Self-help? Examining the anti-crime effectiveness of citizen weapon possession

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This research examines the effects of individual protective weapon carrying on the likelihood of experiencing stranger-precipitated violent victimization. It is widely assumed that people at risk for victimization often arm themselves to counter their risk; thus, a positive association between weapon carrying and victimization should be anticipated but interpreted as spurious. Yet findings from hierarchical modeling of survey data from over 4, 000 Seattle residents indicate that weapon carrying increases the odds of subsequent violent victimization, even when controlling for multiple victimization risk factors. Further, the positive effect of weapon carrying is constant across the 100 communities within which survey respondents were nested. Although other predictors of violent victimization demonstrate non-random variability across context, this suggests that even community-level victimization risk factors cannot explain the positive effect of weapon carrying on victimization found here. Implications for citizen-initiated “self-help” are discussed in light of these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-167
Number of pages23
JournalSociological Focus
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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