violent crime rate began a rapid ascent with the baby boom generation. The final section addresses options and trends for the future and closes with an examination of what gun control conveys about the policy process. The issues addressed cover firearm licensing and registration and market regulations that tighten control on the primary markets (career criminals). Gun control illustrates a dilemma present in the American policy process. Without change in the political environment, the gun control issue will remain indefinitely stalemated. Notes and Bibliography