Franklin E. Zimring,
Reflections on Firearms and the Criminal Law, 86
J. Crim. L. & Criminology
Available at: http://scholarship.law.berkeley.edu/facpubs/1634
The article presents the author's opinion on firearms and violence. Firearms and firearms control have never been an important issue in criminal law scholarship, even though firearms are used in many violent crimes and the criminal law is the principal mechanism used to regulate gun ownership and use in the U.S. Concern about violence and its control is the major reason for interest in firearms and firearms control, but what is not so clear is why a focus on violence emerged in the 1990s. The homicide rate in the U.S. doubled betweem 1964 and 1974 and has been fluctuating around the new, higher rates for twenty years. Many criminal law professors of the 1990s now employ the methods of social science and policy analysis with a seriousness that was not widespread thirty years ago. An important question preliminary to any serious interest in gun controls as a method of reducing violence was whether the use of guns rather than other instruments of attack has an independent influence on the death rate from assault and robbery. Guns are an important part of the problem of lethal violence in the U.S. The inertia and social momentum associated with free availability of guns in the U.S. are substantial.