Do Guns Matter? A Multi-Level Cross-National Examination of Gun Availability on Assault and Robbery Victimization

By Altheimer, Irshad | Western Criminology Review, December 2008 | Go to article overview

Do Guns Matter? A Multi-Level Cross-National Examination of Gun Availability on Assault and Robbery Victimization


Altheimer, Irshad, Western Criminology Review


Abstract. This study examines the relationship between city levels of gun availability and individual assault and robbery victimization. Existing theoretical approaches to guns and crime are integrated with opportunity theory to provide a richer understanding of the dynamic between guns and crime. Data for this analysis are drawn from a sample of 45,913 individuals nested in 39 cities in developing nations. Results of a multi-level, cross-national examination using hierarchical linear modeling indicate that city levels of gun availability influence individual odds of gun crime victimization, but not individual odds of overall crime victimization. This suggests that individuals who live in cities with high levels of gun availability have higher odds of being the victim of gun assault or gun robbery than individuals who live in cities with low levels of gun availability. The results, however, find little support for the proposition that city-level gun availability interacts with individual behavior to influence individual odds of assault or robbery victimization.

Keywords: guns; violence; gun crime; opportunity theory, cross-national

Introduction

The relationship between gun availability and crime is an intensely debated topic. Competing perspectives have emerged that view guns as a cause of crime, a mechanism to reduce crime, or unrelated to crime. As a result, no consensus has materialized on this issue. The existing literature on this issue has yielded contradictory findings (Centerwall, 1991; Cook, 1987; Cook and Ludwig, 2006; Hemenway, 2004; Hoskin, 2001; Kleck, 1979; Kleck, 1984; Kleck and Patterson, 1993; Krug, K. E. Powell, and Dahlberg, 1998; Magaddino and Medoff, 1984; McDowall, 1986; McDowall, 1991; Miller, Azrael, and Hemenway 2002b; Sloan et al., 1988; Sorenson and Berk, 2001; Stolzenberg and D'Alessio, 2000). Further complicating this issue is the fact that the extent and nature of gun effects likely varies across types of crime. Research in this area has also been hampered by data limitations and methodological constraints. As a result, many questions concerning the relationship between gun availability and crime have gone unanswered.

This study aims to address three questions concerning the relationship between gun availability and two particular types of crime, assault and robbery, that have not yet been explored. First, to what extent does gun availability operate at the macro-level (specifically, in cities) to influence individual assault and robbery victimization? Existing macro-level studies have focused on the net effects of levels of gun availability on rates of crime (Hemenway, 2004; Hoskin, 2001; Kleck, 1979; Krug, Powell, and Dahlberg, 1998; McDowall, 1991; Miller, Azrael, and Hemenway, 2002a; Sloan et al., 1988; Sorenson and Berk, 2001). Significant results from these studies imply that individuals living in areas with high levels of gun availability will have a higher risk of violent gun crime victimization. This is because a larger number of residents are likely to be armed in cities with high levels of gun availability than in cities with lower levels of gun availability. Despite this assumption, the failure to explicitly examine the effects of gun availability on individual victimization raises the question of whether gun availability influences individual victimization after controlling for individual behavior. One reason for the dearth of gun research examining this issue is the fact that multi-level theoretical explanations of the relationship between gun availability and individual victimization have not yet been developed. It is proposed here that the foundation for such research has been laid by previous studies that have examined the contextual factors that influence individual victimization (Garafolo, 1987; Lee, 2000; Meithe and McDowall, 1993; Sampson and Wooldredge, 1987; Smith and Jarjoura, 1989). In an attempt to increase criminological understanding of how gun availability influences individual victimization, this study integrates existing theory on guns and crime with opportunity theory (Cohen and Felson, 1979; Hindelang, Gottfredson, and Garafolo, 1978)

Second, do city rates of gun availability interact with individual risk factors to influence individual assault and robbery victimization? …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Do Guns Matter? A Multi-Level Cross-National Examination of Gun Availability on Assault and Robbery Victimization
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.