Thomas Gabor is an American-trained criminologist who taught and researched criminal justice for 30 years in Canada and has now settled in Florida where he and his wife run a consulting business specializing in ‘crime, justice and social research services and advice to government agencies, businesses, law enforcement and correctional agencies.’ To burnish his already-impressive credentials as an expert in these fields he has just published a book, Confronting Gun Violence in America which, according to the promotional announcement, ‘suggests a bold national strategy to confront gun violence.’ And since the gun violence prevention community (GVP) is now faced with figuring out a strategy to reduce gun violence in the Age of Trump, this book couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time.
Unfortunately, the author admits that he has no idea whether his bold national strategy can ever be implemented either in whole or in parts (p. 279), which renders the effectiveness of his argument somewhat more apparent than real. Because if Dr. Gabor has written this book to frame his analysis of the GVP debate within a context of workable solutions to the problem, then it really doesn’t move the argument forward to suggest a ‘bold national strategy’ without attempting to figure out whether any aspect of that strategy could possibly be implemented or not. And the truth is there’s not a single piece of Dr. Gabor’s bold strategy which hasn’t been suggested by other experts and researchers in the GVP field. So what does this book bring to the GVP discussion which hasn’t been brought to this discussion before?
What this book does bring is a well-balanced survey of research on just about every aspect of the gun violence debate, including such issues as the value of gun ownership for personal defense, whether access to guns increases the likelihood of suicide and other intentional deaths, the relationship between the existence or absence of gun laws and rates of gun violence in different states, how and why public opinion about gun violence changes over time, and just about every other relevant topic which is germane to the current gun violence debate. The book references somewhere around 100 peer-reviewed, published research papers, there’s a mention of most of the important advocacy and research efforts that have appeared online, and best of all, the arguments on both sides for each topic are presented in concise and readable ways. In other words, the book is a solid resource that can be used to understand the state of GVP knowledge and advocacy at the present time.
There’s only one little problem with Professor Gabor’s approach to the issue of gun violence, and this is not a criticism of what he has done, but rather a comment on the state of GVP awareness as a whole. There wouldn’t be any reason to publish a book like this or to even need a gun violence prevention advocacy movement if it weren’t for the fact that a majority of Americans do not seem to feel that gun violence is a serious problem at all. Or if they do believe it is a serious issue they certainly also believe that nothing should be done to mitigate the problem if whatever is proposed might make it more difficult for any law-abiding American to get his or her hands on a gun. The power of Gun-nut Nation isn’t simply a result of the determination of its members to maintain and enlarge their 2-Amendment ‘rights.’ It’s much more a reflection of the lack of concern manifested by most Americans about the 120,000 deaths and injuries attributed to gun violence each and every year.
Those who take the trouble to read and study this valuable book will be drawn from a segment of the population whose minds about the abhorrence of gun violence have already been made up. But what about everyone else? How to reach all those people with an effective and persuasive argument for reducing gun violence is a challenge yet to be met.