U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Will Gun Control Reduce Crime? (From Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Crime and Criminology, Fifth Edition, P 274-291, 1998, Richard C. Monk, ed. -- See NCJ-183062)

NCJ Number
Josh Sugarmann; James D. Wright
Richard C. Monk
Date Published
18 pages
Several problems with legal handguns are identified, such as unacceptably high rates of suicides with guns, family homicides, and accidents; in contrast, a sociologist views most gun control laws as unfair and ineffective.
The gun control issue represents a paradox in society. On the one hand, many Americans support handgun control. On the other hand, most Americans also feel law-abiding citizens should have the right to possess a gun, at least inside their own homes, and to use it to protect themselves and their families. Traditionally, the debate over gun control has centered largely around the control of, if not the elimination of, Saturday night specials. Gun control is a significant part of the debate on how to prevent crime and violence. The National Rifle Association is correct that handgun controls do little to stop criminals from obtaining handguns. Nonetheless, handguns should be banned because the availability of handguns poses a public health threat. Handguns are the number one weapon for both murder and suicide and are second only to auto accidents as the leading cause of death due to injury. The sociologist acknowledges widespread disagreement over gun control, but he believes that most gun control laws are not effective. He indicates that half the households in the United States own at least one gun, that there are already 200 million guns in circulation in the United States, that most of the 200 million guns are owned for sport and recreational purposes, and that many guns are also owned for self-defense against crime. He also points out that criminals do not get their guns through customary retail channels, that demand creates its own supply, and that guns constitute an important element of American history and culture.