A New Book That Can Get You Up To Speed On The Gun Violence Debate.

Thomas Gabor is an American-trained criminologist who taught and researched criminal justice for 30 years in Canada and has now settled in Florida where he and his wife run a consulting business specializing in ‘crime, justice and social research services and advice to government agencies, businesses, law enforcement and correctional agencies.’ To burnish his already-impressive credentials as an expert in these fields he has just published a book, Confronting Gun Violence in America which, according to the promotional announcement, ‘suggests a bold national strategy to confront gun violence.’  And since the gun violence prevention community (GVP) is now faced with figuring out a strategy to reduce gun violence in the Age of Trump, this book couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time.

gabor           Unfortunately, the author admits that he has no idea whether his bold national strategy can ever be implemented either in whole or in parts (p. 279), which renders the effectiveness of his argument somewhat more apparent than real. Because if Dr. Gabor has written this book to frame his analysis of the GVP debate within a context of workable solutions to the problem, then it really doesn’t move the argument forward to suggest a ‘bold national strategy’ without attempting to figure out whether any aspect of that strategy could possibly be implemented or not.  And the truth is there’s not a single piece of Dr. Gabor’s bold strategy which hasn’t been suggested by other experts and researchers in the GVP field.  So what does this book bring to the GVP discussion which hasn’t been brought to this discussion before?

What this book does bring is a well-balanced survey of research on just about every aspect of the gun violence debate, including such issues as the value of gun ownership for personal defense, whether access to guns increases the likelihood of suicide and other intentional deaths, the relationship between the existence or absence of gun laws and rates of gun violence in different states, how and why public opinion about gun violence changes over time, and just about every other relevant topic which is germane to the current gun violence debate.  The book references somewhere around 100 peer-reviewed, published research papers, there’s a mention of most of the important advocacy and research efforts that have appeared online, and best of all, the arguments on both sides for each topic are presented in concise and readable ways.  In other words, the book is a solid resource that can be used to understand the state of GVP knowledge and advocacy at the present time.

There’s only one little problem with Professor Gabor’s approach to the issue of gun violence, and this is not a criticism of what he has done, but rather a comment on the state of GVP awareness as a whole.  There wouldn’t be any reason to publish a book like this or to even need a gun violence prevention advocacy movement if it weren’t for the fact that a majority of Americans do not seem to feel that gun violence is a serious problem at all.  Or if they do believe it is a serious issue they certainly also believe that nothing should be done to mitigate the problem if whatever is proposed might make it more difficult for any law-abiding American to get his or her hands on a gun.  The power of Gun-nut Nation isn’t simply a result of the determination of its members to maintain and enlarge their 2-Amendment ‘rights.’  It’s much more a reflection of the lack of concern manifested by most Americans about the 120,000 deaths and injuries attributed to gun violence each and every year.

Those who take the trouble to read and study this valuable book will be drawn from a segment of the population whose minds about the abhorrence of gun violence have already been made up. But what about everyone else?  How to reach all those people with an effective and persuasive argument for reducing gun violence is a challenge yet to be met.

10 thoughts on “A New Book That Can Get You Up To Speed On The Gun Violence Debate.

  1. Sounds like a good book, Mike.

    I’m coming up on my term limits for our county transportation commission, which I chair. We spent most of last night’s meeting discussing citizen petitions to slow down speeding motorists, including at two locations, one in front of an elementary school and one next to a city park. There are certain parallels here, i.e., the public, unless it is directly confronted with dangerous traffic behavior (as these neighborhoods are–we did speed studies in response to the petitions), doesn’t seem to think that traffic violence is a problem and two, there are strong sources of resistance to any attempts to implement safety controls consistent with Vision Zero (an analogy to GVP) on our streets.

    I’m sick and tired of the argument that guns are for killing and cars are for transportation. Either can be misused and when we allow, via law or custom, for dangerous behavior, we will reap the fruits. Driving to work doesn’t mean one has to drive at 35-40 mph in a residential area (a speed that almost guarantees a pedestrian hit by a car will be critically injured or killed) any more than gun ownership means Constitutional Carry.

  2. Maybe a reason that so many people in the US are not especially motivated in regard to stricter, more punitive, gun control is that they live in places with virtually no gun crime despite an abundance of guns around. I mean, the metropolitan areas with consistently the lowest murder rates in the whole US are both in TEXAS. (Plano and Austin). Suicide is a different matter. Yes, it is. Any kind of gun is a potential suicide gun. One would really have to go at all gun ownership to move that needle very much. And the Brits manage a comparable suicide rate as the US with many fewer guns around. Or the Japanese a much higher rate with no guns at all. Apparently, stepping the front of a train is quite deadly and only takes a fleeting moment of intent to proceed irreversibly.

    You have said that modern sporting rifles are evil because they are designed solely ” to kill as many people as quickly as possible.” What is an M1 carbine with a 30 round mag? The US government sold millions of them to civilians no questions asked, not so long ago. They are kinda cute so no one ever freaked about them, I guess – not all black and scary looking. They have never been much associated with bad things happening. I seeing remember adds in the 40 – 60 dollar range. They were not a civilianized version of a military design (like an AR15) They were literally straight off the battlefield.
    And, what was an old Winchester levergun with 15 rounds in the tube designed to be good at ? Whose heart is pure?

  3. Mike, I really appreciate your positive review of my book. It is a fair review; however, I would like to clarify one point and respectfully disagree on a second observation you made. First, I stated that I anticipated that some of the remedies proposed in the book would face the criticism that they would have little chance of being adopted. However, many of the remedies have either been tried (assault weapons ban) or can be implemented (expanded background checks, community-building initiatives, enhanced initiatives to ensure domestic abusers do not have access to guns). Second, the criticism that all the solutions have already been proposed is not accurate. The national gun licensing system proposed was based on my unique analysis of the systems in a number of countries, including Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, and Italy. The specific recommendations build upon the systems in those countries. My proposals are also based on the most recent evidence available.

    • Assault weapon ban made little difference in homicide rate given how rarely these scary looking weapons are used in crimes. Likewise, I am not convinced of the feasibility of a gun licensing system for the same reason a printing press licensing systemix problematic–at least as long as Heller/McDonald are the law of the land.

      Adam Winkler, in his Heller’s Catch-22 essay, complained that there was never a gun control law that the left would not support, even if it was worthless, and there was never a gun law the NRA and GOA would support, even if it would work. I think we are still there. Especially as parts of the country with low crime rates are being asked to accept laws aimed at high crime areas. Rarely do we ask for cooperation but instead, try to ram stuff down people’s throats.

      Community building is hard for either side to oppose.

      • Khal, I appreciate your comment. I do not consider myself on the left or right. My concern is injury control, not gun control for its own sake. It just seems to me that countries and states that have a licensing system and do a better job of vetting those with access to firearms tend to quite consistently have lower gun-related mortality rates. I don’t understand why careful screening and good child access prevention practices are so onerous to some gun owners when so much is at stake.

      • Hi, Thomas. How would you propose a licensing and vetting procedure that would survive Heller/McDonald?

        Child access prevention or child firearms education is/are a good idea and don’t run into judicial challenges. Unless, of course, they are fig leaves for something else.

      • Hi Khal, I’m glad we are having this conversation. Maybe we can take it on the road and show people that there can be civil discourse even in such a contentious area. I’m a big believer that common ground can be found among the vast majority of the population. I’ve personally seen it.

        No fig leaves for me or Trojan Horses. That’s not my approach. To answer your question–and I’m not a constitutional expert–a variety of licensing systems already exist in about a dozen states and many states have a more explicit recognition of an individual’s right to bear arms than the 2nd Amendment. Thus, depending on the composition of the higher courts, it would certainly be possible that a carefully crafted licensing system would withstand challenges. It is worth trying as the gun lobby is always telling us that criminals are the problem. If that is the case, we ought to do the best job we can to close loopholes and make sure that the violent and unstable do not get their hands on lethal weapons.



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