Sociology of Guns Module 9: Criminal Homicide and Injury

I include the modifier “criminal” here, because descriptively homicide means causing the death of another person. This would include legally justifiable killing (e.g., in self-defense). Some who study “gun violence” actually do not distinguish between justifiable homicide and criminal homicide, but I think that is an important starting point.

It is also important to recognize that the majority of people who are criminal gunshot victims survive. Hence the gun trainer adage that “aggravated assault is just a failed homicide.”

The guiding idea of this module (as with the previous module on suicide and accidental gun injury) is that these negative outcomes with firearms are not randomly distributed through the population. Understanding the people and places where they cluster is essential to a sociological perspective on the issue.

Because this is the primary area of research on guns in the academy today, the recommended reading list is massive for this module.

Network of high-risk individuals from “Social Networks and the Risk of Gunshot Injury” by Papachristos, Braga, and Hureau (2012)
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Sociology of Guns Module 8: Gun Injuries, Suicide, Rights and Responsibilities

With Module 8 the course shifts its attention to what could generally be called negative outcomes with firearms: injury and death, both suicide (Module 8) and homicide (Module 9), as well as issues surrounding police use of force (Module 10).

I am particularly interested in ways in which those involved in gun culture can play a role in reducing negative outcomes with guns. Initiatives like the Gun Shop Project and Walk the Talk America (WTTA) provide some models. I am pleased for the fourth consecutive year to welcome to class as a guest speaker gun trainer Rob Pincus, a board member of WTTA and co-founder (with Dan Gross, formerly of Brady) of the Center for Gun Rights and Responsibilities.

Walk the Talk America (WTTA) table at 2019 SHOT Show. Photo by David Yamane
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