Guns and Violence: The English Experience

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2009 - Law - 352 pages

Behind the passionate debate over gun control and armed crime lurk assumptions about the link between guns and violence. Indeed, the belief that more guns in private hands means higher rates of armed crime underlies most modern gun control legislation. But are these assumptions valid?

Investigating the complex and controversial issue of the real relationship between guns and violence, Joyce Lee Malcolm presents an incisive, thoroughly researched historical study of England, whose strict gun laws and low rates of violent crime are often cited as proof that gun control works. To place the private ownership of guns in context, Malcolm offers a wide-ranging examination of English society from the Middle Ages to the late twentieth century, analyzing changing attitudes toward crime and punishment, the impact of war, economic shifts, and contrasting legal codes on violence. She looks at the level of armed crime in England before its modern restrictive gun legislation, the limitations that gun laws have imposed, and whether those measures have succeeded in reducing the rate of armed crime.

Malcolm also offers a revealing comparison of the experience in England experience with that in the modern United States. Today Americans own some 200 million guns and have seen eight consecutive years of declining violence, while the English--prohibited from carrying weapons and limited in their right to self-defense have suffered a dramatic increase in rates of violent crime.

This timely and thought-provoking book takes a crucial step in illuminating the actual relationship between guns and violence in modern society.


What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - mrtall - LibraryThing

It’s rare to encounter a work of social science that manages to overturn a major tenet of conventional wisdom. But Joyce Malcolm’s excellent Guns and Violence: the English Experience does just that. I ... Read full review

Guns and violence: the English experience

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

This historical study is a companion to Malcolm's earlier book, To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right. While the first book focused on the constitutional and legal aspects of ... Read full review


The Middle Ages Laws Outlaws and Crimes of Violence
The TudorStuart Centuries Revolution in Church State and Armaments
The Eighteenth Century Fruitful in the Inventions of Wickedness
The Nineteenth Century An Era of Rare Success
19001953 The Government Takes Control
19532000 Only the Criminals Have the Guns
More Guns More Crime or More Guns Less Crime? The American Case
The Right Equation
Firearm Licences in England and Wales

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Joyce Lee Malcolm is Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law.

Bibliographic information