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Literature Review (rough draft)

Demographic Variables

Age. According to McClean and Beak (2012), research findings have shown that for the majority of crimes where a firearm is used, the offender is mainly in the middle to late adolescence after which there is a sharp and permanent drop. This is referred to as the age-crime-curve and has been developed based on the major parameters for measuring violent crime among them; self-reporting, victimization, and conviction data. Studies have also shown that there is a variation in the age-crime-curve depending on the type of crime. A specific study into violent crimes with a man as the perpetrator showed that the peak for violent crimes using a firearm was at a lesser age as compared to property crimes (Mclean & Beak, 2012). The research findings were based on rapid evidence assessment designed to study evidence based factors whereby results are based on 53 studies and 7 databases . At the age of 40, the rate of violent crime was half its peak and at zero at the age of 65. Research findings however, pointed to the fact that the factors identified within the research were associated with predictive of repeat violent behavior.

Gender. There is strong evidence that suggests there is more male firearm using offenders than females and thus, research has been more focused towards further exploring this phenomenon. Men compared to women commit many more criminal acts. While women in crime have criminal careers of less than a year and have a likelihood of one crime instance using a firearm, men, on the other hand, have the longest criminal histories and have the likelihood of recidivating into violent crime (Mclean & Beak, 2012; Hoskin, 2011).

The article is meant to investigate if their exists any relationship between firearm possession and gun-related suicides and homicidesnot just within the USA but in the entire world. Results for the research in Miami showed that males and young adults aged between 10 and 24 are at an increased risk of using a gun in homicide than their female counterparts (Stroebe, 2013). In the same research, it is further elaborate that, the only factor that differentiates frequency of violent offenders using firearm and frequency of non-violent offenders was gender, and men had the higher likelihood of being in the frequency violent using firearm offending group. The study is a combination of quantitative and qualitative because it embraces other case studies in methodology section and statistical data useful in making decisions. Each of the case study provides different results for observations made during varying time limits over the years.The data indicates that sucide cases that happened during the observation period were not all that were gun  related. That impies that gun is just but one cause of sucide but not the overall cause since, cases associated to it were minimal.

Ethnicity. Studies into race/ethnicity in violent crimes using firearms suggests that Blacks are more likely to possess, use, and be victims of a firearm crime as compared to the other races/ethnic groups in the American community (Stroebe, 2013; Males, 2015). According to Males (2015) research utilizing victimization data and official data from police crime records suggested that it is more likely for a black male to use and be the victim of violence where a firearm is used. While blacks are at an increased risk of using a gun in a violent crime, whites are the least likely with Hispanics at the middle.

Other Demographic Variables. Other demographic factors in the use of a firearm in violent crime include education level, employment history, socio-economic status, and violent recidivism (Mclean & Beak, 2012). Low education and unemployment have been shown, through a study of Danish birth cohort, to be typical among firearm-using violent offenders (Willits, Broidy & Denman, 2012).Primarily, the study by Willits, Broidy and Denman (2012) was done to examine the degree to which person, incident, and structural characteristics predict firearm usage in violent crimes. The data that was used in this particular study was drawn from consenus of 2000 and official crime data come from the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). Three variables were adopted in the study namely, person variables, incident variables, and structural variables.Person variables were charactirised by data made up of age, gender, and race.Where the ages involved were less than 18 years and 18 to 25 years. Incident variables assumed time between 8 pm to 2 am. The research adopted a descriptive statistiucs methodology in explaining violent incidents. The results from the research elaborate that 67% of violent incidents were made of male offenders while, 20% involved male and female offenders. In addition, 44 % of incidents were made of male victims and 133% was made by bothe male and female victims. Finally, it is clear from the research that crime offenders and victims have shared incident characteristics that firearm crimes tend to share and they can be identified for creation of policies that would assist curb such incidences.

Legal Issues/Previous arrests or previous behavior

Previously Carrying a Weapon.  A study by Valle and Glover  (2012)on the effects of weapon carrying, either legally or illegally, in 57 American cities showed that individuals were more likely to use firearm in violent crime.  Research proposal was exploratory because their has been mass shootings within America that have elicited mixed reactions from commentators and attracted political debates. Participants for the survey were drawn from each of the 57 cities. Thus, analysis would by comparison of groups in different cities with more strict gun and ammunition regulations compared to cities with less restrictive regulations of guns and ammunition. Results show that in cities with laws allowing gun carrying, even though incidences of gun violence are higher, rates of robbery, including robbery with violence, are very minimal.  Further statistics show that for individuals who previously carried weapons, they are more likely to be involved in firearm violence including homicide by a 20-30%.


Runaways are a major factor in gun violence and in particular, mass shooting. Runaways in the recent years, in the US, have been a major cause of gun violence, particularly to children, not factoring in incidences that are motivated by terror. Exposure to runaways has been mainly in homes, in schools, and in other community public areas. Since 2010, runaway firearm violence has contributed about 1% of the total homicide cases in the United States.

Threats against others

According to Hemenway and Solnick (2015) a study was conducted to determine the relative effectiveness of SDGU in preventing injury and property loss in America. Research findings from the study show that threats towards and against others are a contributing factor towards the use of a firearm in violence. The study adopted data from National Crime Victimization Survey for 2007–2011 whereby quantitative multivariate analyses that was controlled took course. The results are fascinating in that over 14,000 incidents in which the victim was present, only 127 which amounts to 0.9% were involved in SDGU . The conclusion drawn from the study is that SDGU is not uniquely beneficial in reduction of the likelihood of injury or property loss when compared to other protective action.Hemenway & Solnick (2015) argue that a firearm is more likely to be used in threatening others and more so in states where gun ownership is loosely controlled. On the reverse, threats victims using guns for self-defense are less likely to be injured, even though researchers found not a significant difference to probability to be injured as compared to victims using other protective measures.


Gun use in fighting is more pronounced within gangs in the United States. In a study of 2,792 gun-using violent offenders, 6.8% were members of various gangs (Willits et al., 2012). The research was conducted by New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center (NM SAC) to exame the extent to which person, incident, and structural characteristics predict firearm usage in violent crimes. Data for testing 8 hypothesis that were developed for the research were obtained from Official crime data coming from the Albuquerque Police Department (APD). Moreover, search into gang involvement showed that guns were their primary weapon of choice in gang-to-gang fights. Research shows that being a gang member increases the risk of firearm violence across gender where both males and females by virtue of being a gang member have equal and higher risks to using a firearm in violence. In non-gang related fights, research has shown that it’s more likely for a gun-owner to use it primarily for the purpose of intimidating the other.

Juvenile Justice/Conduct Disorder history

According to Swanson et al. (2015), conduct disorder and history of the same condition is a contributory factor towards the use of a firearm in the perpetration of the violent crimes. Their research shows that persons with a history of conduct disorder are more likely to use a gun in aggressive behavior. However, the actual use of a firearm in an act of violence depends on access to a firearm either at home or through illegal channels. In addition, the likelihood of using a firearm in aggressive behavior was higher among males, younger persons, married, and persons living in outlying areas of a metropolitan rather in within city centers.

Other legal issues/previous behavior problems

Other legal issues that are cited as factors promoting the use of firearms in aggressive behavior are recidivism. Studies show that, generally, for a group of violent firearm-using offenders, half are usually recidivists.

Willits et al. (2012) argue that there is research evidence showing that the possibility of aggressive behavior using a firearm increases with each subsequent violent offense. However, the peak of recidivism is highest during mid-adolescence and gradually tails off in late adolescence, similar to the age-crime-curve. Research findings show that men with long criminal careers, regardless of the type of crime are at an increased risk of engaging in aggressive behavior using a firearm (Kasprzak, 2013). Similar, an individual with a history of crime is more likely to engage in violent recidivism.

  1. Deviant peers

Deviant peer groups have been argued to be a cause of antisocial behavior, especially at a young age. Data from a national survey of state prison inmates was used in to calculation of the proportion of offenders, incarcerated for crimes committed with firearms in 13 which were categorized to have the least restrictions on firearm purchase and possession laws, who would have been prohibited if their states had stricter gun laws; and second the determination of the source of gun acquisition for offenders who were not legally permitted to purchase and possess firearms.In addition, research shows that deviant peer can be used to predict violent offending. One study comparing violent offenders and general offenders found that such groups exhibited antisocial behavior and it suggested antisocial behavior can be used to predict chronic offending but not violent firearm using aggressive behavior (Vittes, Vernick & Webster, 2013). For adults involved in violent crime, deviant peers were only cited as being a contributory factor towards non-recidivism and violent recidivists, with those with, or have had deviant peers being violent recidivists. Finally, the results showed that 3 in 10 gun offenders were legal gun possesors and they would not have been lincensed to own the guns if their states had more strict prohibitions on purchasing a firearm.

  1. Dysfunctional families

Domestic abuse incidents

Various factors related to originating from dysfunctional families have been shown to have contributory roles towards predicting the use of a firearm in aggressive behavior. Domestic abuse, especially at a young age, for instance, has been shown through research to predict violent behavior, with possible firearm usage for the purpose of preventing through intimidation or simply stopping any resistance. However, research has not shown any significant difference between domestic abuse and engagement in violent behavior using a firearm. A study comparing adolescents arrested due to violent behavior with adolescents arrested for non-violent offenses showed no significance difference between through who experienced domestic abuse and those who didn’t. However, research has shown that persons who have experienced domestic abuse in the hands of their parents or guardians are at an increased risk of being recidivists (Stroebe, 2013; Males, 2015).

  1. Mental illness


Research provides little population-level evidence to indicate that persons who have been diagnosis with mental illness are more likely to commune gun crimes (Metzl & MacLeish, 2015). According to Metzl & MacLeish (2015), less than 3-5% of crimes in the US involve persons with mental illness, and the percentage for those who have been diagnosed with mental illness and their use a gun in a crime is even lower. Based on data from gun homicide, fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun-related killing between 2001 and 2010 were by persons who had been diagnosed with mental illness.

Inpatient at psychiatric facility

There is little if any statistical data related to an inpatient at a psychiatric facility for the basic reason that, firearms and weapons, in general, are prohibited in these facilities and inpatients have limited access to firearms. Nevertheless, research has shown that persons with serious mental illness and thus, have been admitted to a psychiatric facility are three times more likely to commit acts of violence using firearms. The number of persons with serious mental illness in the US per year is on average 2.9% making it a very small number.

Threats or acts of self-harm

Suicidal tendencies, in particular, are considered a major factor in predicting the use of a firearm in aggressive behavior. According to Swanson et al. (2015), suicides accounted for on average 61% of all firearm-related deaths in the US in 2014. However, the specific link between self-harm and violent crime is contentious among various researchers. Some researchers argue that persons with mental illness and exhibiting suicidal tendencies are at a greater risk of using a firearm in aggressive behavior in the periods between psychotic episodes and psychiatric hospitalization.

  • Narcotics/substance abuse/alcohol abuse

Drug and alcohol abuse in earlier ages is argued to be related to violent offending as well as recidivism. Research has shown that substance and alcohol abuse in early years, especially before 11 years is a factor towards predicting future violence. Adolescents who are classified as frequent drinkers are 2.4 times more likely to engage in violent crime as compared to their light to non-drinking counterparts (Sevigny & Allen, 2015; Mclean & Beak, 2012). For adult substance and alcohol users, the link between drug usage and violent crime is mixed. While some studies show that drug use and violent behavior have a significant relationship for both men and women, others show that drug abuse is only a contributory factor and leads to violent behavior when combined with other factors (Chen & Wu, 2016).

Nevertheless, none of the studies seems to have a direct link between drug abuse and use of a firearm, simply violent behavior with no clear use of a firearm. However, researchers conclude that substance abuse should be factored in gun-crime control initiatives (Sevigny & Allen, 2015; Chen & Wu, 2016).


Chen, D., & Wu, L. T. (2016). Association between substance use and gun-related behaviors. Epidemiologic reviews, mxv013.

Hemenway, D. & Solnick, S.J. (2015).  The epidemiology of self-defense gun use: Evidence from the National Crime Victimization Surveys 2007-2011.  Preventive Medicine. 79: 22-27.

Hoskin, A. (2011). Household gun prevelence and rates of violent crime: A test of competing gun theories. Criminal Justice Studies, 125-136.

Kasprzak, J. (2013). Scope of illegal Possession of Weapons in Poland and Character Study of a Perpetrator of this Crime. Internal Security, 147-158.

Males, M. (2015). Age, Poverty, Homicide, and Gun Homicide Is Young Age or Poverty Level the Key Issue? SAGE Open, 1-12. DOI: 10.1177/2158244015573359

Mclean, F. & Beak, K. (2012). Factors associated with serious or persistent violent offending: Findings from a rapid evidence assessment. National Policing Improvement Agency

Metzl, J. M., & MacLeish, K. T. (2015). Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms. American Journal of Public Health105(2), 240–249. doi.10.2105/AJPH.2014.302242

Sevigny, E. L., & Allen, A. (2015). Gun carrying among drug market participants: evidence from incarcerated drug offenders. Journal of quantitative criminology31(3), 435-458.

Stroebe, W. (2013). Firearm possession and violent death: A critical review, Aggression and Violent Behavior. doi.10.1016/j.avb.2013.07.025

Swanson, J.W., Sampson, N.A., Petukhova, M.V., Zaslavsky, A.M., Appelbaum, P.S., Swartz, M.S. & Kessler, R.C. (2015). Guns, Impulsive Angry Behavior, and Mental Disorders: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), Behavioral Sciences and the Law. DOI: 10.1002/bsl.2172

Valle, J. &. (2012). Revisiting Licensed Handgun Carrying: Personal Protection or Interpersonal Liability? American Journal of Criminal Justice, 580-601.

Vittes, K. A., Vernick, J. S., & Webster, D. W. (2013). Legal Status and Source of Offenders’ Firearms In States With the Least Stringent Criteria for Gun Ownership. Injury Prevention 19.1, 26-31.

Willits, D., Broidy, L. & Denman, K. (2012). Predictors of Firearm Usage in Violent Crimes: Assessing the Importance of Individual, Situational, and Contextual Factors, New Mexico Statistical Analysis Center.

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