Guns and Contemporary Society
The Past, Present, and Future of Firearms and Firearm Policy
by Glenn H. Utter, Editor
December 2015, 861pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
3 volumes, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3217-8
$179, £133, 155€, A242
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3218-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Why does the United States have the highest firearm-related death rate of all Western nations?

This three-volume set examines various approaches to firearms, including constitutional and legal issues, public health and criminal justice concerns, and perspectives on personal safety and self-defense.

Recent mass shootings have led to renewed calls for additional legislation at the state and federal levels to address gun access and control. In this hard-hitting compilation, experts delve into various aspects of firearms in America—from gun control and gun rights to militia movements, to school-related shootings, and to the recent trends in gun ownership by women. Authors from varied backgrounds and viewpoints share their perspectives on the pros and cons of firearm ownership as all of the following: a constitutional right, a key instrument of self-defense, a guarantee of political freedoms, and as a major factor in crime and personal injury.

The reference is divided into three volumes. The first volume covers firearm history, legislation, and policy; the second volume explores public opinion, gun ownership trends, international laws, and self-defense; and the third considers popular debates about firearm policy, including concealed carry of firearms, terrorism and the ownership of firearms, background checks for purchasing guns, and stand-your-ground laws. The work concludes with an informed debate on gun policy between Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners, and Paul Helmke, former president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.


  • Considers a wide variety of policy recommendations, from advocating greater firearm ownership and carrying among private citizens to suggestions for further limitations on gun acquisition and ownership
  • Features historical background on the development of the present role that firearms play in American society
  • Examines recent trends in the ownership of various types of firearms
  • Challenges the adequacy of background checks and granting of firearm access
  • Compares gun-related accidents and firearm policy among the states
Glenn H. Utter, PhD, is distinguished professor emeritus at Lamar University in Texas. His published works include Encyclopedia of Gun Control & Gun Rights; ABC-CLIO's Youth and Political Participation: A Reference Handbook; and Greenwood's Culture Wars in America: A Documentary and Reference Guide. Utter received his doctorate in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo.


"Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries."—Choice, May 2, 2016

"Without exception, every chapter provides solid scholarly documentation and offers openminded, objective, and relevant evidence-based information about guns in contemporary society. . . . [A]ny reader should be able to glean information that will be useful, whether in commonplace discussions, public speaking and writing, or scholarly contexts (e.g., lectures in a classroom in schools and higher education)."—PsycCRITIQUES, October 27, 2016

"Gun policy ringmaster Glenn Utter brings together a highly impressive and eclectic array of contributors to this new work on the enduring gun debate. Any reader seriously interested in the latest and most thoughtful writing and research will be both impressed and educated by these contributions. And no one brings a more fair-minded sensibility to this task than Utter. This book is filled with must-reading for anyone interested in the evolution and consequences of gun policy."—Robert J. Spitzer, Distinguished Service Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, State University of New York at Cortland; Author of Guns across America: Reconciling Gun Rules and Rights

"Few scholars have the experience to combine the insights available in Utter’s three-volume tome. It adroitly provides the historical context surrounding firearms in the United States, superbly covers the remarkable breadth of current views regarding firearms, and closes with a path-opening analysis of possible future policy directions. No better single source on these matters can be found."—Charles Lockhart, professor emeritus, Department of Political Science, TCU
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