A Matter of Facts: Gun Control

By Nancy Herther, Shanda Hunt, Alicia Kubas, and Karen Carmody-McIntosh

March on Washington for Gun Control. (Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

The story is, by now, familiar to everyone who keeps up with the news. On February 14, 2018 a school shooter armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle murdered 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Since then, students who survived the massacre have spoken out in support of gun control. Their tactics include an active social media presence, school walkouts, marches, and conversations with lawmakers. These actions — and the public support they have gained — have successfully kept the topic of gun control in the news for much longer than is typical after a school shooting occurs. A recent CNN poll of public opinion showed that 70 percent of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws.

This post is intended to provide links to reliable resources — peer-reviewed articles, government documents, and more — to help you better understand the issue.

Advocacy groups and U.S. politics

Although many countries have laws that limit people’s access to guns, in the United States, gun control is a topic that often appears controversial. The political momentum against gun control in the U.S. has been strong. Advocates for fewer regulations point to the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed” – and claim it supports citizens’ unrestricted access to firearms.

Firearms manufacturers profit from increased sales and their financial interests are served by increasing the market for guns and decreasing regulations. Advocacy groups such as the National Rifle Association represent the interests of both the firearms manufacturers and groups of American citizens who support unregulated access to guns.

In 1996, the NRA successfully lobbied for the Dickey Amendment, which says that federal funding to the Centers for Disease Control cannot be used “to advocate or promote gun control.” Critics of the Dickey Amendment claim that it has prevented researchers from investigating gun violence more broadly.

Public health advocacy groups, such as the American Public Health Association, advocate strongly for more research into gun violence and they are in favor of certain gun control laws, such as a ban on assault weapons.

Resources for research and understanding

Journal Articles

Freely Available Government Sources

Statistics/Research on Gun Violence

About the authors

Nancy Herther is librarian for Sociology, Anthropology, American Indian Studies, American Studies, Asian American Studies & Disability Studies

Shanda Hunt is librarian for Public Health and Data Curation Specialist

Alicia Kubas is librarian for Government Publications and the Regional Depository Librarian

Karen Carmody-McIntosh is a communications specialist in the University Libraries


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