Can Gun Control Work?

Overview


Few schisms in American life run as deep or as wide as the divide between gun rights and gun control advocates. Awash in sound and symbol, the gun regulation debate has largely been defined by forceful rhetoric rather than substantive action. Politicians shroud themselves in talk of individual rights or public safety while lobbyists on both sides make doom-and-gloom pronouncements on the consequences of potential shifts in the status quo.
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Overview


Few schisms in American life run as deep or as wide as the divide between gun rights and gun control advocates. Awash in sound and symbol, the gun regulation debate has largely been defined by forceful rhetoric rather than substantive action. Politicians shroud themselves in talk of individual rights or public safety while lobbyists on both sides make doom-and-gloom pronouncements on the consequences of potential shifts in the status quo.
In America today there are between 250 and 300 million firearms in private hands, amounting to one weapon for every American. Two in five American homes house guns. On the one hand, most gun owners are law-abiding citizens who believe they have a constitutional right to bear arms. On the other, a great many people believe gun control to be our best chance at reducing violent crime. While few--whether gun owner or anti-gun advocate--dispute the need to keep guns out of the wrong hands, the most important question has too often been dodged: What gun control options does the most heavily armed democracy in the world have? Can gun control really work?
The last decade has seen several watersheds in the debate, none more important than the 1993 Brady Bill. That bill, James B. Jacobs argues, was the culmination of a strategy in place since the 1930s to permit widespread private ownership of guns while curtailing illegal use. But where do we go from here? While the Brady background check is easily circumvented, any further attempts to extend gun control--for instance, through comprehensive licensing of all gun owners and registration of all guns--would pose monumental administrative burdens. Jacobs moves beyond easy slogans and broad-brush ideology to examine the on-the-ground practicalities of gun control, from mandatory safety locks to outright prohibition and disarmament. Casting aside ideology and abstractions, he cautions against the belief that there exists some gun control solution which, had we the political will to seize it, would substantially reduce violent crime.
In Can Gun Control Work?, James B. Jacobs, one of our most fearless commentators on intractable social problems, has given us the most sober and even-handed assessment of whether gun control can really be made to work.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[a] clear-eyed analytical approach of a first rate legal scholar....Jacobs skillfully catalogues the vast array of legislative initiatives already adopted, as well as the large number of potential regulatory approaches to gun violence....[and] usefully underscores how difficult it would be to overcome all the obstacles--constitutional, political and practical--to the effective regulation of guns in a society that is not fully committed to that goal."-- The American Prospect

" If close attention to facts, reason, and common sense has any claim on the public's thinking, this book may well break the polarized debate over gun control and make it possible to settle on a sensible public policy regarding guns, gun safety and the reduction of gun violence. This is a "must read" for anyone concerned about the debate over gun control. I Jan Dizard, Amherst College, co-editor of Gun in America

Booknews
Jacobs (director, Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York U.) discusses the practical aspects of gun control, from mandatory safety locks to prohibition and disarmament. In the 13 chapters he studies the nature of the gun problem, the history of U.S. gun controls, and the barriers to more controls; the Brady law; and possible policy options for the future. He argues that personal violence is a complicated issue and that gun controls are at best a marginally effective remedy. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

The author of numerous acclaimed books, including Drunk Driving and Hate Crimes, which the New York Times Book Review has described as "an essential guide," James B. Jacobs is Warren E. Burger Professor of Law and Director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University.

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Table of Contents

1 Dissecting the gun problem 3
2 Existing gun controls 19
3 Impediments to more gun controls 37
4 The politics of the Brady law 61
5 What the Brady law says 77
6 Holes in the Brady law 99
7 Evaluating the Brady law 111
8 Closing the gun show and secondary market loophole 123
9 Comprehensive licensing and registration 137
10 Prohibition and disarmament 153
11 Other gun control stategies 171
12 Creating gun-free public spaces 197
13 Conclusion : the "problem" reconsidered 213
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