Title page for ETD etd-05092011-135008

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Elpi, Clara Maria
Author's Email Address cmelpi@vt.edu
URN etd-05092011-135008
Title Actual Versus Perceived Risk of Victimization and Handgun Ownership
Degree Master of Science
Department Sociology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
King, Neal M. Committee Chair
Hawdon, James E. Committee Member
Kiecolt, K. Jill Committee Member
  • handguns
  • self-defense
  • gender
  • race
  • fear
Date of Defense 2011-05-05
Availability unrestricted
This study tested the hypotheses that perceived risk of victimization had a stronger effect than actual exposure to victimization risk on handgun ownership and that this relationship was stronger for women than men. Perceived and actual risks of victimization have been discussed with respect to handgun ownership, but a general consensus in the literature was lacking and recent empirical research was scarce. Crime rates and respondents’ social characteristics were used as proxy measures for victimization risk, while fear of crime measured perceived risk of victimization. Three sets of models were estimated, the first with a pooled sample of men and women, the second and third on samples separated by gender. Binary logistic regression was utilized to compare the predictive power of these two major correlates of handgun ownership and observe how their effects varied by gender. Data were drawn from the National Opinion for Research Center’s (NORC) Cumulative General Social Surveys (GSS) for the years 1986 through 2008. Predictors of victimization risk, especially gender and regional crime rate, had strong effects on handgun possession, while perceived risk had no effect on handgun possession. Results also demonstrated that while women were more likely to fear crime, they were not necessarily more or less likely than men to obtain handguns in response to that fear.
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