Gun studies and the politics of evidence

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


This review is about scholarly contributions to a hotly debated issue-gun policy. Teasing apart the politics of evidence within gun politics, it examines both how research agendas shape gun policy and politics as well as how gun policy and politics shape research agendas. To do so, the article maps out two waves of gun research, Gun Studies 1.0 and Gun Studies 2.0. Gun Studies 1.0 emphasizes scientific evidence as a foundation for generating consensus about public policy, and it includes criminological studies aimed at addressing guns as criminogenic tools, public health work aimed at addressing guns as public health problems, and jurisprudential scholarship aimed at adjudicating guns as legal objects. Reviewing how these approaches incited popular debates and public policies that, in turn, shaped subsequent conditions of gun scholarship, the article then turns to Gun Studies 2.0. Instead of taking evidence as self-evident, this body of scholarship tends to prioritize the meaning-making processes that make meaningful-or not-evidence surrounding gun policy. Accordingly, Gun Studies 2.0 unravels the political and cultural conditions of the contemporary US gun debate and broadens inquiries into gun harm and gun security. In addition to discussing areas for future study, this study concludes by encouraging gun researchers to attend to the politics of evidence as they mobilize scholarship not just to inform the gun debate but also to transform it.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-202
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Law and Social Science
StatePublished - Oct 13 2020


  • Firearms
  • Gun culture
  • Gun politics
  • Gun violence
  • Second Amendment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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