Guns in America: Examining the Facts

ABC-CLIO. (Contemporary Debates). Aug. 2021. 251p. ISBN 9781440870583. $65. REF
In this work exploring the debate around guns and gun control in the United States, Campbell (emeritus, U.S. Military Acad., West Point, NY; America’s Gun Wars) follows Greenwood’s “Contemporary Debates” format: Q&As, each followed by “the facts” and further reading and grouped into seven topical sections. He carefully sifts through numerous studies, with dispassionate analysis of arguments on both sides of the issue. In most cases, however, Campbell concludes that insufficient empirical evidence renders a reliable judgment impossible. He notes the limits on CDC research into gun control; the legislated deficiency of data from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; and the lack of a national registry of firearms. Though striving for neutrality, he nevertheless cites evidence that existing and proposed gun control measures (point-of-sale and private sale regulations; restrictions on assault-style rifles) address a very small part of the problem, and that existing gun-possession laws are laxly enforced. He cogently outlines inequities like racial disparities in the enforcement of gun laws, mandatory minimum sentencing laws, and the “terrorist watch list.” The book is United States–focused, but Campbell at one point compares international firearm murder rates. Throughout, he spends much more time on violent crime than on gun suicides; the latter arguably deserves more attention (with fatalities almost double the former, and 50 percent of U.S. suicides carried out by firearm). He also neglects to mention 3D-printable or “ghost” guns. In keeping with the series’ goal, Campbell provides facts and counters disinformation but does not offer solutions.
VERDICT Critiquing misleading statistics, Campbell presents a clear and extensive (though not exhaustive) assessment of the evidence around many of the complex issues in the United States’ long relationship with firearms.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing