Beyond self-help: Gun ownership and crime reporting in a cross-national survey

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Many crime victims choose not to report their victimization to police or other formal authorities. However, understanding the nature of both reported and underreported crime is critical to proper allocation of criminal justice funding and resources. The present paper examines gun ownership as a potentially overlooked predictor of crime reporting, drawing on Black’s theory of self-help as social control. The present study tests whether the self-help orientation of gun owners is associated with a lower likelihood of reporting victimization to police. Data are drawn from the 2000 and 2004/5 waves of the International Crime Victimization Survey (ICVS). Hierarchical linear models are used to assess both individual variation and cross-cultural variation. Findings show that gun owners who own their weapons for reasons other than protection are more likely to report their victimization than non-owners. However, gun owners are less likely than non-owners to report their victimization in highly developed nations. Explanations for these findings and avenues for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Review of Victimology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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