Overview of Negative Outcomes with Guns for Sociology of Guns Seminar (Fall 2020)

Although my scholarship and teaching on the sociology of guns highlights the non-criminological and epidemiological aspects of guns in society, I do not entirely ignore negative outcomes with guns.

In my Sociology of Guns seminar, I typically allocate 2 or 3 of the modules to gun injury, suicide, and homicide. Teaching on-line this semester, I provided the students with an overview of negative outcomes with guns asynchronously (via a narrated PowerPoint turned into a YouTube video) so we would have more time in our on-line (Zoom) synchronous class session to delve into the issues more deeply.

For this semester’s module on suicide, I am having the students think about the challenge of isolating firearms as a causal factor in suicide, exploring ecological and case-control designs. I discuss work by Matthew Miller and his colleagues on suicide proclivity, and have them read Gary Kleck’s critique of existing scholarship (in the edited collection Gun Studies) and an interesting article I recently found on “The Association Between Firing a Gun and Various Aspects of Suicide Risk.”

This semester, two representatives from Walk the Talk America (WTTA) will join our Zoom class, the founder Michael Soldini and trustee Rob Pincus. WTTA is working to bridge the gap between mental health professionals and gun owners/sellers on an issue of significant concern to all.

Although in class I highlight scholarship on suicide and homicide, as The Tactical Professor Claude Werner has documented in “Serious Mistakes Gunowners Make,” negative outcomes with guns go far beyond that, as seen from his table of contents below.

When we turn to non-fatal gunshot wounds in the following module, I will lean heavily on work by Jooyoung Lee. For insight into gun homicide, I am very impressed by the work of Andrew Papachristos and his colleagues doing network analysis.

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4 thoughts on “Overview of Negative Outcomes with Guns for Sociology of Guns Seminar (Fall 2020)

  1. One of the things that people bring up is the number of suicides by firearm. I have found in the past that it is useful to compare Canada and the US in terms of rates. And how the methods changed over time (as Canada changed their gun laws from what were very similar to ours in the 1940s) to what they have today.

    The last time I looked, which was about 8 or 9 years ago, Canada and the US had fairly similar rates of suicide. What differed were the methods used. Rope/hanging was the predominant method in Canada. Reducing firearm ownership did not reduce suicide, it only changed the means people had at their disposal, and so changed the methods employed.

    Which suggests that guns don’t cause suicide, any more than rope causes suicide.

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