In this “Understanding Gun Violence” essay, Robert Spitzer demystifies a range of perceptions about gun policies and their effects. Spitzer engages a range of laws and regulations—from background checks to waiting periods, and gun storage to concealed carry—and the ways they differ across US states. He finds that more stringent policies correlate with less death and injury from guns. For social scientists interested in the sources and impact of public policy, Spitzer argues that guns are a rich and important zone for future research.
Robert J. Spitzer
Robert J. Spitzer is Distinguished Service Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York College at Cortland. He is the author of 15 books, including five on gun policy: The Right to Bear Arms (ABC-CLIO, 2001), Gun Control: A Documentary and Reference Guide (ABC-CLIO, 2009), and The Gun Debate: An Encyclopedia of Gun Rights (with Glenn Utter; Grey House Publishing, 2016). His two most recent books are The Politics of Gun Control (7th ed., Routledge, 2017), and Guns across America (Oxford University Press, 2015). He is the author of over 600 articles, essays, and papers on many American politics subjects including gun policy. His op-ed articles have appeared in such publications as the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, the Independent (United Kingdom), the Spectator (United Kingdom), Salon, and the Chicago Tribune. Spitzer served as a member of the New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the US Constitution, and has testified before Congress on several occasions. In 2003, he received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.