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Weapons, Crime, and Violence in America - A Literature Review and Research Agenda

NCJ Number
J D Wright; P H Rossi; K Daly; E Weber-Burdin
Date Published
606 pages
This literature review presents a comprehensive summary and analysis of the literature related to a broad range of issues covering firearms ownership and use and the relationship of weapons to crime and violence in the United States.
The report discusses data concerning the number of guns in private hands, citing recent trends in weapons ownership. Trends in the use of guns for sport and recreation are analyzed, and public demand for guns as defensive weapons is examined. An analysis of police ownership of guns is also included. Characteristics of private weapon owners are detailed. The relationship between violent crime and the incidence of private ownership of weapons is explored in a chapter focusing on three hypotheses: (1) that weapons in private hands may constitute an important cause of criminal violence, (2) that this may be an important effect of criminal violence, and (3) that this may be an important deterrent to criminal violence. The report reviews and analyzes the data concerning the incidence of crime and violence, the characteristics of victims and offenders, the use of firearms in crime, aspects of criminal motivation, and the means of dealing with weapons offenders in the criminal justice system. Results of public opinion surveys on gun control are also analyzed, and an overview is presented of Federal, State, and local legislation. The effects of weapons control legislation on violent crime are explored. Following the literature review and synthesis, an agenda for recommended topics for future research is presented. Tables, footnotes, and a bibliography of about 200 references are included.