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Citizen Gun Ownership and Criminal Deterrence: Theory, Research, and Policy

NCJ Number
Criminology Volume: 25 Issue: 1 Dated: (February 1987) Pages: 63-81
G S Green
Date Published
18 pages
Research on the general and specific crime deterrence associated with citizen gun ownership is reviewed.
Areas of study include (1) the effects of gun laws on gun ownership rates and gun crime rates, (2) perceptions of convicted criminals, and (3) a natural quasi-experiment examining the effect of a large-scale firearms training program for women on rape rates in Orlando, Florida. Because of methodological and interpretational difficulties in the first area of study, it is impossible to draw conclusions about the deterrence effects of gun laws and ownership. Data for criminals provide only slight and indirect evidence of a general and specific deterrent effect of citizen gun ownership. Finally, while the Orlando study found decreased rape following the training program, this may have been attributable to differences in reporting or to crime displacement rather than deterrence. 47 references.