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Tag: Gun violence

A Fascinating Gun Violence Study

001A gun violence study from a European perspective.

This is an excerpt from a study done about gun violence in the Balkans. I found it largely by accident and it was insightful, enjoyable reading. Most academic writing is barely penetrable. This is lively and interesting. An academic dealing with gun issues, in particular criminal justice, will find this interesting reading if only for the summary of Eastern European gun laws in the appendix. It is a very fine example of social science research.

James Pilant

From the Introduction:

This study is based on the premise that culture is not static but is constantly evolving and changing and it is not
just a product of past traditions but develops and is reinterpreted as society changes. This report will focus on
‘culture’ to mean a society’s particular set of values, norms – both social and legal – and meanings that render
an action or thought acceptable and legitimate. Guns are not separable from the cultural environment in which
they are acting and this means that the prevailing norms and values that render certain gun ownership and use
acceptable must be understood within a geographical, political, historical and socio-economic context. ‘Gun
culture’ lacks an established definition and is subject to continued debate, so this report will take ‘gun culture’
to be the cultural acceptance of gun ownership in situations where the principal motivation or justification for
it is not for utilitarian or economic reasons but because their society has a set of values and norms that deem
it acceptable behaviour. A simple example would be when a man carries a gun, primarily not for hunting or for
protection, but because his ‘culture’ interprets his behaviour as a sign of masculinity and status.

From later in the same study:

Notions of anarchy strongly influenced 18th and 19th century folklore. Tales abound about the revolutionary
movements of the Balkan Christians such as, the formation of rebel groups, dangerous trips to remote towns to
buy guns and ammunition, heroes being chased by the enemy or engaged in long battles. The ending usually
either laments the tragic deaths of the heroes or celebrates victory over the Turkish forces. Typically these
heroic epics are exaggerated tales about the beauty, physical strength, honour and courage of the heroes. They
are about men trying to prove their worthiness to be the leader of a haidouk (rebel) group, showing off their
marksmanship, horse riding and sword fighting skills. People glorified haidouks as saviours who could protect
them from attacks by the Turks or bandits. Stories and songs about the haidouk recount how the groups acquired
weapons, the struggles for leadership and the battles they fought. They often describe haidouk everyday life,
making contrasts between their joyful, romantic daily routines and the cold winters when the haidouks hid their
guns and returned to their homes.

Here is the link to the full pdf file, so you can read the study in its entirety – (To my shock, after careful reading I discovered I was writing about two different studies – the one quoted is list first and the other on domestic violence is afterwards. They are both wonderful. JP)




Here is a link to the web site where I found the study, mappinggunculture.


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Regulate Guns to Make Them Safer?


Regulate Guns to Make Them Safer?

The following quote is from an article in the online magazine, Slate:  We Have the Technology To Make Safer Guns, Too bad gunmakers don’t care., By

Why aren’t gunmakers making safer guns? Because guns are exempt from most of the consumer safety laws that improved the rest of American life. The Consumer Product Safety Commission, which was established in 1972, is charged with looking over thousands of different kinds of products. If you search its database for “guns,” you’ll find lots of recalls of defective air pistols and lead-covered toy guns but nothing about real firearms. That’s because the CPSC is explicitly prohibited from regulating firearms. If you’re injured by a gun, you can’t even go to court. In 2005, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which immunizes gun makers against lawsuits resulting from “misuse” of the products. If they can’t be sued and can’t be regulated, gunmakers have no incentive to make smarter guns. It’s the Pinto story in reverse.

This is certainly a business ethics question. Whatever a person believes about having firearms, there is a separate question of whether or not the manufacturers should be held to the standards we hold other products to. Millions of guns are purchased each year and are an inherently dangerous product. So, why don’t we regulate guns as intensively as toys? What is it about this industry that makes it worthy to be immune to lawsuits while other products are not similarly placed?

I would suggest that gun control, is such a hot topic that rational conversation is difficult and rational action even more difficult. If this is the case, why not shift the discussion to a different plane, product safety?

What if our most recent mass killer had got up that morning,went to the weapon he intended to use (in this case, his mother’s) and found it wouldn’t work? That might have changed everything. And why wouldn’t it work? It would have had a feature on that recognized its owner and no other as being able to fire it, a smart gun. Smart gun technology would not eliminate mass shootings, but since a good number are committed with stolen or borrowed weapons, it would certainly curb them. The smart gun technology is just one of the things that could be done in a regulatory environment in which protecting consumers becomes the focus of the law instead of protecting gunmakers.

James Pilant



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