After reading and researching the gun rights/gun control debate over the past few years, I have decided to collect some of the most essential resources and make them available (as much as possible; some you must purchase). Below you will find everything from books to white papers to peer-reviewed journal articles to websites and articles.
Both sides of the debate are presented, but because I am convinced that the evidence, best arguments, and truth lie on the side of gun rights and conceal carry, there will be more resources tilted toward that perspective (can you blame me for wanting to present the truth?). Regardless, I encourage you to read both sides in order to become familiar with the debate and sift through the arguments, finding those that are valid, those that depend upon straw men or distortions, and those which are blatantly false. Realize that although there are almost always two (or more) sides to every issue, that does not mean that both sides are equally valid in terms of evidence or argument. We must be willing to follow the evidence wherever it leads, not cherry-pick the evidence to craft a conclusion to match our predilections.
One of the difficult aspects about the gun debate is that if you pluck a single article or book and only read that, you will likely be convinced of what they are say without realizing that you are dipping into the middle of a thirty year conversation. Most likely the arguments you read have been addressed and countered (or at least attempts at such) in subsequent publications by other authors. For those who are serious about obtaining genuine knowledge in this area (and not just artificial talking points) in order to help our country in the area of gun violence and death, I would strongly encourage you to thoroughly read through the literature in order to grasp the nature and contours of the debate.
Table of Contents
- Political Theory & Natural Rights
- General (Gun Ownership, Crime, Deterrence, Mass Public Shootings)
- Second Amendment & Legal Jurisprudence
- Historical & International
- Mental Illness & Suicide
- Opinion Pieces & Newspaper Articles
Any work marked with a double asterisk (**) is an especially important work and required reading. I will occasionally make remarks about certain sources in brackets . I will continue to add to these resources as I have time.
Political Theory & Natural Rights
Barrow, R. L. and G. M. Mauser. “‘Dangerous Women’: Feminism, Self-Defense and Civil Rights.” 2002.
DeGrazia, David. “Handguns, Moral Rights, and Physical Security.” Journal of Moral Philosophy 11 (2014): 1-21.
Hsiao, Timothy. “Against Gun Bans and Restrictive Licensing.” Philosophy and Gun Control 16, no. 2 (2015): 180-203.
Hsiao, Timothy and C’zar Bernstein. “Against Moderate Gun Control.” Libertarian Papers 8, no. 2 (2016): 308-25.
Hunt, Lester H. “The Right to Arms as a Means Right.” Public Affairs Quarterly 25, no. 2 (2011): 113-30. (JSTOR)
Kopel, David B., Paul Gallant, and Joanne D. Eisen. “The Human Right of Self-Defense.” Brigham Young University Journal of Public Law 22, no. 1 (2008): 43-178.
Stell, Lance K. “Self-Defense and Handgun Rights.” Journal of Law, Economics, and Policy 2 (2006): 265-307. (HeinOnline)
Wheeler, Samuel C., III. “Self-Defense: Rights and Coerced Risk-Acceptance.” Public Affairs Quarterly 11, no 4 (1997): 431-43. (JSTOR; PhilPapers)
General (Gun Ownership, Crime, Deterrence, Mass Public Shootings)
Alschuler, Albert W. “Two Guns, Four Guns, Six Guns, More Guns: Does Arming the Public Reduce Crime?” Valparaiso University Law Review 31 no. 2/3 (1997): 365-373.
Ayres, Ian and John J. Donohue III. “Shooting Down the “More Guns, Less Crime” Hypothesis” Stanford Law Review (2003): 1193-1312.
Beck, Glenn. Control: Exposing the Truth About Guns. New York: Threshold Editions, 2013. [I wouldn’t normally encouraging reading Beck, but in this case his sources are solid, so his conclusions are valid.]
Committee on Law and Justice, and the National Research Council. Edited by Carol V. Petrie, John V. Pepper, and Charles F. Wellford. Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2004.
Cook, Philip J. and Kristen A. Gross. The Gun Debate: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.
**Cramer, Clayton E. and David Burnett. “Tough Targets: When Criminals Face Armed Resistance from Citizens.” Cato Institute, White Paper, February 2012. (PDF). [Excellent summary of the number and type of defensive gun uses in the US and their effectiveness].
DeGrazia, David. “The Case for Moderate Gun Control.” Kennedy Institute of Ethics Jouranl 24, no. 1 (2014): 1-25.
Diaz, Tom. The Last Gun: How Changes in the Gun Industry Are Killing Americans and What It Will Take to Stop It. New York: The New Press, 2013.
Gius, Mark. “An Examinatio of the Effects of Concealed Weapons Laws and Assault Weapon Bans on State-Level Murder Rates.” Applied Economics Letters 21, no. 4 (2014): 265-67. (TandFOnline)
Hemenway, David. Private Guns, Public Health. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 2006.
Jackson, Kathy, and Mark Walters. Lessons from Armed America. White Feathers Press, 2009.
Kates, Don B. “The Right to Arms: The Criminology of Guns.” Cardozo Law Review DeNovo (2010): 86-98.
**Kates, Don and Gary Mauser. “Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide? A Review of International and Some Domestic Evidence.” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (2007): [One of the best articles on international evidence for gun control legislation, even though it relies upon cross-sectional data, which isn’t good methodology].
Kleck, Gary. “The Impact of Gun Ownership Rates on Crime: A Methodological Review of the Evidence.” Journal of Criminal Justice 43 (2015): 40-48.
Kleck, Gary. “Large-Capacity Magazines and the Casualty Counts in Mass Shootings.” Justice Research and Policy 17, no. 1 (2016): 28-47. (PDF)
Kleck, Gary. Point Blank: Guns and Violence in America. New Brunswick, NJ: Aldine Transaction, 2005.
Kleck, Gary. Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control (Social Institutions and Social Change). New York: Aldine Transaction, 1997.
Klerk, Gary. “What do CDC Surveys Say About the Frequency of Defensive Gun Uses?” February 14, 2018.
**Kleck, Gary and Marc Gertz. “Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense With a Gun.” Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology 86, no. 1 (1995): 150-187. (NCJRS)
**Kleck, Gary, and Don Kates. Armed: New Perspectives on Gun Control. 2nd ed. New York: Prometheus Books, 2001.
Kopel, David. The Truth About Gun Control (Encounter Broadside). New York: Encounter Books, 2013.
Kopel, David B., ed. Guns: Who Should Have Them? New York: Prometheus Books, 1995.
Levy, Robert A. “Pistol Whipped: Baseless Lawsuits, Foolish Laws.” Cato Institute, Policy No. 400, May 2001. (PDF)
**Lott, John R., Jr. The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2003.
Lott, John R. “Do Background Checks on Private Gun Transfers Help Stop Mass Public Shootings?” Crime Prevention Research Center. January 2, 2016. (SSRN)
**Lott, John R., Jr. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. 3rd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. [The best all-around book on guns. Technical, knowledgeable, comprehensive. Conclusions have been verified time and again].
Lott, John R., Jr. Straight Shooting: Firearms, Economics and Public Policy. Bellevue, WA: Merril Press, 2010.
**Lott, John R., Jr. The War on Guns: Arming Yourself Against Gun Control Lies. New York: Regnery Publishing, 2016.
Lott, John R. “The Concealed-Handgun Debate.” Journal of Legal Studies 27, no. 1 (1998): 221-43.
**Lott, John R. and William Landes. “Multiple Victim Public Shootings, Bombings, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handgun Laws: Contrasting Public and Private Law Enforcement.” University of Chicago Law School, John M. Olin Law & Economics Working Paper No. 73, NBER, April, 1999. (SSRN) Revised version (Oct. 2000).
**Lott, John and David Mustard. “Crime, Deterrence, and Right-to-Carry Concealed Handguns.” Journal of Legal Studies 6, no. 1 (1997) (Chicago Working Paper Series, The Law School, The University of Chicago) (SSRN)
**Lott, John and John Whitley. “Safe Storage Gun Laws: Accidental Deaths, Suicides, and Crime.” Journal of Law and Economics 44, no. 2 (October 2001): (SSRN)
Ludwig, Jens. “Gun Self-Defense and Deterrence.” Crime and Justice 27 (2000): 363-417.
Miller, Emily. Emily Gets Her Gun:…But Obama Wants to Take Yours. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2013.
Moody, Carlisle. “Testing for the Effects of Concealed Weapons Laws: Specification Errors and Robustness.” Journal of Law and Economics 44, no. 2 (October 2001): 799-813. (SSRN)
Moorhouse, John C. and Brent Wanner. “Does Gun Control Reduce Crime or Does Crime Increase Gun Control?” Cato Journal 26, no. 1 (2006): 103-24.
Mustard, David. “The Impact of Gun Laws on Police Deaths.” Journal of Law and Economics 44, no. 2 (October 2001): 635-657.
Nisbet, Les, ed. The Gun Control Debate: You Decide (Contemporary Issues). 2nd ed. New York: Prometheus Books, 2001.
Olson, David and Michael Maltz. “Right‐to‐Carry Concealed Weapon Laws and Homicide in Large U.S. Counties: The Effect on Weapon Types, Victim Characteristics, and Victim‐Offender Relationships.” Journal of Law and Economics 44, no. 2 (October 2001): 747-770.
Parker, Jeffery S. “Guns, Crime, and Academics: Some Reflections on the Gun Control Debate.” Journal of Law and Economics 44, no. 2 (October 2001): 715-723.
Plassmann, Florenz and T. Nicolaus Tideman. “Does the Right to Carry Concealed Handguns Deter Countable Crimes? Only a Count Analysis Can Say.” Journal of Law and Economics 44, no. 2 (October 2001): 771-798. (SSRN; JSTOR)
Poe, Richard. The Seven Myths of Gun Control: Reclaiming the Truth About Guns, Crime, and the Second Amendment. New York: Three Rivers Press, 2003.
Schulman, J. Neil. Stopping Power: Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns. Mill Valley, CA: Pulpless, 1999.
Smith, Guy. Gun Facts. Version 6.2. Amazon: CreateSpace, 2013.
Snyder, Jeffrey. “Fighting Back: Crime, Self-Defense, and the Right to Carry a Handgun.” Cato Institute, Policy Analysis No. 284, October 1997. (PDF)
Spitzer, Robert. Gun Control: A Documentary and Reference Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2009.
Spitzer, Robert. The Politics of Gun Control. 5th ed. Routledge, 2011.
Walters, Mark and Rob Pincus. Lessons from Unarmed America (Armed America Personal Defense Series, Volume 2). White Feathers Press, 2013.
Webster, Daniel. The Claims that Right-to-carry Laws Reduce Violent Crime are Unsubstantiated. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, 1997.
Webster, Daniel W. and Jon S. Vernick, eds. Reducing Gun Violence in America: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2013. (PDF Copy). [Webster, Daniel W. and Jon S. Vernick, eds. Updated Evidence and Policy Developments on Reducing Gun Violence in America. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2014. (PDF Copy).]
Wright, James D. and Peter H. Rossi. Armed and Considered Dangerous: A Survey of Felons and Their Firearms. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008.
Ziering, Franklin and Gordon Hawkins. “Concealed Handguns: The Counterfeit Deterrent.” The Responsive Community 7, no. 2 (1997): 46-60.
Second Amendment & Legal Jurisprudence
Adams, Les. The Second Amendment Primer: A Citizen’s Guidebook to the History, Sources, and Authorities for the Constitutional Guarantee of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2013.
Barton, David. The Second Amendment: Preserving the Inalienable Right of Individual Self-Protection. Aledo, TX: WallBuilder Press, 2000.
Cornell, Saul. A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origin of Gun Control in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Cornell, Saul. For the Defense of Themselves and the State: The Original Intent and Judicial Interpretation of the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. 2nd ed. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1994. (PDF Sample)
Doherty, Brian. Gun Control on Trial: Inside the Supreme Court Battle Over the Second Amendment. Washington, DC: Cato Institute, 2009.
**Erler, Edward J. “The Second Amendment as an Expression of First Principles.” Imprimis 42, no. 3 (March 2013): 1-7.
Halbrook, Stephen P. The Founders’ Second Amendment: Origins of the Right to Bear Arms (Independent Studies in Political Economy). Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2008.
Halbrook, Stephen P. That Every Man Be Armed: The Evolution of a Constitutional Right. Revised and Updated. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 2013. (1994 edition)
Hardy, David T. “Book Review: A Well-Regulated Militia: The Founding Fathers and the Origin of Gun Control in America.” William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal vol. 15, no. 4 (2007): 1237-1284.
Kates, Don B. “A Modern Historiography of the Second Amendment.” UCLA Law Review 56 (2009): 1211-1232.
Kates, Don B., et al. “Parker vs. District of Columbia Amicus Brief.”
Kopel, David B. and Maureen Martin. “ILEETA Amicus Brief.” 2008.
LaPierre, Wayne. The Essential Second Amendment Guide. Los Angeles, CA: WND Books, 2009
Winkler, Adam. Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2011.
Supreme Court Cases
- District of Columbia v. Heller Syllabus
- Justice Scalia’s Majority Opinion
- Justice Stevens’ Dissent
- Justice Breyer’s Dissent
Historical & International
Cramer, Clayton. Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
**Cramer, Clayton and Joseph Olson. “Pistols, Crime, and Public Safety in Early America.” Willamette Law Review (June 2008) (SSRN) (PDF)
Greenwood, Colin. Firearms Control: A Study of Armed Crime and Firearms Control in England and Wales. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1972.
Holbrook, Stephen P. Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State.” Oakland, CA: The Independent Institute, 2013.
**Malcolm, Joyce Lee. Guns and Violence: The English Experience. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004.
Malcolm, Joyce Lee. To Keep and Bear Arms: The Origins of an Anglo-American Right. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996.
Mental Illness & Suicide
Cutler, David M., Edward L. Glaeser, and Karen Norberg. “Explaining the Rise in Youth Suicide.” Harvard Institute of Economic Research Paper No. 1917. March 2001. [Addresses suicide more generally, but touches on gun suicides as well].
Gostin, Lawrence O. and Katherine L. Record. “Dangerous People or Dangerous Weapons: Access to Firearms for Persons with Mental Illness.” Journal of American Medical Association 305, no. 20 (2011): 2108-09.
**Volokh, Eugene. “Implementing the Right to Keep and Bear Arms for Self-Defense: An Analytical Framework and a Research Agenda.” UCLA Law Review 56 (2009): 1443-1549.
Opinion Pieces & Newspaper Articles
I’ve been selective in this section as I’ve chosen what I consider to be the very best and most accurate articles that cover the gun debate.
“Continued Bipartisan Support for Expanded Background Checks on Gun Sales.” Pew Research Center. August 13, 2015. (PDF)
Crime Prevention Research Center. “Murder and Homicide Rates Before and After Gun Bans.” CPRC.com. December 1, 2013.
Crime Prevention Research Center. “Comparing Murder Rates and Gun Ownership Across Countries.” CPRC.com. March 31, 2014.
Crime Prevention Research Center. “Comparing Death Rates From Mass Public Shootings and Mass Public Violence in the US and Europe.” CPRC.com. June 23, 2015.
Ehrenfreund, Max. “We’ve Had a Massive Decline in Gun Violence in the United States. Here’s Why.” Washington Post. December 3, 2015.
Epstein, Richard. “Will Banning Guns Prevent Another Aurora?” Hoover Institution, Defining Ideas. July 24, 2012.
Follman, Mark. “How Many Mass Shootings Are There, Really?” NYT.com. December 3, 2015.
Kessler, Glen. Fact Checker: “Obama’s Claim That ‘States With the Most Gun Laws Tend to Have the Fewest Gun Deaths.'” Washington Post. October 5, 2015.
Levy, Robert A. “Gun Control Measures Don’t Stop Violence.” Cato, CNN. January 2011.
Lott, John R. “Opinion Journal: Gun Control Fictions.” WSJ Video. October 5, 2015.
Lott, John R. “Why Hillary Clinton’s Gun Control Proposal is All Wrong.” FoxNews. October 5, 2015.
McGurn, William. “The Liberal Theology of Gun Control.” WSJ.com. December 7, 2015. [Locked Article]
McMaken, Ryan. “Gun Control Fails: What Happened in England, Ireland, and Canada.” von Mises.org. December 10, 2015.
McMaken, Ryan. “The Mistake of Only Comparing US Murder Rates to ‘Developed’ Countries.” von Mises.org. October 12, 2015.
Palazzolo, Joe and Alexis Flynn. “U.S. Leads World in Mass Shootings.” WSJ.com. October 5, 2015. [Locked Article]
Tuccille, J. D. “Do 3D Printers Make Prohibition Impossible?” Reason.com. July 30, 2012.
Volokh, Eugene. “Large-Capacity Magazines.” The Volokh Conspiracy. August 18, 2012.
Volokh, Eugene. “Do Civilians With Guns Ever Stop Mass Shootings?” Washington Post. October 3, 2015.
Volokh, Eugene. “Zero Correlation Between State Homicide Rate and State Gun Laws.” Washington Post. October 6, 2015.
Volokh, Eugene. “Okay, Let’s Regulate Guns Like Cars.” Foundation for Economic Education. October 15, 2015.
Volokh, Eugene. “Why Bans on So-Called ‘Assault Weapons’ Are Unlikely to Reduce Mass Shooting Deaths.” Washington Post. December 8, 2015.
Tankersley, Jim and Scott Clement. “What Gun Control Advocates Don’t Understand About Gun Owners.” Washington Post. December 3, 2015.
Woodman, John. “The Effects of Concealed Carry, and the Research of John Lott and Others – A Look At Both Sides.” Free Republic. March 18, 2002. [All the articles and resources on conceal carry debate are also linked here.]
Ben is a graduate of Denver Seminary, having completed a double MA in New Testament Biblical Studies and Christian Apologetics and Ethics. He will be pursuing a PhD in politics starting in fall 2019. He loves reading, drinking coffee, and hiking in the Colorado Rockies. His academic interests include biblical languages and exegesis, theology, philosophy, politics, and economics.