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Debate: Can Handguns Be Effectively Regulated?

University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra, Vol. 156, p. 188, 2007

Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007-34

21 Pages Posted: 19 Nov 2007 Last revised: 14 Dec 2007

James Jacobs

New York University School of Law

David Kairys

Temple University - Beasley School of Law

Abstract

The FBI has recently reported that violent crime has increased for the second straight year across the nation. In particular, the FBI's report demonstrates that in major metropolitan areas, such as Philadelphia, homicides have increased by 6.7%.

In the midst of this upsurge in violent crime, Professors James B. Jacobs, of New York University, and David Kairys, of Temple University, reengage with America's long-running debate over the effectiveness of gun (specifically handgun) control regulation. Professor Jacobs initiates the debate by asking whether it is realistic to pursue a strategy of enhanced regulation of firearms in a country in which there are 300 million firearms in civilian hands, and the large majority of firearms used in crime... are either stolen or purchased on the black market. After providing a number of critiques of what he believes to be a shifting target set by pro-gun-control advocates, Professor Jacobs concludes that gun control offers no magic bullet for reducing crime, suicide, or accidental deaths and injuries.

In contrast, Professor Kairys does not consider the current amount of handgun regulation to be nearly enough to satisfy what common sense should tell us is necessary to adequately ensure that handguns are not easily available to criminals and youth. He specifically notes that any emphasis on the black market in handguns overshadows the disturbing reality that any person without a record can buy large quantities of cheap, easily concealed handguns and sell them to others indiscriminately, often without violating any law.

At a deeper level, both Professor Jacobs and Professor Kairys agree that the debate on handgun control at its core is [related to] a personal, cultural, and political identification of guns with personal selfworth..., freedom, liberty, and... God and country. Whereas Professor Jacobs accepts this as a political reality and uses it as an anchor from which to engage in this discussion, Professor Kairys steadfastly disagrees: The best hope for emerging from our disgraceful state of denial is to respectfully engage and challenge the cultural and political identification of guns with our nation's highest ideals and the deadly legacy of that identification as it is currently conceived.

Keywords: guns, firearms, gun regulation

Suggested Citation

Jacobs, James and Kairys, David, Debate: Can Handguns Be Effectively Regulated?. University of Pennsylvania Law Review PENNumbra, Vol. 156, p. 188, 2007; Temple University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2007-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1030802

James B. Jacobs

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States

David Kairys (Contact Author)

Temple University - Beasley School of Law ( email )

1719 N. Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19122
United States

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