What Does Social Science Tell Us About the Link Between the Presence of Firearms and Violence? Part 1

2 men playing arcade game Fast Draw (Southland Engineering Inc., 1964) at California Extreme Arcade pinball Show 2009. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Author: numb3r

by Alice LoCicero

Note from Kathie MM: this post is the first in a two-part series based on a post by Dr. LoCicero on the Psychology Today website. Part 2 will appear Friday.

Another day in the US, another mass killing with firearms. …

The current public conversation about firearms is disturbing, because when anyone posts or publicly states the possibility of even what are known as “common sense” gun regulations—such as restrictions on automatic weapons or background checks before purchase in all situations (including so-called gun shows)—there is apt to be an aggressive and hostile backlash.

The most recent time when we thought—after the Las Vegas mass shooting—that there might be a glimmer of light where Congress might be willing to at least ban so-called “bump stocks” that allow a semi-automatic weapon to shoot like an automatic weapon—Congress froze and did nothing. (But as of yesterday, the state of Massachusetts has acted to ban them.)

The situation is worrisome, since the number of firearms in the US in 2017 is 300 million–very close to one per person. Perhaps more disturbing still, half of those 300 million firearms are owned by just 3% of Americans—about 9 million Americans own about 150 million firearms.

Let’s talk about just a few highlights of the relevant gun use science.  Early research is summarized briefly in a 2013 Psychology Today article by Professor Brad Bushman.

Professor Bushman recently published another study, with over 1000 participants, showing that images of firearms—whether used by police or soldiers on the one hand, or by criminals on the other–increased the accessibility of aggressive thoughts.

In 2014, Andrew Anglemyer, a scientist from the University of California, San Francisco, reported that an analysis of the results of sixteen studies “…found strong evidence for increased odds of suicide among persons with access to firearms compared with those without access…and moderate evidence for…increased odds of homicide victimization when persons with and without access to firearms were compared…”

Note from Kathie MM: Please join the dialogue. What will it take to get people to heed social science research about the ways in which access to guns increases the propensity to use them? Join us again Friday.

Posted in Armed conflict, Book reviews, culture of violence, Democracy, Economy and war, gun violence, militarization, Military-industrial complex, politics, Understanding violence, Weaponry | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

These are our children, Part 3

Photo by Deryal Yulsel, 2017

By Deryal Yuksel

Note from Kathie MM: This is the final installment of Deryal’s photo essay, which introduced us to Hasan, Hatun, Hanna, and  Ali, Syrian refugees who currently live in Istanbul, Turkey. Please look at their faces, hear their words. feel their goodness, and think of their rights as children to a safe and decent life.

“I can write in Arabic.”


“We all live in the same house.”

Hasan, Hatun, Hanna, and Ali, with photo essayist Deryal

Note from Kathie MM:  It is true.  We all live in the same house: Mother Earth. If Earth is to survive, we must do all we can to protect it and all the living thing who inhabit it.

Posted in Armed conflict, Champions of peace, Children and war, Human rights, Perspective-taking, police violence, Understanding violence | Tagged , | 2 Comments

These are our children, Part 2

“And then we ran away. Then we went in our home with our mothers. Everyone got in (the car). We carried some of our clothes. Then we came here (Istanbul).”

By Deryal Yuksel

In last Wednesday’s post , we introduced you to Hasan, Hatun, Hanna, and Ali, child refugees from Aleppo, Syria, who currently live in Istanbul, Turkey. Their story continues in this photo essay.

Unfortunately, most refugees experience indifference and neglect. We must recognize that change is never easy, especially if you are missing your homeland that no longer exists. It will make a big difference if we sharpen our senses and expand our outlook on humanity.  Take a moment to hear the stories of these four children.

*The quotes in the photo captions  come directly from the children and are translated into English.

“Then we carried our grandfather to the room. Then he died too.”


*Hasan taught me to sing one of his favorite songs in Arabic, Safer Ya Habibi. The translation of the song is “Travel my beloved, and return.”

“I am this many years old.”


“People take our photographs on the streets and then offer us money.”

“We moved to Istanbul four years ago.”

“We are bringing some clothes home.”

“The people here do not let us pose for their photographs the way that we would like to. They tell us to lift our arm, and do what they tell us to do and this bothers us a lot. They do not treat us right.”

“My father’s brother died. A bomb hit him and killed him.”

“My sister was born in our house in Turkey.”

“We are going to hang the photographs in our home.”

*On the streets, the children were offering small antique keys to promote peace.

Note from Kathie MM: I hope we will all do what these Syrian refugee children are requesting: Promote peace for all.  If we do not promote peace for everyone, there will be peace for no one.

Posted in Armed conflict, Champions of peace, child abuse, Children and war, Economy and war, gun violence, Perspective-taking, Poetry and the arts, politics, Poverty, racism, Stories of engagement, Understanding violence | Tagged , | 1 Comment