Roanoke College

Guns, Gun Control, and Elections: The Politics and Policy of Firearms


SALEM, VA— Dr. Harry Wilson, professor of political science at Roanoke College and director of the college’s Center for Community Research, is the author of a new book, Guns, Gun Control, and Elections: The Politics and Policy of Firearms (Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc, 2006).

Guns, Gun Control, and Elections, explains how current gun control policy was adopted by discussing the roles and interactions of elected officials, interest groups, political parties, and the citizens. By examining arguments for and against stricter gun control, Guns, Gun Control, and Elections helps the reader interpret and understand current research on guns and their uses and gun control.

The book provides insights into how the public perceives the issue of guns and gun control and how the issue is portrayed in the news media. In both instances, Wilson’s conclusions, based on his own research, differ to some degree from the conventional wisdom. For example, while the public tends to support various forms of gun control legislation, they hold out little hope that such laws will reduce gun violence. Coverage of the issue in the national news media tends to be mostly objective, but when there is a bias it is almost always in favor of gun control. While the National Rifle Association receives a great deal of attention in the news, its portrayal is much more likely to be negative than positive.

Wilson devotes a chapter of the book specifically to gun policy in the Commonwealth. A sabbatical in 2003 provided Wilson the time to attend several Virginia General Assembly sessions where he interviewed legislators and lobbyists. According to Wilson, because of Virginia’s proximity to the nation’s capital and the diversity of its citizens, and because it is home to the National Rifle Association, the state is in a position to influence national gun control policy.

Wilson views guns as “tools” that may be used for recreation, protection, or crime, with the purpose being defined by the gun’s owner. Self admittedly his conclusions lean towards arguments for gun rights; however, Wilson does not seek to influence the reader towards a particular side. Rather, his intent is to provide readers wide-ranging information regarding important debates surrounding gun control issues and the importance of its influence on policy making decisions. Guns, Gun Control, and Elections offers insight into the complexities of the issues and constituents that drive gun policy decisions. Wilson challenges the reader to think about the issues.

“A wonderful introduction to the far-reaching significance of fire-arms in America, Wilson’s work is a very good supplement for an Introduction to American Politics class” writes John M. Bruce, associate professor of political science, at the University of Mississippi.

Roanoke College, the country’s second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 270 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the “best in the Southeast.” Roanoke’s 1,900 students represent 41 states across the U.S. and 25 foreign countries.
For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.