Guns in American Society

An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law, 2nd Edition

by Gregg Lee Carter, Editor


Each year, 30,000 Americans die from firearms. Those staggering numbers, along with recent shooting rampages at Virginia Tech (2007) and outside a grocery store in Tucson, AZ, (2011) have galvanized the intense debate over gun access. Yet, committed advocates on all sides of the issue remain entrenched as they argue whether stricter gun control or tougher law enforcement will stem the violence, or whether any infringement of gun owners' rights is acceptable.

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Cover image for Guns in American Society

May 2012


Pages 1096
Volumes 3
Size 7x10
Topics Politics, Law, and Government/History
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Thoroughly updated and greatly expanded from its original edition, this three-volume set is the go-to comprehensive resource on the legal, social, psychological, political, and public health aspects of guns in American life.

The landmark 2002 edition of Guns in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law was acclaimed for helping readers get beyond the sometimes overheated rhetoric and navigate the overwhelming amount of unbiased academic research on gun-related issues. Now, in light of the steady rate of gun violence and several high-profile shooting incidents, this extraordinary three-volume work returns in a timely and thoroughly updated edition.

With over 100 new entries, the latest edition of Guns in American Society is the most current resource available on all aspects of the gun issue, including rates of violence, gun control, gun rights, regulations and legislation, court decisions, pro- and anti-gun organizations, gun ownership, hunters and collectors, public opinion toward guns, and much more. With expert contributions from the fields of criminology, history, law, medicine, politics, and social science, it gives students, journalists, policymakers, and researchers a foundation for their own investigations, while helping readers of all kinds make decisions as family members, potential gun owners, and voters.


  • 450 alphabetically organized entries, including 100 new for this edition, covering key issues (suicide, video games and gun violence, firearm injury statistics) and events (workplace shootings, the Virginia Tech massacre)
  • 102 expert contributors from all academic fields involved in studying the causes and effects of gun violence
  • A chronology of pivotal moments and controversies in the history of firearm ownership and use in the United States
  • An exhaustive bibliography of print and online resources covering all aspects of the study of guns in the United States
  • Appendices on federal gun laws, state gun laws, and pro- and anti-gun-control organizations


  • Updates the acclaimed original edition to be the most current and complete resource on guns and gun violence in the United States
  • Examines the gun issue objectively, with neither a pro- nor antigun bias
  • Brings together experts from a wide range of disciplines, from law enforcement, to medicine, to the social sciences
  • Provides historical context and perspectives from across different cultures within the United States as it examines difficult questions regarding the presence of guns in American life
Author Info

Gregg Lee Carter is professor of sociology at Bryant University, Smithfield, RI. He has authored or edited 22 books, including The Gun Control Movement and ABC-CLIO's Gun Control in the United States: A Reference Handbook.



"This three-volume second edition (1st ed., CH, May'03, 40-4974) has been updated with over 100 new entries, making it the 'most current resource available on all aspects of the gun issue.' . . . The chronology highlights events from 1787 to 2011 and beyond. Appendixes offer material on key federal and state laws, and on organizations concerned with the role of guns in society. Summing Up: Recommended."Choice

"A combination of solid scholarship, relevant subject matter, and efficient cross-referencing makes this set a must-have for public and high school libraries supporting this perennial research topic. Highly recommended."Booklist, Starred Review

"This encyclopedia will provide a good foundation for anyone researching recent events of gun violence or other issues pertaining to gun ownership or gun control. A solid addition."Library Journal


2012 Editors' Choice Reference Source — Booklist

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