In Search of the Smoking Gun: Consensus and Division in the Gun Control Debate

Megan Kurlychek, James Lee, Emerson Waite, Alexander Vanhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Incidents of gun violence and mass shootings continue to shock the U.S. citizenry. Each time there is a call for change, but then little happens. In this article we explore the history of gun control in America, how the issue became polarized, and search for sources of consensus or divide. Situated in Pennsylvania, we utilize a state-wide survey and regional focus groups to explore why individuals support or oppose gun control. Similar to prior research, we find the topic becomes polarized when reduced to a discussion for or against the second amendment. However, in the focus groups, we find much consensus on specific proposed policies, particularly those designed to protect children. Overall, our findings reveal that citizens remain open to gun control when the debate is directed at specific policies, rather than rhetoric. Our findings are important for future research on gun control as well as to policy-makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
JournalJustice Evaluation Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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