PJ Verrecchia is a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at York College of Pennsylvania. A former juvenile probation officer in Chester County, Pennsylvania, his research interests include terrorism, gun control, juvenile justice, gender issues in criminal justice, and pedagogy.
Gun control is one of the most debated issues in America, and gun control arguments are a conflict over ideas, values, perceptions, and perhaps most of all the role of government. Proponents of gun control argue that more guns lead to more gun violence and higher crime rates, and opponents of gun control argue that guns are necessary for self-protection and deter would be criminals from committing crime.
Over 3,000 participants completed a national survey. To examine fear of crime (independent variable), an index was created from five Likert scale statements. Another index was created to measure attitude toward gun control, also from five Likert scale statements.
We ran a logistic regression model to see if fear of crime would have an effect on attitude towards gun control with the inclusion of control variables. Our model revealed that gun owners who were male, politically conservative and older were less in favor of gun control. Fear of crime did not have an effect on attitude towards gun control.
In examining the statements we used to create the Gun Control Index, we found that what might be called “common sense” gun control measures had more support than what might be referred to as “more radical” gun control measures. Over 60% of our sample supported requiring that all guns be registered, requiring firearm owners to receive safety training, and that gun owners be licensed. However, banning all firearms was opposed by more than 70% of our respondents.