The Impact of Legislation on Violence Essay

  • Length: 33 pages
  • Sources: 20
  • Subject: Law  (general)
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #44797968

Excerpt from Essay :

Firearms Legislation and Firearms-Related Violence in Europe

This paper examines the relationship between firearms legislation and gun-related violence across countries and regions in Europe. The focus of the paper is to identify possible sources of literature to help answer questions regarding whether legislation is an effective tool in reducing firearms-related violence. The paper focuses on variance of gun violence rates throughout Europe, gun legislation, and possible national strategies for addressing the issue of gun violence. It finds that there are many variables that impact regions and can effect greater or lesser rates of gun violence -- factors such as education, culture, economic stability, political instability, and so on. No two countries are the same in terms of people, customs, traditions, ideals, and execution of the law. It is therefore important to better understand how culture plays a role in determining the effects of firearms-related violence in throughout Europe. This information could help the EU to better address the legislative issues it is currently facing regarding amending the Firearms Directive.


List of Figures and Tables 5

Table of Legislation and Cases 6

List of Abbreviations 7

Chapter 1: Introduction 8

Background 8

Research Aim 12

Research Objectives 12

Outline of Chapters 13

Chapter 2: Methodology 15

Introduction 15

Search Strategy 15

Selection Criteria 18

Methodological Considerations 19

Conclusion 20

Chapter 3: Variation in Violence 21

Introduction 21

Variance and Ownership 21

Variance and Homicides 23

Variation and Suicides 25

Discussion 26

Chapter 4: Regulations and Variance 27

Geopolitical Context 27

Sociological Context 29

Historical Context 30

Discussion 33

Chapter 5: An Effective National Strategy to Reduce Gun Violence 35

Education 35

Culture 35

Legislation 36

Discussion 37

Chapter 6: Conclusion 39

Summary of Key Findings 39

Implications of Findings 39

Key Recommendations 40

Areas for Future Research 41

Appendices 43

References 45

List of Figures and Tables

Table 1. Firearm-related crime reports in England and Wales.

Table 2. The rise and fall of firearm-related homicide rates in England.

Figure 1. Literature review search process for articles 2013 and later.

Figure 2. Literature review search process for articles 2000 and later.

Table of Legislation and Cases

Pistols Act of 1903

1920 Firearms Act

1937 Firearms Act

Firearms Ammendment Act 1988

1997 Firearms Amendment Acts

Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006

European Firearms Directive 91/477/EC

Amended Directive 2008/51/EC

List of Abbreviations

ASEO = academic search engine optimization

CPRC = Crime Prevention Research Center

EC = European Commission

EU = European Union

NATO = North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Chapter 1: Introduction

While literature on the relationship between firearm legislation and its impact on firearm-related violence exists, its quantity and quality is questionable. As Duquet and Van Alstein (2015) have shown, "studies investigating the correlations between gun ownership and violent deaths in a purely European context seem to be lacking" (p. 41). While these researchers, after performing their own study of European data, concluded that there is a strong correlation between gun ownership and firearm-related deaths in Europe, "additional variables for possible complicating factors such as unemployment rates, alcohol consumption or criminality rates" were not included in their analysis (Duquet, Van Alstein, 2015, p. 41). Thus their study, which is one of the foremost studies on the matter of firearms, firearm-related violence, and firearm legislation in Europe, indicates that there remains a significant gap in the literature regarding the relation of firearm legislation (which has a direct bearing on firearm ownership) to firearm-related violence and the question of whether other variables play a significant role in that relationship. As new legislation is on the brink of being passed in Europe, questions still remain about the efficacy of such legislation and what sort of balanced position nation states should take towards the regulation of firearms amid security and cultural crisis brought about by the War on Terror.


Firearm legislation is not new in the West. As early as 1594 when the Protestant Queen Elizabeth of England fearing attack from angry Catholics banned wheellock pistols near the palace (Jardine, 2006), firearms have been the center of controversy. On the one hand they have been recognized as the instrument of protection and their possession deemed a Constitutional right in many regions (most notably in the U.S., which has made the right to bear arms a centerpiece of many movements and organizations, such as the NRA). On the other hand they have been viewed as a threat to peace, life and security. Queen Elizabeth certainly felt that the concealed wheellock was a threat to her own life -- though the underlying cause of the fear -- serious antagonism between clashing cultures (the Protestant culture and the Catholic culture in England) -- was more to the point of the matter. Guns, therefore, can be seen as a symptom of a much deeper problem in society -- a problem that runs in two opposite directions at once: firearms can be used for sport, to assert one's rights, and to protect one's home and country; they can also be used to take life in a malicious manner -- one's own or one's neighbor's. They can be used to threaten, harass, undermine and destabilize.

The question of whether guns are to blame for violence or whether blame should be placed elsewhere is often mooted because administrators and leaders, like Elizabeth, have little interest or inclination or even ability to address underlying causes of strife that lead to violence: their immediate aim is simply to eliminate the possibility of violence -- thus, restrictions on guns. In England, the Pistols Act of 1903 was the first piece of legislation to restrict the sale of pistols. This was followed by the 1920 Firearms Act, which partly had a basis in the flood of weapons hitting the market in the wake of WWI as well as class uprisings, and partly had a basis in the 1919 Paris Arms Convention (Greenwood, 1972, p. 241). The 1937 Firearms Act modified this by raising the legal purchasing age from 14 to 17. Both the Firearms Ammendment Act 1988 and the 1997 Firearms Amendment Acts followed massacres in the UK that prompted legislators to restrict firearms sales even more. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 targeted air weapons following steep increases in the use of these firearms in criminal activity. In short, over the past century, the UK, acting as one example of the manner in which a Western society has sought to curtail violence, increasingly restricted citizens' ability to bear arms. To a large extent, the data indicates that these measures have worked. In 1992, violent crime related to firearms (both air and non-air) in England stood at 13,341 incidences and peaked in 2003/04 when 24,094 incidences were reported. In 2013/14 that number had dropped to 7,709 (Povey, 2005; ONS, 2015).

Table 1. Firearm-related crime reports in England and Wales.

Other countries have shown less success in addressing gun-related violence issues via gun-related legislation. Italy, France, Greece, Belgium and Portugal had the highest rates of firearm-related homicides in Europe in 2013 and Greece topped the list in unintentional firearm deaths that same year (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2016). Greece is currently undergoing a destabilizing crisis related to its mounting debt to the EU, which could be viewed as a factor in the populace's turn to firearms-related crime. Italy's firearm laws are not as restrictive as England's but firearms are still denied to individuals with criminal records and a license is required to carry, to use for sport, or to use for hunting (Butchart, Mikton, Krug, 2014). According to the Small Arms Survey of 2007, there are 7 million registered guns in Italy, whose firearms laws are well within the parameters of and are in fact guided by the European Firearms Directive. A comparison between nations could easily prompt one to ask whether the fact that the UK has been more restrictive in its gun laws than these other countries is the main reason for why England's firearm-related violence rates are lower. Or is there more to the picture than just a matter of legislation? England is much better off economically than either Greece or Italy. It is not tied to the continent the way France or Belgium is. Finding literature, surveys and studies to help answer these questions is the main problem that researchers face (Duquet, Van Alstein, 2015).

This study is thus faced with many questions -- not only in terms of what the relationship between gun legislation and rates of gun violence truly is -- but also about how to actually find the relevant data, the important studies that can help shed light on questions like: do guns lead to greater rates of violence? Is legislation effective in curtailing gun-related violence? Are there other factors that should be considered when attempting to limit firearms-related deaths? What should effective legislation look like?

The issue is important because currently in the EU there is a proposal to further restrict member states' citizens' access to guns. This proposal has considerable support and in recent weeks, the proposal was…

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