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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Gun Control

Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control by Gary Kleck, Don B. Kates (Prometheus Press) In a nation where nearly one-half of all households have firearms, the gun control issue has never been more relevant. While some Americans support controls aimed at disarming only criminals and the irresponsible, others oppose any controls at all, seeing them as steps toward the confiscation of all firearms. Intelligent public debate on what types of controls, if any, are feasible requires some understanding of the results of the best research on guns and violence. In this thought-provoking study of the issue, researchers Gary Kleck and Don B. Kates closely examine the arguments used by advocates and opponents of gun control, identify crucial factual assumptions behind the arguments, and systematically address these assumptions using evidence from the best research available on the subject. Among the topics addressed are media bias in coverage of gun issues, prohibitionist measures for reducing gun violence, the frequency and effectiveness of the defensive use of guns, and a close analysis of the Second Amendment.
Easily understood by both specialists and laypersons, this engaging work will help the reader grasp the many facets of this complex issue.
According to conventional wisdom, accidents with handguns account for a significant number of deaths among children, gun owners endanger themselves more than they ward off potential criminal assailants, and the Second Amendment does not support an individual's right to bear arms. All of these assumptions, and many others, say researchers Gary Kleck and Don B. Kates, are contradicted by the weight of evidence. Hoping to disentangle myth from reality, the authors summarize existing evidence and carefully examine recent state-of-the-art research on guns and violence in accessible, nontechnical language.
Some of the questions the authors consider are: How often do Americans use guns for self-defense? Is the use of guns for self-defense effective? Are crime victims better or worse off if they use a gun for protection? Is the research on guns and violence biased? Is research conducted by medical and public health researchers especially distorted? Is the media coverage of the gun issue biased? Do the leaders of the gun control movement seek in the long run to ban the private ownership of guns entirely, or is this just propaganda designed to encourage gun owners to oppose moderate controls? Does the Second Amendment protect an individual's right to own guns, or is it merely an outdated provision that once protected the right of states to maintain militias?
This well-argued and scrupulously researched volume is essential for any full understanding of the complex gun issue.

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