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By Peter Squires

N 1996 the taking pictures and killing of sixteen childrens in a Dunblane fundamental tuition provoked broad achieving parliamentary reform to British gun legislation. inside months almost all privately owned handguns have been outlawed. Gun tradition or Gun Control? offers the 1st sizeable research of the social and political reactions to occasions in Dunblane and likewise examines a number of the wider matters when it comes to gun keep watch over within the United Kingdom.

Rigorously comparative all through, Peter Squires offers a non-partisan exploration of the variations among attitudes to firearms and their keep watch over in Britain and within the usa. among the subjects the writer considers are:

* the social heritage of firearms on each side of the atlantic
* the differing coverage instructions followed in Britain and the USA
* media insurance of the gun question
* firearms and policing
* the way forward for the gun in society.

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These views surfaced once again, in 1996, during the British gun control debate following the Dunblane shootings. The different evolution of the Common Law right of self-defence in English and American circumstances is worth noting. In the latter context, the conditions of frontier society, and a mixture of individualism, egalitarianism and republican resistance sponsored a much stronger ‘right to self-defence’ than was tolerated in England (Brown, 1991). These contrasting resolutions of the authority and order problem gave rise to a series of questions about individual rights and collective security and in recent years these have been much debated.

Even so, the broader role of disorganised violence in the context of ‘post-modern’ social fragmentation has not yet received the kind of sustained theoretical attention given to organised collective violence in the context of state formation. Likewise, the broader significance of the gun in human affairs is seldom considered and (notwithstanding the considerable literature directly devoted to the American gun control debate), outside the USA, relatively little developed sociological attention has been paid to the social significance of one of the principal instruments of contemporary violence – the handgun.

A combination of elite restrictions, concentrated land ownership, the absence of suitable game and an urbanisation of working-class residential patterns conspired to keep firearms out of the hands of those perhaps more likely to employ them in criminal activities. In such ways a variety of contingencies influenced the ‘civilising process’ and, by the second half of the Historical and cultural perspectives 25 nineteenth century, a largely unarmed civilian policing system underpinned the increasingly collectivist character of the urban social order.

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