Journal of Quantitative Criminology

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 391–410 | Cite as

Point blank against itself: Evidence and inference about guns, crime, and gun control

  • Richard D. Alba
  • Steven F. Messner


This essay considers the empirical foundations for some of the more important and controversial conclusions concerning guns, crime, and gun control advanced in Gary Kleck’s highly influential treatise,Point Blank. We reveal significant flaws in his original data analyses and identify problematic linkages between his evidence and his inferences. We suggest alternative interpretations for some of Kleck’s findings.

Key words

crime deterrence gun control gun ownership homicide 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ayers, B. D., Jr. (1994). Children frightened by gunfire plead with Congress for an end to violence.The New York Times Feb. 4: A 12.Google Scholar
  2. Bastian, L. D. (1993).Criminal Victimization 1992, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Bulletin NCJ-144776, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  3. Bollen, K. (1989).Structural Equations with Latent Variables, John Wiley, New York.Google Scholar
  4. Bordua, D. J., and Lizotte, A. J. (1979). Patterns of legal firearms ownership: A cultural and situational analysis of Illinois counties.Law Policy Q. 1: 147–175.Google Scholar
  5. Cook, P. (1979). The effect of gun availability on robbery and robbery murder: A cross section study of 50 cities. In Haveman, R., and Zellner, B. B. (eds.),Policy Stud. Rev. Ann., Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.Google Scholar
  6. Cook, P. (1987). Robbery violence.J. Crim. Law Criminol. 78: 357–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cook, P. (1991). The technology of personal violence. In Tonry, M. (ed.),Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, University of Chicago, Chicago.Google Scholar
  8. Cook, P. (1994). Review ofPoint Blank, N. Engl. J. Med. Feb. 3: 374–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duggar, C. (1994). Youthful, impressionable and accused of murder.N.Y. Times May 17: A1, B6–B7.Google Scholar
  10. Duncan, O. D. (1975).Introduction to Structural-Equation Models, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  11. Green, G. (1987). Citizen gun ownership and criminal deterrence.Criminology 25: 63–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Kleck, G. (1991).Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America, Aldine de Gruyter, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Kleck, G., and McElrath, K. (1991). The effects of weaponry on human violence.Soc. Forces 69: 669–692.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kleck, G., and Patterson, E. B. (1993). The impact of gun control and gun ownership levels on violence rates.J. Quant. Criminol. 9: 249–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kopel, D. B. (1992).The Samurai, the Mountie, and the Cowboy, Prometheus, Buffalo, NY.Google Scholar
  16. Kuhn, T. (1962).The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.Google Scholar
  17. Long, J. S. (1983).Covariance Structure Models: An Introduction to LISREL, Sage, Beverly Hills, CA.Google Scholar
  18. Maguire, K., Patore, A. L., and Flanagan, T. J. (1993).Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics 1992, U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  19. McDowall, D., Lizotte, A. J., and Wiersema, B. (1991). General deterrence through civilian gun ownership: An evaluation of the quasi-experimental evidence.Criminology 29: 541–559.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Polsby, D. (1994). The false promise of gun control.Atlantic Monthly Mar.Google Scholar
  21. Rand, M. J. (1994).Guns and Crime. Crime Data Brief (April), Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.Google Scholar
  22. Rindskopf, D. (1984). Structural equation models: Empirical identification, Heywood cases, and related problems.Sociol. Methods Res. 13: 109–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sherman, L. (1993). Review ofPoint Blank, Criminologist 18: 15–16.Google Scholar
  24. Toothaker, L. E. (1993).Multiple Comparison Procedures. Sage, Newbury Park, CA.Google Scholar
  25. Wilson, J. Q. (1994). Just take away their guns.N.Y. Times Mag. Mar. 20: 47.Google Scholar
  26. Wright, J., and Rossi, P. (1986).The Armed Criminal in America: A Survey of Incarcerated Felons, Aldine, Hawthorne, NY.Google Scholar
  27. Zimring, F. (1968). Is gun control likely to reduce violent killings?Univ. Chicago Law Rev. 35: 721–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard D. Alba
    • 1
  • Steven F. Messner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyState University of New York at AlbanyAlbany

Personalised recommendations