Statement of the Problem
The overall purpose of this study is to determine whether gun control is based on availability. Research studies and existing literature have laid more emphasis on the determining the relationship between gun control and crime rates in the United States, leaving a gap that requires the evaluation of the effectiveness of the gun control policies in meeting the objectives behind gun control.
Gun control is based on availability
- To determine the correlation between gun control and crime rates.
- To determine the correlation between gun control and availability of guns
Dependent variables: What constitutes gun control; unified gun laws throughout the United States, mandatory training and education for guns being purchased, regulating gun sales by licensed dealers and requires all gun owners to maintain license for all guns and ammunition.
Independent variables: Different gun laws throughout the U.S. in different states, lack of training and education people have that purchase and own guns, ability to purchase guns from an unlicensed gun dealer and stricter penalties for people who possess unlicensed guns and ammunition.
Gun control in the United States is a contentious subject that has diverse viewpoints regarding its effectiveness in reducing the rates of violent crime. Lott (2000) defines gun control as the strategies and efforts aimed at limiting the ownership, production, trading, shipping and use of guns and associated weapons by by private citizens. A significant body of research has been conducted in order to evaluate the relationhip that exists between gun ownership and crimes that are gun related (Levitt, 2004). The studies have reported different findings leaving a significant void that requires to effectively determine the factors that lead to the crimes committed under gun-ownership. In a study conducted by Killias Martin in 23 nations, it was established that there is a positive relationship between ownership of guns and crimes that are gun related such as homicide and suicide (Killias, 2001). The research also established that there were relatively lesser correlation between ownership of guns and the total rates of homicidal crimes. A similar study conducted by Killias Martin during 2001 established that there was a strong correlation that existed between the sum of the homicide rates that are related to guns among women and other assaults directed at women using guns. However, this was not case for the crimes that are committed against men. An interesting finding of the study is that there were no significant correlations with regard to the sum of the homicide rates observed during the study (Jacobs, 2002). This left a void regarding the possibility of substitution effects, and that the research represents a correlation and not a case of casulity. An inference that can be reached from this study is that availability of guns has the potential of imposing more violence. The study could also reflect that increased rates of violence are likely to impose higher instances of gun ownership for the main purposes of self defense and any other individual independent cause (Kleck D. , 2003).
Jacobs (2002) notes that gun control laws usually regulate the kinds of firearms that can be bought and offer criteria for individuals who desire to own a gun and provide guidelines regarding the storage and use of guns. In an ideal society where the gun control laws are observed, it can be argued that less availability and ownership of guns translates to reduced crime rates. Jacob (2002) further notes that there is a two-step connection that exists between gun control and the rates of violent crime in a given society, which includes the impact that gun control imposes on the availability of guns and the impacts that availability of guns imposes on the rates of crime committed. This means that the nature of the influences is two-fold (Kleck , 2004a). On the other hand, high rates of violent crimes that are gun-related serves to justify the use of more strict gun control policies and laws. A casual effect can be deduced from the effectiveness of the gun conrol policies and the level of crime rates (Killias, 2001). A precise correlation is difficult to establish because of the changing relationship between gun control and the rates of crime over time. The area of concern is whether the gun control laws are effective in restricting accesibility and ownership of guns by the public. Lee (2002) argues that crime rates witnessed during the early 1990s could have triggered the adoption of more strict gun control policies and laws, which in turn could have played a significant role in reducing the crime rates during the later 1990s. This twin relationship between gun control and rates of crime makes it difficult to ascertain the effectiveness of the gun control policies in restricting access to guns by the public (Kleck, 2003b).
Levitt (2004) notes that research studies that have attempted to evaluate the impacts of gun control on the rates of crime are constrained by two significant problems. First, it is difficult to come up with variables that can be used to measure gun control and determining the practical complement to gun control. Gun control is awide concept that entails a diverse range of ideas including laws that prohibit the ownership of specific kinds of firearms and the addition of gun locks to each gun that has been sold. It is arguably evident that these variables signify legislative acts that are discrete and have been enacted on different times by different administration (Kleck D. , 2003). Therefore, how does this elements of gun control interact to regulate the level of availability of guns to the public? Secondly, there is an underlying complexity regarding the variables that determine the effectiveness of gun control laws established at state levels. Levitt, (2004) maintains that the effectiveness of gun control policies extends beyond their enactment to onclude the extent to which they are enforced.
A significant flaw in the early research studies to assess the pros and cons of gun control is the failure to incorporate the pertinent variable for gun control. For instance, Halbrook, (2000) infers a conclusion basing on the zero-order correlation that is positive between ownership of firewarns and gun-related violence to conclude that gun control helps in the reduction of rates of violent crimes. Ommited variables are likely to ompose misguided conclusions on the relationship that exists between gun control, availability and gun-related violent crimes. Monroe (2008) cites Seitz (1972) as a perfect example of an empirical research that suffered from the costs of ommitting important variables, the study used the state observations to conclude that there was a correlation coefficient of 0.98 between homicides that are gun related and the total homicides. An inference that Seitz makes is that a reduction in the availability of guns in the public will serve to reduce the ammount of homicides. The conclusion does not take into consideration the efficiency of the gun control laws in infleuncing the level of guns availability in the public. Jacobs (2002) states that the correlation between the two variables of homicides is not a new finding on grounds that gun-related homicides comprise of at least 60 % of the total homicides committed in the United States. Pertinent variables that were ommitted in this studies are the social and economic variables that are bound to affect the the accessibility of guns and their influence on homicide.
Studies conducted during the 1970s and 1980s that took into consideration control for social and economic measures established that there is evidence to conclude that gun control is effective in the reduction of the rates of violent crimes. The studies used regression analysis, observation of state data and a vactor analysis of the social and economic variables to conclude that gun control policies do not impose significant influences in reducing the rates of violent crime that extends beyond the crimes that can be associated to social and economic conditions (Squires, 2000). Besides, controlling for social factors during the studies implied that the gun control laws had a relatively less impact in reducing violent crimes. Recent studies have established that gun ownership exhibits a strong correlation with gun related homicides and not the extent of the strictness of the gun control laws. This leaves the gap that requires the evaluation of the effectivenss of the gun control laws in limiting availability and ownership of guns by the public. Studies to determine the effectiveness of gun control laws was conducted by Kwon et al (1997) with the principal objective of determining the efficacy of the gun control policies adopted by the various states. Kwon et al (1997) concludes that gun control policies have a little influence in reducing the rates of gun related homicides although the evidence gathered during the study is weak. According to the study, 3 deaths out of 100000 populations are evaded when the kinds of firearms included in the study are deployed. Monroe (2008) notes that this research has significant flaws including the ommission of variables, interpretation of the findings and errors relating to the specification of models.
Presently, there is no standpoint with regard to the studies that use state data. Studies that rely on state data to conclude tha gun control helps in reducing the rates of violent crime are considerd to be significantly inconsistent. On the contrary, while a significant number of studies that rely on state data have not reported a restraint impact associated with gun control, there is a failure to determine the efficacy of the gun control laws in imposing a deterrent impact on the accessibility, availability and ownership of guns, which is a principal area of focus for this current study.
Research method is determined by the structure of the research question and the research context. Social research aims at providing an explanation for current state of affairs using predetermined variables. Social research significantly depends on probability; therefore, providing an explanation why a given variable plays a significant role in determining the outcome is vital. This implies that it is imperative for the social research to put more emphasis on the findings, coupled with a correlation to the available theoretical frameworks to explain the effectiveness of gun control in restricting availability and ownership of guns. When carrying out a social research, the researcher can choose between qualitative and quantitative approaches. Quantitative approach entails the compilation and breakdown of experimental data and statistics to result to infer a conclusion; it involves collecting data through investigative units such as questionnaires. Qualitative approach on the other hand utilizes analysis and evaluation of qualitative data through interviews and observation to reach a conclusion. This research requires both the analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data that will be collected from the citizens and state departments regarding the effectiveness of gun control laws, with the data acquisition methods incorporating both primary and secondary sources.This is because the data collected was in form of questionnaires and interviews, which are both quantitative and qualitative respectively.
The deductive approach was used since the research began by description of concepts such as the variables affecting the effectiveness of gun control, after which it will involve an analysis of empirical evidence. Therefore, a deductive approach was used because the research study commences with a research hypothesis and terminates with empirical measurement, analysis and evaluation of research findings.
The research was conducted across the state of New Jersey among the local law enforcement personnel and the public. The sampling approach that was employed was quota sampling and convenience sampling. Quota sampling refers to a situation whereby the researcher chooses a proportion of the elements that was investigated during the study. The partition can be based on different categories such as gender, age, lifestyle and ethnicity. The researcher can then decide which categories to use in the proportion of the study elements depending on the ease of access. The quotas that were chosen for this research were categorised into three distinct groups: ≤ 30, 31-40, and ≥ 41. A further classification was based on gender and the social statuses of the citizens of New Jersey.
Proposed data collection methods and variables
Data collection is a significant requirement for the success of any social research since it determines the success of the research in terms of facilitating the inference of conclusions. This implies that a social research should significantly rely on statistical data since it deploys a probabilistic approach to offer a rational explanation to the ways things are currently in the social context. Data consists of two types: primary data that is collected by the researcher and secondary data that has been collected by other researchers (Ritchie & Lewis, 2003). For the purpose of confirmation of the social theoretical models, this social research will utilize both secondary and primary data sources.
Primary research involves the data acquisition based on first-hand information by the researcher (Fisher, 2007). This will be carried out using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, which will be based on a one-on-one approach with the respondent. Primary data sources serves as an effective method of carrying out a research because the information gathered is usually raw and has not been manipulated, this in turn increases the accuracy of the research study (Ruane, 2005). In addition, the primary data collected can be used to match against the secondary sources for accuracy purposes (Maxfield & Babbie, 2009). The various ways of gathering primary data that were used during the research include questionnaires and interviews.
Ruane (2005) defines questionnaire as “self-contained, self-administered tool for asking questions”. The use of questionnaire is ideal since it facilitates the acquisition enormous amounts of data within a restricted period. A structured question can be either in form of multiple choices, dichotomous questions or scales. Dichotomous questions are designed to collect the fundamental data from respondents such as Male or Female, age and other basic personal information (Maxwell, 1996). Dichotomous questions will save time required for the respondents to answer the questions. They were in a simple format involving Yes or No multiple-choice questions. This research aims at collecting approximately 100 questionnaires the respondents within the state of New Jersey.
Data analysis is an essential phase in social research because they are used to infer conclusions. The research findings will provide a framework for agreement or refute of the already formulated hypothesis. It is therefore important that the data collected should be as accurate as possible to facilitate the process of data analysis. The data collected during the research will entail both qualitative and quantitative data. This implies that both inferential and descriptive statistics was used to arrive at the conclusion (Maxfield & Babbie, 2009). Descriptive statistics in a social research usually serve to summarize and describe data with quantities such as percentage, proportion, mean, mode, mode and other descriptive statistical quantities. Inferential statistics on the other hand was used to generalize on the sample population; it will generally entail the use of statistical tests such as variance, chi-square, standard deviation and other statistical test variables.
The approach for data analysis will consist of mainly univariate data analysis, which examines the distribution of one statistical variable at a time. Bivariate data analysis will also be deployed in analysis cases that will require the evaluation of the relationship between two variables, for example, the relationship that exists between gun control and gun related crimes (Fisher, 2007).
Issues of validity of the research
Limitations of the research
The significant constraint that the research will face is the time constraints. This may result to inadequate collection of questionnaires. This may result to a higher marginal error.
Another problem was that some target respondents might not be interested in answering the questions during the research and during interview. Some respondents may also provide inaccurate information, which will affect the accuracy of the findings and their respective interpretation.
Data analysis and interpretation will deploy adequate provisions in order to addresses the anticipated marginal error imposed by the research methodology.
Importance of the Study
This research is of significant value to the state, local and federal governments, and the various statutes that are implemented in response to the looming crisis of gun control in the United States. The study offers a framework through which proactive actions can be implemented in order to address the pertinent issues revolving gun availability in the United States. Therefore, the paper can be used by the law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and local government as a framework through which responsive action can be formulated in order to effectively address the inefficiencies of the gun control policies in order to reduce gun related violence.
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