Do Higher Gun Ownership Levels Reduce Community Feelings of Safety?
16 Pages Posted: 16 Jun 2020
Date Written: May 28, 2013
Fear of crime can have detrimental effects on health and feelings of well-being. People who own guns for self-defense say that they feel safer because of their guns. Hemenway et al. (1995), asserted, based on responses to one hypothetical question on a single survey, that gun ownership, even by noncriminals, reduces community feelings of safety. This study tests the hypothesis that higher community levels of gun ownership reduce feelings of safety, especially among persons who do not own guns. The study used a multi-level design in which the feelings of safety and fear were measured in national surveys and then linked with community-level measures of gun ownership, controlling for community crime rates and police levels, as well as various individual-level determinants of fear of crime. The sample was composed of 2,897 residents of large U.S. cities who responded to the General Social Surveys. No significant fear-increasing effects of community gun levels were found, for either the full sample, or separately for those who do not own guns. Higher levels of community gun ownership show no evidence of increasing fear among those who do not themselves own guns.
Keywords: gun levels, fear
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation