In order to propose the best policy for the USA, it is important to describe gun control measures and social attitude towards gins in the UK. By far the most common reasons for gun ownership are hunting and related recreational uses, a fact consistent with the prevalence of long guns over handguns. Self-protection is the second most frequently cited reason (mentioned about a third as often as hunting/recreation), and it is the main reason cited for handgun purchases. In public policy terms, legitimate hunting purposes are not questioned, aside from issues related to safety (Squires, 2008). The self-protection issue, however, poses a different problem. Those who acquire or own guns for self-protection are reacting to the perceived and real threats of modern American life. One study of those who own guns for self-protection found key explanations in feelings of vulnerability to crime and police ineffectiveness. In addition, men are more likely to purchase guns for security, as are those who have been victimized by crime or who believe the risk of crime is increasing (Kelly, 2004).
One other consideration in this already complex equation is the theft of legally owned guns. Gun control opponents are quick to point out that stricter gun laws would result in less gun availability for law-abiding citizens but that criminals would continue to get guns anyway, since most obtain them by illegal means to begin with. The problem with this logic (leaving aside for the moment the self-defense side of the equation) is that it begs the question of where the guns used by criminals come from. Most stolen guns, and guns used to commit crimes, begin as weapons produced and sold legally (Ludwig and Cook 2003).
In an effort to find a more effective political approach, the state agencies in the UK has launched a new political assault by accusing gun control supporters of being soft on crime, urging the construction of more prisons and tougher sentencing, and avoiding any direct claims about gun control (Squires, 2008). The initial and most important fact about public opinion on gun control has been its remarkable consistency in support of greater governmental control of guns. As the survey results from questions on gun registration, waiting periods, assault weapons, and even a ban on handguns make clear, the British decisive support for stronger gun control is not the product of misunderstanding or a failure to comprehend what the gun debate is all about. Americans may not possess the knowledge of the gun specialist, but the policy options under public discussion are straightforward and clear, as are public preferences (Kelly, 2004).
The Congress should take into account that gun ownership and opposition to gun controls are closely related. Those most likely to oppose gun controls are male (about three-quarters of gun owners are men, as are 87 percent of hunters), reside in small towns and rural areas, are registered as Republicans, are white, and live in the South (Squires, 2008). The important factors that tie these demographic traits together include the male "rite of passage" connection between