Behind the passionate debate over gun control and armed crime lurk assumptions about the link between guns and violence. Indeed, the belief that more guns in private hands means higher rates of armed crime underlies most modern gun control legislation. But are these assumptions valid?
Investigating the complex and controversial issue of the real relationship between guns and violence, Joyce Lee Malcolm presents an incisive, thoroughly researched historical study of England, whose strict gun laws and low rates of violent crime are often cited as proof that gun control works. To place the private ownership of guns in context, Malcolm offers a wide-ranging examination of English society from the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century, analyzing changing attitudes toward crime and punishment, the impact of war, economic shifts, and contrasting legal codes on violence. She looks at the level of armed crime in England before its modern restrictive gun legislation, the limitations that gun laws have imposed, and whether those measures have succeeded in reducing the rate of armed crime.
Malcolm also offers a revealing comparison of the experience in England experience with that in the modern United States. Today Americans own some 200 million guns and have seen eight consecutive years of declining violence, while the English--prohibited from carrying weapons and limited in their right to self-defense have suffered a dramatic increase in rates of violent crime.
This timely and thought-provoking book takes a crucial step in illuminating the actual relationship between guns and violence in modern society.
This is an intellectually challenging book which addresses a very important subject. I believe it will be widely read and much debated. Its arguments will be controversial, but the book appears to establish that the case for gun control has yet to be made, and there is a significant and respectable case against gun control.
This book will stimulate renewed discussion and examination of guns in society...Malcolm's book is highly recommended.
In recent decades, much scholarship has been devoted to the history of crime and violence in England from the Middle Ages to the present. Joyce Lee Malcolm's lucid volume is a welcome synthesis of such work and the related factor of gunholding.
Joyce Lee Malcolm brings new evidence that guns reduce violence. Professor Malcolm's carefully researched book is a study of guns and violence in England from the Middle Ages through the present day. When the English were armed to the teeth, violent crime was rare. Now that the English are disarmed, violent crime has exploded. Indeed, crime in England is out of control.
In addition to presenting the big picture with plenty of detail, Ms. Malcolm describes some of the more difficult aspects of this whole debate--changing definitions of crime, unreported crimes, wavering enthusiasm for strict law enforcement. Altogether she makes a forceful case, clearly and fairly. Even the most hardened anti-gunners...will want to read Guns and Violence, if only to see what ammunition their opponents now possess.
It is refreshing to see a study of the complex issues surrounding firearms in the UK played with a straight bat...[Malcolm's] book...breaks new ground in the debate...[and] tackles many of the myths surround the effectiveness of firearms controls in England...Well written and very readable. It also provides ammunition to counter the arguments of those who want to see Britain turned into a gun-free zone. It is also heartening to see a respected academic make a contribution to the firearms debate which is well researched, objective and based on intellectually sustainable conclusions.
Surprisingly, it has taken an American Professor of History to produce a book that looks at the subject from its origins and takes us forward to the present day. The quality and nature of the research is astonishing. Professor Malcolm takes us back to the Middle Ages to study the state of crime when firearms were not widely available. Looking to a vast array of records that have survived, she is able to create the best possible picture of the state of crime...This book convincingly disposes of so many myths about English firearms controls that it will have to be read twice by the doubters amongst remaining gun owners in this country.
The scholar concerned with the comprehensive study of the right to bear arms, the extent of gun ownership, and gun control and its impact on violent crime in a society must certainly read Guns and Violence: The English Experience...Malcolm has written a fine book on which English gun owners would be able to mount a legitimate challenge to England's reaction to the government-defined gun "problem." As for her academic readers, Malcolm has delivered to us a fine historical and contemporary account of England's relationship to guns and whether violence does indeed accompany gun ownership.
- 352 pages
- 0-15/16 x 5-1/8 x 7-15/16 inches
- Harvard University Press
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