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41 J. Res. Crime & Delinquency 3 (2004)

handle is hein.journals/jrcd41 and id is 1 raw text is: 
















                  MEASURES OF GUN OWNERSHIP

                         LEVELS FOR MACRO-LEVEL

               CRIME AND VIOLENCE RESEARCH

                                                GARY KLECK



 Valid measures of macro-level gun levels are essential to assessing the impact of gun
 levels on crime and violence rates, yet almost all prior research on this topic uses
 proxies that are either invalid or whose validity has been assumed rather than demon-
 strated. The present study uses city, state, cross-national, and time series data to
 assess the criterion validity of over two dozen gun indicators. The criterion measures
 used are primarily direct survey measures of household gun prevalence. The results
 indicate that (1) most measures used in past research have poor validity, making past
findings uninterpretable, (2) the best measure for cross-sectional research is the per-
centage of suicides committed with guns, and (3) there are no known measures that
are valid indicators of trends in gun levels, making credible longitudinal research on
the subject impossible at present.

Keywords:  guns; violence; measurement


   Macro-level research on the possible links between guns and violence is
essential because there is no other way to estimate the net effects of societal
or community  gun  levels on crime or violence rates. Studies that attempt to
link the gun ownership of individuals to their experiences as victims (e.g.
Kellermann  et al. 1993) do not effectively determine how an individual's risk
of victimization is affected by gun ownership of other people, especially
those not living in the gun owner's own  household. Likewise, studies of
crime incidents (e.g., Kleck and Delone 1993) can address the effects of ac-
tual offensive gun use by offenders and defensive gun use by victims on the
outcome  of the incident (e.g., injury to the victim), but cannot assess whether
gun  ownership  among  potential victims deters criminals from attempting
crimes in the first place, or whether gun ownership encourages offenders to
seek hostile contact with victims in the first place. If gun ownership by pro-
spective victims has deterrent or other violence-reducing effects, this effect


   A previous version of this article was presented at the annual meetings of the American Soci-
ety of Criminology in Atlanta, Georgia, November 7-10, 2001.
JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN CRIME AND DELINQUENCY, Vol. 41 No. 1, February 2004 3-36
DOI: 10.1177/0022427803256229
0 2004 Sage Publications
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