Presented in the Deviance and
Control: Quantitative Studies session of the American
Sociological Association 89th Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, 5
Sex and Guns: Is Gun Control Male Control?(1)
H. Taylor Buckner (2)
Concordia University (3)
Three surveys of Concordia University undergraduate students are used to explore the motivations for supporting gun control. The first, a representative sample (n=900) taken in 1993 questioned students on gun control, sexual attitudes, attitudes towards homosexuals, drinking and drugs. It showed that students who were pro gun control were also pro homosexual, pro censorship of pornography, and not experienced with guns. The second study, a non representative (n=180) sentence completion survey revealed more complex patterns, and allowed the development of questions for the third study. The third study, a representative sample (n=780) taken in 1994 showed that men and women have different patterns of motivation for being pro gun control. The men who favor gun control are those who reject traditional male roles and behavior. They are opposed to hunting, are pro homosexual, do not have any experience with or knowledge of guns and tend to have "politically correct" attitudes. The women who support gun control do so in the context of controlling male violence and sexuality. Gun control is thus symbolic of a realignment of the relation between the sexes.
In public opinion surveys women are generally more favorable
to gun control than men. Why is this so? More generally, why is
anyone in favor of gun control? Is there a rational basis for gun
control, or is it an emotional and symbolic issue in which gun
control is a part of other symbolic conflicts, such as the
relation between the sexes? While the public has been polled on
gun control issues quite frequently, the analysis has rarely gone
beyond descriptive cross tabulations leaving these more
fundamental questions unexamined. Using the results of three
studies carried out in a Canadian university some of these
questions can be answered.
Guns and Women
On December 6, 1989, Marc Lepine, a rejected applicant,
entered the Ecole Polytechnique (the engineering school of the
University of Montreal), and, saying "you are all
feminists," murdered 14 women, then committed suicide. He
used a semi-automatic hunting rifle, with a 30 round magazine.
This shooting gave added impetus to proposed gun control
legislation (Lewis 1989). It also
made gun control, and large capacity magazines a women's issue.
As Mary Collins, federal women's minister at the time said:
"The events that took place in Montreal are reflective of
the same kind of violence that destroys the lives of so many
women in Canada every day, in their homes, on the street and at
work." "She said the true number of female victims of
violence may never be known, but cited statistics she said reveal
a 'shocking picture' in Canada: Eighty percent of native women
have been abused or assaulted. One in four women will be sexually
assaulted in their lives, most by people they know. At least one
woman in 10 is battered by her male partner." "Men
often have a "feeling of omnipotence...that they have to
control women and control can also be exercised through violence
Heidi Rathjen, Executive Director of the Coalition for Gun
control, told the Status of Women Committee,
"she believed Ecole Polytechnique was the target for the
massacre because it is so progressive in its treatment of female
students. 'The nature of this act was very similar to family
violence,' Rathjen said. 'How is this murderer different from any
husband who kills his wife rather than letting her leave and
control her own life, or from a man who is unhappy and blames,
denigrates and regards with contempt everything female around
him?'" (Wills 1991)
Later, Collins, at the time Associate Minister of National
Defense and Minister Responsible for Status of Women, testifying
before another Parliamentary Committee, said,
"Any diminution of the regulations with respect to
magazine capacity I think would certainly be a betrayal,
particularly to those women [the 48 a year she said are killed
with guns] and many of those who were involved at Ecole
Polytechnique, who were so much involved with this issue. It
would be a betrayal to the trust that I think we have to them (Collins 1992:45)."
Most of the points made by Collins and Rathjen have little to
do with guns, but illustrate the way in which guns have become
symbolic of violence against women. Magazine capacity may, or may
not, have been important at Ecole Polytechnique, but plays little
role in domestic homicides which are generally accomplished with
one or two shots.
Guns and Men
Canadian men are much more likely to own guns (82% of owners)
than Canadian women (18%) (Reid 1991:6).
Statistically, men are almost twice as likely to be murdered as
women. In 1991, for example, "Consistent with other years,
64% of all victims of homicide were male and 36% were female. (Wright, Christine 1992:10)"
The 1990 homicide rate was 4.0 per 100,000 for men, and 1.9 per
100,000 for women. Over the period 1981 to 1990 36%, of male
homicides were committed with firearms, and 30% of female
homicides. Thus the male firearms homicide rate is about 1.44 per
100,000, the female firearms homicide rate is about 0.57 per
100,000. Men are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by a gun than
women in Canada (Trevethan
In her Doctoral thesis, Special Objects: A Study of the Meaning of Things, Martha Anne Oury found that men mentioned guns as liked objects in associations with people (p. 93). She found the following differences in patterns of liked objects between men and women: "Where she is more interested in stuffed animals, dolls, jewelry, clothes, personal printed material, souvenirs, and furniture, he is interested in guns and sports. (all differences p < .05) (p. 231).
Owen (1991) examined, in a small experiment with
undergraduates and a larger replication in the community, the
impact that gun ownership had on the social inferences that
people made about women and men. They found that: "Female
handgun owners were perceived as resembling stereotypic
conceptions of males. Women with handguns were perceived as
gaining stereotypically male physical attributes, stereotypically
male positive traits, and stereotypically male low status roles
(p. 1575)." "Handgun ownership often did not influence
judgments of male targets at all; although when it did, it tended
to less positive impressions (p. 1576)." "Both men and
women are similarly viewed as less likable when they own a gun
Although political conservatism and liberalism have not been
found to be related to attitudes on gun control, once gun
ownership and hunting have been taken into account (Kleck 1991:373), I thought, at the
beginning, given the nature of the recent debate, that perhaps
sexual conservatism or liberalism might influence attitudes
towards gun control.
Gun control is a "motherhood issue." Essentially
everyone supports some form of gun control (Wright,
Rossi and Daly, 1983:232). There may be a few anarchists and
"mountain men" who would argue for no controls at all,
but everyone else, gun owners included, wants to keep guns out of
the hands of anarchists, criminals, unsupervised children and
psychopaths. The issue is not terribly salient for most people,
when they are asked in a poll whether guns should be more
restricted most answer, essentially, "why not? (Wright,
et. al.:232)" Most people know very little about
existing firearms laws (Wright,
et. al.:232), so when a poll asks, usually after a
dramatic incident (Kukla,
1973:260; Kleck, 1991:368), if there
should be more laws an overwhelming majority says yes. What the
public is saying is that "something" should be done.
What, exactly, should be done is open to argument. Given the lack
of knowledge, and the high level of emotionalism involved, many
symbolic issues become part of the discussion.
Proponents of more gun control tend to be moral entrepreneurs
(Becker 1963) engaged in a
symbolic crusade (Gusfield
1963). They see evil and want to pass laws to prohibit it. John Kaplan (1979, 6) noted that, "Many
people simply believe that, regardless of any utilitarian
calculus, it is wrong for people to behave in certain ways and
that the law should reflect this." Pro control advocates
cite horrific victimizations and studies on the danger of guns.
Opponents of additional gun control tend to have a fortress
mentality, because they have something to lose. They cite civil
and property rights, failures of similar controls, successful
deterrence of aggressors, and studies showing that guns deter
crime. The two extremes tend to operate in separate symbolic
universes (Berger and Luckmann 1966),
objectifying events within different structures of legitimation.
Daniels wrote, "...even irrefutable data would likely not
convince some people to change their positions (Daniels et. al.
Since facts and their interpretations are disputed, the
argument tends to become ad hominem rather quickly. The
gun control argument has been characterized as a "stigma
contest" (Kleck 1991:376). Kaplan noted, "... many people who
do not own guns stigmatize gun owners as 'gun nuts'; they are
red-necks, violent, anti-intellectual, racist, reactionary and
dangerous.(1979:6)" Gun control advocates are characterized
(Haluschak 1993:27) as,
"know-it-alls,...'it's for your own good' social engineers,
... yammering, screeching, left-libber and politically correct
doinks..." In spite of the intemperate language, the
stereotypes that each side has of the other may contain elements
The only psychological research that has been done, a small
study by Diener
and Kerber (1979) found that gun owners did not exhibit
atypical personality characteristics compared with non gun owners
and national norms of the California Personality Inventory (p.
227). Given that between 23% and 31% of Canadian households have
guns (Reid 1991; Mauser & Margolis 1992:193)
one would have to have a very broad definition of psychological
problems to assert that all gun owners are abnormal.
Canadian Gun control Laws
Canada already has some of the strictest gun control laws in
the world. The Criminal Code of Canada has required a police
permit for a pistol outside of home or place of business since
1892 (4), a police permit to buy a handgun since
1913 (5), registration of all handguns wherever
kept since 1934 (6), and a Central Registry
under the Commissioner of the R.C.M.P. since 1951 (7)
Since 1978 anyone wishing to purchase a firearm of any type, or an air-gun capable of a muzzle velocity exceeding 152.4 meters (500 feet) per second, has had to first obtain a Firearms Acquisition Certificate. With the changes adopted in 1992, this requires that the applicant complete a full-day safety course, fill out a detailed four page multi-copy application, answer 35 questions on criminal record, alcohol or drug abuse, whether they have been reported to the police or social services for violence or conflict in the home, whether there has been a divorce or separation, a failure in school, or a loss of a job or bankruptcy; supply two photographs; two witnesses' signatures (Quebec requires four additional references, from: spouse, employer, colleague and neighbor); and a certified check for $50.00. The police then proceed to do a criminal record check and carry out such interviews with referees and others as seem warranted. The processing time, while a minimum of 28 days is specified, seems to be around three months. In sum, it takes longer, and requires more training, paperwork and investigation, for a Canadian to buy a pellet gun than it does for an American to legally buy a machine gun.
There are four reasons in the law a Canadian may own a
handgun: To protect life (rarely given), for a lawful occupation
(e.g., security guard), for a collection (many
requirements, must be stored in a safe, police may visit to
inspect, etc.), and for target practice (8). In
order to get a pistol for target practice the owner must have the
Firearms Acquisition Certificate, join a pistol shooting club,
take a pistol safety course, apply for a permit which allows them
to carry their pistol from home to club, locked and unloaded, in
a locked box. In Quebec, (other provinces may vary) the applicant
for a carry (to club) permit must produce six letters of
reference from their employer, spouse, two neighbors, someone who
has known them for five years and the President or Secretary of a
gun club, in addition to the six required for the original
Firearms Acquisition Permit. The police then carry out a records
check before issuing this carry (to club) permit. Every year
those who have a permit for target practice have to reapply to
the police to renew the carry (to club) permit. In addition,
before picking up the gun from the store, they have to apply for
registration of the gun, which involves other forms, a police
records check, and a wait which seems to average between three
and six months. When the Registration Certificate and the Carry
(to club) permit have been received, they next apply for a
Transport permit which allows them to take the gun, locked in a
locked box, from the store to their home where it must be stored
double locked or in a safe. Anyone in possession of a handgun
illegally is subject to a maximum five year prison sentence. They
have to have another permit from the police to take their gun to
a gunsmith, or to a gun show to sell it. Figure
1 shows the necessary steps in a somewhat simplified form. In
general, there is not enough violent crime or civil disorder in
Canada for the ordinary citizen to go through all of this to
purchase a handgun for protection, as is sometimes true in the
U.S. (McDowall and
Loftin, 1973; Smith and Uchida,
Bordua and White 1981).
Most Canadians are unfamiliar with firearms laws, and many
think you can walk into a store, buy a pistol and walk out.
Figure 1 It takes two full-day safety courses, three separate police investigations, numerous forms, twelve letters of reference, and about a year's wait to purchase a pistol for target shooting in Quebec, Canada.
Starting in 1993 regulations, which are part of the 1992 law,
prohibit magazines for semi-automatic rifles and shotguns that
contain more than five cartridges, and pistol magazines that
contain more than 10 cartridges; it applies retroactively to all
existing centerfire guns (9). A survey of 15
gunsmiths in 5 Provinces across Canada, carried out in
mid-September 1993 revealed that only registered owners, not a
single criminal, had come in to have their magazines altered to
comply with the law (10). This is not a
surprise - it illustrates the maxim that laws only affect the
Figure 2 Homicides in Canada, 1961 to 1990, by method. Less than 1% are committed with legally registered handguns, 10% to 17% with illegal, unregistered, mostly smuggled, handguns.
Statistics Canada did a special tabulation for me of their
Homicide database. In the thirty years between 1961 and 1990
there were 15,101 homicides in Canada, as Figure 2 shows. Of
these 108, or 0.72%, fewer than four per year, were committed
with registered handguns.
There are about five fatal accidents a year caused by both
legal and illegal handguns (Three in 1990, Statistics
Canada, Causes of Death, 1990:168, 4 in 1991), and about 43
suicides with both legal and illegal handguns. Five people a year
are killed by lightning.
The R.C.M.P. reports that 1,054,625 restricted weapons (almost all handguns) were registered in Canada in 1991 (R.C.M.P., 1992). Annually, from 1983 to 1992, an average of 1,169 registered restricted weapons were listed as lost, missing or stolen, an annual average of 0.12% of the total, roughly 1 in 900 (R.C.M.P, 1983 to 1992) (11). Obviously, these do not all end up in criminal hands.
In Canada criminals do not apply for permits (Scarff, 1981, 86).
The principal source of handguns used for criminal purposes in
Canada are states in the U.S. that have few requirements. A
recent study in Ontario, Project Gunrunner, found that 86% of
handguns seized from criminals had been smuggled in from the
United States and never registered in Canada (Dreschel). To a very large extent
there are now two markets, the legal market and the illegal
market, with little overlap. The illegal market is unlikely to be
further reduced by more laws, as it is already operating outside
the existing laws. In the black market, factors such as gang
conflicts and protecting drug franchises are much more important
than laws. Murray (1975)
concluded that gun control laws have no significant effect on
rates of violence. While this may, or may not be true,
prohibiting guns that are already illegal is not likely to change
the situation much. The Chair of the Legislation Committee of the
Canadian Police Association testified before the Committee on
"If they (criminals) want a hot gun they will buy it.
They don't have to go far to get it. They can go to Buffalo. They
can go to New York. They can go to North Dakota, or wherever they
have to go to get it. They will get it (Jessop,
This is similar to Wright and Rossi's
(1986:185) finding that only 16% of U.S. felons purchased their
guns from stores, the rest were obtained on the black market or
by theft. There may be, somewhere in Canada, a criminal who had
no record, went through the application and investigation
process, waited several months to pick up his gun, and then used
his own gun in a crime, but he surely does not have much company.
Canadians are inundated with news of American firearms crimes.
When asked, many assume that the same pattern exists in Canada.
In fact, the American firearms homicide rate, 5 per 100,00 is 5
times the Canadian rate of 1 per 100,000, the American firearms
robbery rate of around 80 per 100,000 is over three times the
Canadian rate of 25 per 100,000, and the overall American
homicide rate, around 10 per 100,000, is roughly four times the
Canadian average of around 2.5 per 100,000 (Wolff, et.
al., 1991). Not only the Canadian rates, but the actual
numbers have been declining since 1975, (though there was an
increase of firearms homicides in 1990 and 1991 and a slight
decline in 1992 the rates are still not as high as in 1975).
Before jumping to the conclusion that Canada's strict gun
control causes the difference in homicide rates consider that the
U.S. non-firearms homicide rate, roughly 4 per 100,000, is
about 2.4 times higher than the Canadian non-firearms
homicide rate of about 1.7 per 100,000. Differences in gun
control aside, the U.S. has population groups that have extremely
high rates of homicide. Canada, aside from the aboriginal
population (3% of the population, around 20% of the homicides),
does not have this problem to anything like the same extent.
In spite of a rise in violent crime rates, the rates of
firearms crime fell in Canada over the 15 year period from 1975
"Based on police-reported data, between 1975 and 1989,
the violent crime rate increased by 59%, from 597 to 948
incidents per 100,000." "In the violent crimes homicide
and robbery, firearms use declined. Between 1975 and 1989, the
number of 'firearms homicides' declined 25%, from 292 to 218
incidents. Similarly, the number of 'firearms robberies'
decreased 28%, from 8,962 to 6,441 incidents. (Wolff, et.
One consequence of Canadian gun control law is a higher break
and entry rate in Canada. "From 1982 to 1990, Canada's
B&E rate has been higher than that of the U.S. with 1,426
B&Es per 100,000 population in 1990 (Fedorowycz 1992:4)." Canadian
burglars, knowing householders are unarmed, are much more willing
to break into occupied premises than U.S. burglars, with a
corresponding increase in confrontations (Waller and Okihiro 1978:31)
Overall, the Canadian experience is quite different from the
American experience, but few Canadians realize just how different
it is. Handguns are used in the majority of American homicides,
but in just over 10% of Canadian homicides. Asking students in
class (and in the 1994 Survey) what percentage of homicides in
Canada were committed with handguns results in estimates that
average around 66%. Many Canadians thus appear to form their
opinions on firearms control based on what is happening in the
United States rather than what is happening in Canada.
Out of over 1,000 articles on firearms appearing in the
Canadian print media between 1988 and 1993 listed in the Canadian
Business and Public Affairs database, only one, in the mainstream
press, an article on a champion female trap shooter, showed the
use of guns in sport. (According to Kopel
(1989) the U.S. media is not very different.) Given this
pervasive media treatment of firearms and U.S. murders, along
with ignorance about their own laws, it is not surprising that
Canadians feel the need for "more" gun control.
On August 24, 1992, four professors at Concordia University,
in Montreal, all male, were murdered by Valery Fabrikant, an
engineering professor, using three legally acquired handguns
(none with large capacity magazines, two of which were registered
to his wife) (12). The Rector of the University
responded by launching a petition (13), placed
under a poster which said, "please sign in memory of our
late colleagues and of all victims of violence." (14)
"The undersigned call on the Parliament of Canada to
enact immediately laws prohibiting anyone in Canadian territory
from having in their possession any handgun, with the exception
of members of the Canadian Armed Forces and Law Enforcement
Officers for the purpose of their duties."
In March of 1994 this petition, with 200,000 (of the 500,000
originally intended) signatures was presented to Parliament by
the Rector. (15)
The potential benefit of such a law, given the strict laws
already in place, is the saving of some of the four lives a year
lost to legal handguns, and some reduction in the five accidental
deaths and 43 suicides per year. The potential cost in human life
of disarming security guards and store owners is incalculable,
but would probably more than offset the potential gains. Some
might also be concerned about the seizure of approximately 500
million dollars worth of legally acquired property from people
who have been certified at least three times to be law abiding.
However, as Kaplan noted (p. 7),
some people "conclude that the law should make a moral
statement against the particular behavior, whatever the
This paper is based on three studies. The first was a survey
(The 1993 Concordia Student Survey) which questioned 900 students
in February and March of 1993, the second a sentence completion
study with 180 respondents carried out in November 1993, and the
third (The 1994 Concordia Student Survey) which questioned 780
students in February and March of 1994.
Starting in 1985 the students in my research methods courses
have carried out surveys of the undergraduate population at
Concordia University as part of their course work.
Each year the students in the Research Design and Analysis
course choose the topics they wish to research and develop the
questions they wish to ask. In almost all cases these are
questions that have been asked in other surveys of university
students, at Concordia or elsewhere, so comparisons are possible.
Generally five or six different topics are included in the
questionnaire, each with five to ten questions. The 1987 survey
was on social problems: alcohol, drugs, pornography, and
homosexuality. The 1990 study was on student services: Health,
Ombuds, Computer Services, Disabled Services, Legal Services,
Mature Student Services, etc. The 1992 survey was on factors
related to academic success. Two sections of the survey are
relatively constant, the background questions (so year to year
comparisons are possible) and questions on utilization of the
university's computers. (16)
The 1993 survey contained sections on: computer usage;
substance use (all from the 1987 survey); sex and AIDS;
homosexuality (many from the 1987 survey); gun control; and the
standard background questions, for a total of 66 questions.
Comparison with the 1987 survey showed that the percentage
smoking and drinking had not changed, the use of hashish or
marijuana and cocaine had dropped slightly, and attitudes toward
homosexuals have become significantly more positive.
The 1994 survey concentrated on questions of gun control,
womens' issues, homosexuality and political correctness. Many of
the questions for this survey were developed from responses to a
smaller sentence completion study carried out in the Fall of
The sentence completion survey used a quota sample, intended
to get a range of roughly representative opinions. Each student
carried out six interviews and was asked to fill the following
quotas: 3 interviews with men, 3 interviews with women; 2
interviews with Concordia students (not in the class) 1 from the
Faculty of Arts & Science, 1 from one of the other faculties
(Engineering, Commerce, Fine Arts); 4 interviews with
non-students, 1 interview with someone who owns a gun, 1
interview with someone who grew up in a rural background. In
addition I passed the form out in an Introductory Sociology
course and received 60 replies. A total of 180 usable interviews
The questionnaire asked for open ended responses to the
question "When I think about ______, I think..." The
respondents were then asked to check whether, overall, they were
favorable, neutral or unfavorable to the subject in question, and
to answer some basic background questions. Fifteen topics were
raised: Vegetarians, Meat-Eaters, Feminists, Racists, Native
Canadians, Gay Men, Lesbians, Gun Clubs, Hunters, Pistols, Sexual
Harassment, Cigarettes, Marijuana, Pornography and
Anti-Abortionists. The verbatim responses were entered into a
computer file, along with codes for favorability, sex, age, etc.
The responses were then sorted by topic, sex of the respondent,
and favorability to the topic. Two of the 15 questions will be
noted here, the ones which asked about "Gun Clubs," and
"Hunters." Given the sampling procedure, this data can
only be used to give an insight into the range of opinions, not
to represent the opinions of any known population.
Sample Design and Execution of the Concordia Student Survey
In 1986, 1987, 1990, 1991, 1993 and 1994 the samples have been
representative of the undergraduate population of Concordia. (17) The number of students in the representative
samples was: 722 in 1986; 550 in 1987; 754 in 1990; 715 in 1991;
900 in 1993; and 780 in 1994. The same sampling method was used
for all the representative samples.
Students were sampled using an intrinsically stratified
systematic cluster sample of classes, with the probability of
final cluster selection proportional to the registration in the
class. Specifically, a listing of all courses being given at
Concordia, with their actual registration totals, was obtained
from the Registrar. These lists were organized by Faculty and
Department, which provided the intrinsic stratification, and were
over 300 pages long. From a random starting page every tenth page
was systematically selected. On each selected page a cumulative
total of the actual number of students registered in full-year
and second term courses (as the surveys were carried out in
January and February) was calculated. A random number, from a
table, was then used to select one of the courses. To select
alternates, in case of refusal by the course instructor, the page
was turned over and the same procedure followed with the courses
listed on the back of the page.
The instructors of the selected courses, or alternates if
necessary, were contacted and a date was set for questionnaire
administration. Generally, to avoid disrupting classes, the
questionnaire was administered in the last 15 or 20 minutes of
the class so students could finish on their own time if
necessary. In the 1993 sample the questionnaire was successfully
administered in 32 of the 34 selected classes, in 1994, 42 of 44
(18). A very small number of students refused
to fill out the questionnaire, the principal loss being students
who did not attend class that day. The only significant bias
introduced by not getting the replies of those who were not
attending class is that failing students are somewhat under
After a training session in the Research Design and Analysis
class, teams of two students went to the selected classes, read
the instructions aloud, and passed out the questionnaires. The
sampled students were told that the questionnaires were
confidential and anonymous, that only statistical results would
be reported, that they were free to refuse to fill out the
questionnaire, and that they could quit at any time. As they
finished, the questionnaires were put in a large
"Confidential" envelope. A student from the class was
asked to volunteer to seal and sign the envelope, along with the
Research Design students, and to accompany them to the security
desk to put the envelope in the internal mail. The envelopes were
returned to me. I opened the envelopes, edited the questionnaires
to eliminate obviously falsified questionnaires, double answers,
inappropriate responses to contingency questions, and to code
missing responses as missing. The questionnaires were then
numbered, gathered in packages of 40, each package given to two
Research Design students who entered the data into a computer
file and verified them. A random sample of 10% were then verified
again by my Teaching Assistant. The entire data set was assembled
and "possible code" and "contingency
cleaning" was carried out.
If the Concordia Student Survey used simple random sampling it
would be accurate within plus or minus 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.
As it is a cluster sample, certain variables related to the
clusters, none of which are used in this analysis, have a higher
margin of error. These would include the students' majors, for
example. If the sample happens to include a large advanced class
in, say, computer engineering, and not include a class in civil
engineering, civil engineering students will be under
Because a number of questions have been asked in all the
representative surveys it is possible to assess the reliability
of this sampling method. For questions such as satisfaction with
the university's computers; age; sex; sexual orientation; sexual
harassment; marital status; language spoken at home; religion;
ethnic background; race; socioeconomic status; and grades, that
have been asked in at least five of the six representative
surveys, the maximum spread in responses is 6%, and most of the
samples are within 2 or 3% of one another on these questions. On
the basis of these results I conclude that this sampling design
produces reliable data.
This sample represents a single, unique, university. Concordia
has Downtown and Suburban Campuses, a large percentage of mature
students, a third of its students are in evening courses, a large
percentage of the students are first generation Canadians, just
12% of the students are unilingual. These results cannot be
generalized to a wider population.
Once the questionnaires have been entered, verified and
cleaned, I produce a Code Book for the students with the
percentage results for all questions, comparisons with questions
asked in other surveys, the SPSS command file, and a factor
analysis that includes all the questions in the questionnaire.
The factor analysis is used simply as a first indicator of
patterns of questions that are associated with one another. It is
included to help students plan their analysis and to see if there
are questions asked by other students that might be related to
their topic. With this code book in hand, the students proceed to
analyze the data, write a first draft and a final report on their
topics. In the 1993 study this factor analysis gave the first
hint that attitudes towards gun control might be influenced by
attitudes towards other issues, specifically, in this case,
homosexuality and pornography.
Analysis of the 1993 Survey
The three variables that emerged from cross
tabular analysis of the 1993 study as being important for having
pro gun control values, CRUSADE, were PROHO, having attitudes
favorable toward homosexuals, CENSOR, restricting the sale of
sexually explicit material, and EXPERGUN, in this case having no
experience with guns at all, as the following graph and table
|Percent of Respondents Who Have Pro Gun control Values (CRUSADE), by PROHO, by CENSOR, by EXPERGUN. 1993 Concordia Student Survey.|
|Low PROHO||High PROHO|
|Not CENSOR||CENSOR||Not CENSOR||CENSOR|
|None||41.9% (148)||55.4% (92)||57.3% (171)||72.7% (66)|
|Any||22.5% (151)||39.2% (74)||45.3% (161)||70.8% (48)|
All of the differences, except in the last column, are
significant (Chi Square p < .05).
Figure 3 The three major factors influencing attitudes toward gun control in the 1993 Concordia Student Survey.
A multiple regression analysis was carried out which resulted in the path diagram in Figure 4.
Figure 4 The major influences leading to Pro Gun Control Attitudes in the 1993 Concordia Student Survey.
The most important predictor of pro gun control attitudes was
the student's positive attitude toward homosexuals; followed by
having no experience with guns; followed by wanting to restrict
the sale of sexually explicit materials. Older students, and
those from non-urban (mostly small town) backgrounds were
slightly more pro control.
Pro homosexual attitudes (PROHO) were strongest amongst: the
sexually liberal; women; those who had no religion; students in
the humanities and social sciences; those who smoke marijuana or
hashish; those who have dreamed of having sex with the same sex;
those who have a homosexual orientation; and those who do not use
cocaine (very few Concordia students do). People who scored high
on the PROHO index favored gun control.
The desire to restrict the sale of sexually explicit materials
(CENSOR) was strongest amongst: the sexually conservative; older
students; women; non-drinkers; those whose philosophy of sex
emphasized marriage; and students in science programs. Students
who favored censorship favored gun control.
Having experience with guns (EXPERGUN) was strongest amongst:
males; those who drink; those from a non-urban (mostly rural)
background; and those from a higher socioeconomic status
background. Students who had any experience with guns did not
have particularly pro gun control attitudes. Conversely, as shown
in the path diagram, having no experience with guns (NOEXGUN) was
highest among females; non-drinkers; those with an urban
background; and those from a slightly lower than average
socioeconomic background. Those with no experience with guns
favored gun control strongly. (See Wright and
Marston (1975:104) for a similar finding.)
Sexual conservatism or liberalism, though important, was not
related directly to pro gun control attitudes, because sexual
liberals were pro homosexual and sexual conservatives were pro
censorship, canceling out a direct relationship.
It became obvious during this analysis that there were
numerous other factors which should be examined. The strong
influence of attitudes toward homosexuals was particularly
suspect - could it be a proxy for other unasked questions?
In order to develop questions for the 1994 Concordia Student
Survey the responses to the sentence completion study were
examined, with a particular focus on those who had a negative
attitude toward gun clubs, hunting and pistols. Here are some of
When I think of Gun Clubs, I think... (female, unfavorable)
It is ridiculous, and provokes people to get aggressive.
People who seek power/control. Unstable personalities. No guns
whatsoever should be allowed anywhere. Of killing & death. Of
aggression. Promoters of violence. That they should eliminate
them. Boys trying to prove their value. Men (or women) may be
brought up with violence, that violence solves problems. Stupid,
stupid, stupid. Oh horrible. Irresponsible. Ridiculous. Of
cannibalism, because guns are frightening and I simply do not
like them. It's stupid and dummy they should all be closed
down. I've never been to any of them but I think it's too
dangerous and they are noisy. Dangerous, they should be
eliminated. I am totally against those clubs, first of all guns
should not exist, only purpose is killing people and animals. I
dislike them because they promote the use and distribution of
firearms. I don't understand why they like to use guns. Of clubs
where members are far too concerned with guns, no one should like
guns so much. Of violence people getting hurt. Violent men
with a violent pastime. Scary people doing scary stuff; guns
scare me; I think they shouldn't have them. Men collected there
to show off their strength and women who go along with it. Of
heartless men and wonder about why they attend those clubs; I
hate gun clubs. Fear, unacceptable activity. Men who have
something to prove by acting "macho." They are
dangerous to society and to themselves. Masochistic people who
have to live their lives behind a gun in fear. Kinky, weird
people. Ignorance, uneducated. Power through sick minds.
Violence. There shouldn't be.
The average target shooter might be excused if he considered
these responses not firmly grounded in reality. They appear to be
examples of the "stigma contest." From these replies a
question was developed which asked about "macho"
behavior. "Men should be more sensitive, less 'macho,' in
their relationships with women." (NOMACHO)
When I think about Hunters, I think... (male, unfavorable)
Grrr... I HATE hunting despicable. Not really concerned
with wildlife. Devilish fiends hunting animals for fun! Sick
games!! As long as they use every part of the animal, fine.
Ignorant. Hunting for pleasure, one of the last barbarian
practice of this selfcalled "modern society." Dumb
dumb dumb. People with nothing better to do but to kill innocent
animals for fun. Of gun clubs and testosterone. Killing helpless
animals just for sport is stupid. They're a different breed.
Idiots. Shoot at anything that moves. Shooting on private
property. I think of businessmen hunting animals just for their
skins and furs. People who have rights which Native Canadians
should have. They are repulsive for the fact that they are
killing innocent animals for sport. They have no control in their
own lives and pick on poor defenceless animals. The hunter's
mentality is sadistic. A sport that promotes cruelty to animals.
We don't need the food so it's just a means of obtaining
prestige. I don't think people should hunt animals unless they
live in the woods. Of people who kill animals for the fun of it
for the sake of killing. I'm not for hunters, I'd rather they
shoot each other, unless it's for survival. It is against my
religion to hunt. Cold hearted individuals. People can survive
without killing nature's wildlife. Once animals are gone they
can't be brought back. For native hunters it is OK; all other
hunters do it for the thrill of killing which is bad &
unnecessary. Inferiority complex in people. It makes me sick.
Cruel, heartless men who kill for sport. People who have no
respect for the environment and who shoot for the pleasure of
shooting. Of men killing innocent animals, but I guess I'm no
better since I eat them. Of people who are cruel to animals.
People of low intelligence. Needless. Violence.
Based on the tone of these replies, which would stun most
hunters, four questions were included, taken from a 1993 Los
Angeles Times Poll (19). "Do you think
laws protecting animals from inhumane treatment in our society go
too far, don't go far enough, or are adequate now?" (HUMANE)
"Do you agree or disagree with the following statement:
'Animals are just like humans in all important ways.'"
(ANIMHUM) "Do you generally favor or oppose the wearing of
clothes made of animal furs?" (NOFUR) "Do you generally
favor or oppose the hunting of animals for sport?"
(HUNTSPT). NOFUR and HUNTSPT were combined to create ANTIHUNT.
Other sentence completion replies led to the inclusion of
questions on gender roles, environmental issues, free speech,
abortion, native issues and so forth. For each of these questions
the lead-in was, "Here are a number of statements which have
been made in recent years. Please indicate whether you agree or
disagree with each by circling the appropriate number. The
response categories were Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral,
Disagree, and Strongly Disagree. Some of these are:
"Women should be allowed an active combat role in the
Canadian Armed Forces."(WMCOMBAT) "Men should be
expected to protect the women in their lives from
violence."(PROTECT) "Women were happier in the 1950s
when they stayed home and took care of their families than they
are now trying to balance career and family."(WOMEN50S)
"It is primarily the man's obligation to provide for the
family."(PROVIDE) "Over half of all Canadian women have
been abused by men."(WMABUSED) "A woman who wants to
have an abortion should have the right to one, no questions
"The sale and possession of all sexually explicit
materials showing nude people should be prohibited in
Canada."(NO-NUDE) (20) This is in addition
to the question used in 1986, 1987, and 1993, "Do you think
the sale of sexually explicit material in Montreal should be,
More restricted, Kept the same, Not as restricted, Don't
"A person who states that different races of humans have
different levels of intelligence should be allowed to give a
public lecture on this topic at Concordia."(TALKRACE)
"A person representing Right to Life, which opposes the
right to abortions, should be allowed to give a public lecture on
this topic at Concordia."(TALKRTL) "A person who
believes that the Holocaust never happened, that the Nazis didn't
murder millions of Jews, should be allowed give a public lecture
on this topic at Concordia."(TALKHOLO) These three were
combined to create FREESPCH.
To assess the extent to which gun control has become a womens'
issue, "Stricter gun control would greatly reduce the level
of violence against women in Canada."(GUNVIOL)
Canada has not imposed the death penalty for over thirty
years, and has not had it for almost twenty years. Still,
according to polls, the majority of Canadians favor it. In order
to see if attitudes toward the death penalty were related to
attitudes toward gun control the following question was asked
(from Vidmar 1973): "Which of
the following four alternatives best describes your attitude
toward the death penalty as a sentence for planned and deliberate
(first degree) murder? I am opposed to the death penalty under
any circumstances, I am opposed to the death penalty except
in a few cases where it may be appropriate, I am generally in
favor of the death penalty except in a few cases where it may
not be appropriate, I am strongly in favor of the
death penalty as an appropriate measure."(DEATHPEN)
A further question, suggested by David
Young, was, "If you, or your family, were threatened
with death or serious injury by an aggressor and you had access
to a firearm, would you use it to defend yourself, or
not?"(YOUDEF) The response categories were, Definitely Yes,
Probably Yes, Not Sure, Probably Not, Definitely Not.
As in 1993, several questions were combined to construct the
dependent variable, pro gun control attitude. One item, asking
about the killings at the Montreal universities was dropped, but
the rest were the same as in the 1993 variable CRUSADE. These
questions were: "Did you happen to sign the Concordia
"Gun Control" petition?" "Here is a question
about pistols and revolvers. Do you favor or oppose a law which
would forbid the possession of these types of guns (handguns)
except by the police and army? (or) except by the police,
army and other authorized persons?" Two wordings were
used to see if the petition signers knew what they were asking
for - they didn't (Buckner 1994).
"If there were more firearms laws, do you think the crime
rate would decrease, increase, or stay the same as it is
now?" "Some people say 'Gun control laws affect only
lawabiding citizens, criminals will always be able to find
firearms.' Do you agree or disagree?" "Recently, there
have been a number of incidents involving firearms used by retail
store owners. How often do you feel that incidents like these
defending oneself with a firearm are justified?" "Do
you believe that you, as a Canadian resident, have a right to own
a gun, or not?" These questions were all taken from Mauser and Margolis
Respondents received a high score on pro gun control ideology
if they said they signed the petition, thought handguns should be
banned, thought the crime rate would decrease with more laws,
said that criminals would obey laws, and said they did not have a
right to own a gun. There are numerous contradictions: a majority
of those who signed the petition asking for a new law thought
only the law-abiding obeyed laws; a majority who thought
Canadians had no right to a gun said that self-defense with a gun
is - sometimes, usually or always - justified, and that they
would - probably or definitely - defend themselves with a gun.
These contradictions are to be expected, however, as they reflect
the differences in the willingness to enforce controls on others,
as opposed to ones self.
Figure 5 "Student have almost no knowledge of firearms law, the actual handgun murder rate, or firearms.
There is always the possibility that calls for gun control are based on rational, knowledgeable analysis. In order to test this hypothesis four knowledge questions were asked: "What percentage of the murders in Canada do you think are committed with handguns?" "Do you happen to know what the maximum penalty is in Canada for having a handgun that is not registered with the police?" "Do you happen to know the main difference between a rifle and a shotgun?" "Does the magazine of a gun have a trigger?"
Less than 1% knew that there is a five year penalty for an
unregistered handgun (the most frequent guess was a $500 fine).
Only 6% knew that handguns account for less than 20% of the
murders in Canada (most guessed that it was around two-thirds, as
in the U.S.). Only 11% knew the difference between a rifle and a
shotgun. Thirty-two percent knew that the magazine of a gun does
not have a trigger.(Buckner 1984) As Figure
5 shows, knowledge of the subject is not widespread. Pro gun
control attitudes do not appear to depend on knowledge or
Figure 6 The less knowledge of and experience with guns a student has the more pro gun control they are.
In fact, the more experience and knowledge one has of guns the
lower the support for gun control. An index was created giving
one point for knowing the difference between a rifle and shotgun,
one point for knowing a magazine does not have a trigger, one
point for there being a gun in the student's home, one point for
having ever shot a gun, and one point for owning a gun (3% of the
total). Figure 6 shows the relationship between
experience-knowledge and pro gun control attitudes for men, women
and overall (too few women scored three or more items to
Figure 7 "Do you generally favor or oppose the hunting of animals for sport?" and "Do you generally favor or oppose the wearing of clothes made of animal furs?"
Logically, if people disagree with hunting and the wearing of
furs, purposes for which guns are legitimately used, they will
support gun control. Figure 7 shows
this relationship. People who are opposed to both sport hunting
and the wearing of furs have a very high level of pro gun control
sentiment, those who are not opposed (includes the "don't
knows") have a much lower level.
Figure 8 "If you, or your family, were threatened with death or serious injury by an aggressor and you had access to a firearm, would you use it to defend yourself, or not?"
Students with a pacifist orientation who would not defend
themselves or their family with a gun (Figure
8) perhaps look on gun control as a way of avoiding the
situation. Also, they may not know how to use a gun. It should be
noted that, overall 39.4% said they would definitely defend
themselves, and 38% said they probably would. Just over 20% said
they were not sure, or would not defend themselves. The important
distinction seems to be between "probably" and
"definitely," an indicator of the will to survive. 77%
of the 22 gun owners in the sample said they would
"definitely" defend themselves, compared to 38% of the
Figure 9 "Men should be more sensitive, less 'macho,' in their relationships with women." Note that only one woman strongly disagreed with this statement, so she has not been percentaged.
A strong relationship exists between pro gun control attitudes
and feeling that men should be more sensitive, less
"macho," for men, practically none for women. (Figure 9) As we will see later this
feeling is extremely important for women as well, but in the
context of gun control reducing violence against women and the
desire to restrict the sale of sexually explicit materials. For
mens' attitudes toward gun control, as we will see, the rejection
of "macho" is a rejection of hunting, not necessarily
an indication of heightened sensitivity to women.
Figure 10 "Stricter gun control would greatly reduce the level of violence against women in Canada."
In Figure 10 the students seem to be saying that guns are used by men, and violence against women is committed by men, so controlling guns would reduce violence against women. The fact that gun violence against women is exceptionally rare in Canada, and probably would not be significantly reduced by any conceivable law, is probably not known to the students who agreed with this statement. Agreeing with this statement is clearly symbolic, the expression of a wishful sentiment.
To clarify the relationship between variables a series of
multiple regression analyses were performed. Many of the
variables do not conform to the assumptions of interval level
measurement used in regression analysis (Berk, 1983:511). Because some of the
variables are ordinal the results must be interpreted with
caution. At first, stepwise multiple regression, with listwise
deletion (Berk, 1983:540) of cases
with missing values, was used. The analyses were also run
separately for men and women. For the following tables irrelevant
variables were excluded and new, defined, regression analyses
were run separately for men and women because they have
distinctly different reasons for supporting gun control.
Figure 11 There are a large number of different factors which may cause a man to be supportive of gun control.
The attitudinal patterns which influence men to be pro gun
control reflect a rejection of what are usually considered to be
traditional male, or masculine, behavior and values.
The first is being opposed to hunting and the wearing of fur,
certainly the oldest male occupation, and earliest form of dress.
Factors which influence this attitude are a desire to see more
extensive laws protecting animals from inhumane treatment, a
rejection of "macho" behavior, taking classes on
Concordia's downtown campus, and feeling comfortable with
homosexuals as close personal friends.
The next is thinking that a homosexual would make as good a
Prime Minister as a heterosexual (21). A
generally pro homosexual and womens' rights orientation leads to
this opinion. These men are comfortable with close homosexual
friends, think homosexuals should be able to marry legally and
adopt children, think more than half of the women in Canada have
been abused, and think women are happier balancing careers and
children now than they were staying at home in the 1950s. These
men might be termed, "gender correct."
The next is thinking that more gun laws would greatly reduce
violence against women. Factors which lead to this opinion
include living in a home without guns, vastly over estimating the
percentage of murders committed in Canada with handguns, having
been raised in an urban environment and wanting to prohibit
sexually explicit material which shows nude people.
The next factor which leads to a pro gun control response, for
men, is having been subjected to force. (Since the age of 16 have
you been subjected to any use of force such as being hit,
slapped, kicked or grabbed to being beaten, knifed or shot?)
Associated with this is a self definition of being a victim or
survivor, relatively infrequent among men in the sample. What is
interesting here is that, as we will see, having been subjected
to force inclines women not to support gun control.
The last two items are negatively associated with a pro gun
control attitude, so the signs of the factors leading to these
opinions have to be reversed.
Having never shot a gun leads to a pro gun control attitude.
This is associated with not owning a gun, not knowing that the
magazine of a gun does not have a trigger, not knowing the
difference between a rifle and a shotgun, coming from a non-rural
background, and thinking it is not the man's role to provide for
Finally, those unwilling to defend themselves or their family
with a gun have a pro gun control attitude. Factors associated
with this attitude include living in a home in which no one owns
a gun, opposing the death penalty for first degree murder,
opposing the expression of unpopular opinions, attending classes
on Concordia's downtown campus, and thinking women should be
allowed a full combat role in Canada's armed forces.
Figure 12 There are a relatively narrow range of factors which incline women to favor gun control.
The factors which lead women to be pro gun control tend to
center on controlling the behavior of men.
The first is thinking that more gun control would greatly
reduce violence against women. This is associated with agreeing
that "Men should be expected to protect the women in their
lives from violence." They also feel that men should be more
sensitive and less "macho" in their relationships with
women. Those women who have been subjected to force (almost
always by men) do not think that more gun laws will reduce
violence against women.
As in the 1993 survey women who want to restrict (censor) the
sale of sexually explicit material in Montreal are pro gun
control. Associated with this is thinking men should be more
sensitive, less "macho," and agreeing with the
statement, "The sale and possession of all sexually explicit
materials showing nude people should be prohibited in
Canada." These women tend to be older than the average
Finally, saying they would not defend themselves or their
family with a gun is associated with a pro gun control attitude.
Leading to this refusal is a strong rejection of the death
penalty for first degree murder, and being something of a
non-drinking vegetarian. They disagree with the statement,
"A woman who wants to have an abortion should have the right
to one, no questions asked," and they think homosexuals
should have the right to adopt children. This is the only one of
the three factors which does not deal more or less directly with
Students generally have nothing to lose by being in favor of
gun control, few own guns (5% 1993, 3% 1994), over half (57%
1993, 61% 1994) have never shot a gun, probably very few have
ever participated in any of the gun sports or gone hunting. They
know little about guns. Guns exist only as symbols for many of
They do not know about the gun controls presently in place.
They think that handguns are responsible for twice as many
murders as the entire firearms total. They favor creating more
laws but do not think they will be effective. Many do not think
they have a right to own a gun, but would use one to defend
Analyzing the origin of a set of beliefs uncontaminated by
knowledge or rationality is a frustrating enterprise, something
like trying to figure out why people believe in flying saucers. Belief in gun control must
provide some payoff to the believer, even if only a symbolic one.
The relationship between the sexes has been changing since the
development of oral contraceptives in the early 1960s. The
biological division of labor has become less important, social
roles have become more fluid. Increasing urbanization, the
decline of primary industries and the rise of service industries,
have devalued the male roles of hunter, provider, protector and
replaced them with more equalitarian expectations. In a sense,
women constitute a status group on the rise, who would like,
finally, to see their concerns recognized in law and society.
"Since governmental actions symbolize the position of groups in the status structure, seemingly ceremonial or ritual acts of government are often of great importance to many social groups. Issues which seem foolish or impractical items are often important for what they symbolize about the style or culture which is being recognized or derogated." (1963:11)
"Since drinking had been largely a male activity, the
concern of the woman for Temperance was itself an act of
controlling the relation between the sexes." (1963:89)
Guns are largely a male activity. Is concern for "gun
control" an act of controlling the relation between the
Violence against women has become an increasing concern in
Canadian society Guns symbolize violence, so gun control is, for
many, a response to these concerns.
In the 1993 survey a lack of experience with guns, a desire to
restrict pornography, and a favorable attitude toward homosexuals
were associated with pro gun control attitudes. Additional
questions asked in 1994 showed that other factors were also
important, and the original relationships were specified.
Lack of experience with guns and being pro homosexual turned
out to be only important for men. So few women in the sample have
any personal experience with guns that it is not a major
determinant of their attitudes overall (this was also true in
1993). Once women could express directly their desire for men to
be more sensitive, less "macho," it became clear that
being "pro homosexual" had simply been a proxy variable
for women expressing this desire.
Both men and women think gun control will greatly reduce
violence against women, but for very different reasons. Women see
it as part of a set of desired roles for men in their
relationship with women: men should protect women, but not be
"macho" about it. Men think it because they
overestimate the role of handguns in murder, want to be sensitive
to womens' concerns by prohibiting sexually explicit depictions
of nude people, and come from urban homes that do not contain
Both men and women who would not defend themselves with a gun
are in favor of gun control, but for somewhat different reasons.
They both reject the death penalty for first degree murder, but
for men this part of a set of "politically correct"
responses which includes giving women a combat role in the army
and opposition to talks on politically incorrect topics. These
men may also reject self defense with a gun because there are no
guns in their homes, and they may not have any idea of how to use
a gun. For women rejection of the death penalty is more of a
pro-life choice: they are opposed to easy abortions, think
homosexuals should be allowed to adopt children, and are
non-drinking vegetarians. Perhaps they would not defend
themselves with a gun because of a fear of killing the aggressor.
Women who want to restrict the sale of sexually explicit
materials are pro gun control. This is associated with a desire
to prohibit all sexually explicit depictions of nude people, and
a desire for men to be more sensitive, less "macho."
Overall, the men who favor gun control are those who reject
traditional male roles and behavior. They are opposed to hunting,
are pro homosexual, do not have any experience with or knowledge
of guns and tend to have "politically correct"
attitudes. Overall, the women who support gun control do so in
the context of controlling male violence and sexuality.
While this study has not explained all of the motivations for
gun control (there is considerable unexplained variance in the
regression equations) it does support the contention that gun
control is, symbolically, male control. It would be interesting
to see if the same factors operate in the general population.
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1. Presented in the Deviance and Control:
Quantitative Studies session of the American Sociological
Association 89th Annual Meeting, Los Angeles, 5 August 1994.
2. I would like to thank and express my
appreciation to the students of Research Design and Analysis
whose work made this research possible, to the 1700 students of
Concordia University who filled out the questionnaires, and to
AnneMarie Wera who used the data from the 1993 study for her
Honours Thesis. Comments on an earlier draft by Gary Mauser, Kurt
Jonnasohn, Graeme Decarie, and AnneMarie Wera have led to
3. Department of Sociology and
Anthropology, Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Ave. W.,
Montreal, P.Q. H3G 1M8.
4. S.C. 1892, c. 29, s. 105.
5. S.C. 1913, c. 13, s. 4.
6. S.C. 1934, c. 47, s. 3.
7. S.C. 1951, c. 47, s. 7.
8. Criminal Code, 109 (3) (c & d).
9. Criminal Code, Part III, and
10. Survey carried out by the author.
11. These figures were inflated in 1992 by
the theft of a shipment of guns from a distributor. (Montreal
Gazette, 27 July 1993, p. B2).
12. Montreal Gazette. 27 Aug 1992:A1,
A7. This is clearly an exception to the rule. Fabrikant doubled
the legal handgun murder rate for Canada in 1992. How any law can
stop an intelligent but deranged person without a criminal
record, who is willing to take almost two years to acquire a
handgun legally, is not clear.
13. Montreal Gazette. 23 September 1992:A3; Globe
& Mail. 23 September
1992:A4; Montreal Gazette. Editorial, "Concordia is right: no
handguns." Some have questioned the motivation of the
petition. Crocker (1992:9) wrote, "With such intense
media coverage and Mr. Kenniff's sudden public stand on the issue
of gun control the focus is sure to be directed away from the
burgeoning troubles he faces within his troubled faculties...
." Some members of the University Senate and Board of
Governors, "... suggested repeatedly that Concordia's first
priority after the Aug. 24 shootings should be opening the lines
of communication, not only to help the community come to terms
with the tragedy, but also to clear the air of suspicion and
frustration which is evident at
many levels in the University (Concordia's Thursday Report.
29 October 92:8)."
14. Although there is a strong correlation
between favoring the prohibition of handguns and signing the
petition which asks for the prohibition of handguns many people
signed it to express their outrage at the shootings. One staff
member, who was personally involved in bringing the shooting to
an end, said to me that he did not agree with the petition, but
signed it in order to "do something." In fact, the
signers of the petition would have been just as willing to ask
for the present law as for what they did ask for (Buckner
15. If, indeed, the Gun Control Petition was
intended to divert attention from academic mismanagement it did
not work. The Rector, and his assistant who coordinated the
petition, have been fired.
16. In return for asking these latter
questions the Computer Department prints the questionnaires for
17. In 1985 and 1992 only students in
Sociology or Sociology and Anthropology courses were sampled, to
aid in Departmental planning or evaluation.
18. The outdoors temperature during the
period of questionnaire administration in February 1994 was
around minus 30 centigrade which reduced class attendance
somewhat. We sampled additional classes using the same method to
get a reasonable number of cases.
19. Los Angles Times Poll, U.S. nationwide,
47 December 1993, telephone, n=1,612 adults.
20. This question turned out to be of
limited utility because Fine Arts students, who are generally
most politically correct and agree with restricting the sale
(CENSOR) of sexually explicit material, do not wish to have
images of nudes prohibited.
21. Canada has probably had homosexual Prime
Ministers, who have probably done as well as the heterosexual
ones, but recognition of this is not part of "official"
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