xiii Preface In the United States, the topic of guns is one that appears to touch everyone in some way. Some people have grown up around guns that were used for hunting, while others have witnessed the devastating effects of firearm violence in their communities. Some see guns as a tool for sport, and oth- ers view them as a means of self-defense even still, some view them as weapons to harm others. Many people across the coun- try have direct, firsthand experience with guns for others, what they know is based on what they see and read about through the media. Inevitably, most find themselves on one of two sides of an extremely conten- tious debate about these weapons—pro-gun rights or pro-gun control. This polarized discourse is often grounded in emotion and personal experience rather than research and scholarship, largely because the latter is both vast in scope and contradictory at the same time. Guns in American Society: An Encyclo- pedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law is a three-volume set that can help anyone—whether a member of the public or a policy maker—tackle the broad array of topics that surround the gun debate. Now in its third edition, this encyclopedia is argu- ably the most comprehensive single source on this topic published to date. It approaches the subject matter from a multidisciplinary approach, drawing on research and exper- tise from scholars and practitioners in crim- inal justice, criminology, sociology, history, law, public health, and more. The set also covers a wide range of topics, including, but certainly not limited to, gun violence, gun control, gun rights, historical events, legis- lation, court decisions, gun organizations (both gun control and gun rights), and atti- tudes toward guns. With over 400 individual entries and several additional appendixes, this encyclopedia leaves no facet of this topic unexplored. At a time when gun violence in the United States is on the rise, it is even more impera- tive that discussions about how to combat this epidemic are grounded in research. Importantly, there are no easy answers or quick fixes. This is a complex, multifaceted, and dynamic problem that requires a com- prehensive foundation from which to build policy and responses. Guns in American Society provides that base of information. Importantly, the articles in the encyclopedia are neither for nor against gun control or gun rights. Instead, they offer an objective look at different dimensions of firearms in American society and allow readers to draw their own conclusions by having the needed information from both sides and being able to find common ground between these dif- fering perspectives.
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