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Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America (Social Institutions and Social Change) [Hardcover]

Gary Kleck
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 31, 1991 0202304191 978-0202304199 1ST

Winner of the 1993 Michael J. Hindelang award of the American Society of Criminology.

By 1990 there were approximately 200 million guns in private hands in the United States, and around half of American households contained a gun. Over 30,000 people a year are killed with guns in suicides, homicides, and acci­dents, and Americans use guns for defensive purposes over a million times a year. There is little doubt that gun violence and control are issues of vital importance, and they continue to inspire national debate. It is doubtful, however, whether most gun debates are worth listening to. Not surprisingly, such debates generally leave their participants exactly where they began, with their biases intact, and onlookers perplexed.

Written deliberately to counter an atmosphere of hysteria and extremism. Point Blank, now in paperback, offers logi­cal argument supported by empirical information. It con­fronts fundamental questions head-on. On its initial publication in 1993, Point Blank won the Michael J. Hindelang Award of the American Society of Criminology for the book that "made the most outstanding contribution to criminology." Point Blank reports both original research and assesses existing evidence drawn from a wide variety of academic disciplines, including criminology, sociology, law, and medicine.

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Editorial Reviews


“Kleck's book is a comprehensive review of the issues and facts regarding gun use and gun control in the US... The book is organized into four sections: issues of gun control and gun ownership, effects of guns on violence, regulating guns, and policy lessons. The text is clearly written, with effective use of tables, and is well referenced. Recommended for libraries developing comprehensive collections in the areas of criminal justice or criminology. Upper-division undergraduates and above.”

R. T. Sigler, Choice

"Kleck assesses the evidence, adduced with the tools of social science, on the issues of gun control and gun owner­ship—ideology, politics, and propaganda, as well as data on who owns guns, how they acquire them, and why; the effects of guns on violence—self-defense, violent crime, suicide, accidents; regulation—types, public opinion, impact on vio­lence rates; and policy lessons. His findings indicate that guns do contribute to violence, but in complex ways that are not acknowledged by either activists or academics. From the mass of evidence, he draws informed recommendations for a na­tional policy."

Book News, Inc.

“This eagerly awaited magnum opus is essential reading and resource material for those interested or engaged in research on issues involving gun-related violence. Kleck’s collected research over the last decade, some of which appears here in one form or another, has touched on and attempted to identify, demystify, and remove ideological biases, of both the conventional left and right, from many of these controversial topics…. This book is suitable for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses on violence and violent crime… I will refer to it frequently in classes and research… [A] refreshingly fair and persuasive book. It is the definitive work on firearm-related issues in American society. Point Blank is on target.”

—Fred Hawley, Social Forces

Point Blank is easily the most comprehensive work on firearms, violence, and firearms control ever published… [T]he book is also valuable as a reference volume. Containing mountains of statistical data on firearms production, hunting, crime, suicide, accidents, survey items, and the like, in addition to an extraordinary bibliography and literature review, the book is a virtual treasure trove of information for any researcher on the topic… The book flows nicely… [T]he point of view of this work is refreshing, especially in the context of the low-level hack rhetoric that for so long has characterized gun-control “research” by some academicians. Kleck’s research will change the direction and raise the level of discussion.”

—Alan Lizotte, Contemporary Sociology

“Kleck does the gun control policy debate a great service in demonstrating the complexity of issues that too often are discussed in simplistic ways in the political arena.”

—H. Laurence Ross, American Journal of Sociology

About the Author

Gary Kleck is professor of criminology and criminal jus­tice at Florida State University. He is the author of Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control and coauthor, with Don Kates, of The Great American Gun Debate and Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control. His articles have been pub­lished in several journals, including the American Sociologi­cal Review, American Journal of Sociology, Social Forces, Social Problems, Criminology, Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology, Journal of the American Medical Association, and Law & Society Review.

Product Details

  • Series: Social Institutions and Social Change
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Aldine Transaction; 1ST edition (December 31, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0202304191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0202304199
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #960,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A former gun-phobe December 10, 1998
What is striking is that Prof. Kleck actually began this series of studies to "prove" that guns in the hands of citizens doesn't reduce crime. Ya see, Kleck is a liberal Democrat. He is a member of the ACLU, Common Cause, Amnesty International and supports the typical liberal agendas. When he got done crunching the data he found results that shocked him. At a minimum, Americans use firearms 2.5 million times per year in direct, face to face defenses. And that is Kleck's admittedly conservative estimate. Additionally, only 1% of the time is the thug shot, and only 0.1% of all encountered thugs are killed. Remarkable restraint, I'd say. Good people just left alone.
The bad news, Kleck received far fewer invitations to Florida State University cocktail parties. The good news, He won the Hindelang Award for the most significant work by a criminologist (in a whole bunch of years).
I would suggest that most people who would consider buying "Point Blank" would be happier getting Klecks collaboration with Prof. Don Kates titled, "The Great Gun Debate." It covers the same issues in a more digestible, less academic manner, and should be about half the price.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
A rigorous and dispassionate statistical examination of a topic more often distinguished by emotion than reason, Mr Kleck has created a book that everyone interested in the suject of gun control should read, and which every second amendment advocate should own.<P>This comprehensive study starts with an examination of the ideological nature of arguement on the subject, and thoroughly examines the nature of gun ownership and use in the United States.<P>Supporters of gun control have tried and failed to impugn the integrity of the author, who owes allegiance to no vested interest, and who reached his conclusuion that gun ownership has a more positive than negative effect on society in spite of his own early leanings.<P>Thoroughly documented, Point Blank is a required reference book for anyone with the courage to set personal bias aside, and search for the truth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a deeper look January 30, 2013
By Just Me
Japan's low murder rate is often presented as a reason to copy their low rate of gun ownership. Kleck, however, points out that Japan's lower homicide rate has a lot to do with cultural differences. He shows that the homicide rate of Japanese-Americans, with ready access to guns, is lower than that of Japanese living in Japan. Not definitive, but a good look at the issue that goes beyond the usual shallow, "I'm not trying to learn about the issue, only push my view" look.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gary Kleck point blank January 22, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book,well written and i will use for reference in the future.I basically subscribe to the people politics of the author.
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7 of 55 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kleck gives a bad name to research February 25, 2012
Kleck is a gun lover and his biased research is directly counter to more respected agnostic work by the Director of the Harvard School of Public Health, Dr. David Hemenway in his book Private Gun, Public Health. Over and over again its been pointed out by research studies that the more guns in a society the more lethality. Mr. Kleck's work is used by gun rights extremists to ex-post facto prove their flawed argument on the gun debate
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