Category Archives: Guns

The influence of Muslim headgear and induced affect on aggressive responses in the shooter bias paradigm

muslim headgearOn the third anniversary of the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, an innocent man shot dead by police in London who thought he was a suicide bomber, a timely and depressing article currently in press in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology:

Does Islamic appearance increase aggressive tendencies, and what role does affect play in such responses? In a computer game, participants made rapid decisions to shoot at armed people, some of whom wore Islamic head dress. We predicted and found a significant bias for participants to shoot more at Muslim targets. We also predicted and found that positive mood selectively increased aggressive tendencies towards Muslims, consistent with affect-cognition theories that predict a more top-down, stereotypical processing style in positive mood. In contrast, induced anger increased the propensity to shoot at all targets. The relevance of these results for our understanding of real-life negative reactions towards Muslims is discussed, and the influence of affective states on rapid aggressive responses is considered.


Photo credit: “Muslim Crop” by Olly Farrell, Creative Commons License

New issues: Journal of Criminal Justice


Journal of Criminal Justice 35(4), July-August 2007 and Journal of Criminal Justice 35(5), September-October 2007 are now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.


Journal of Criminal Justice 35(4):

  • Predicting crime story salience: A replication – Steven Chermak and Nicole M. Chapman
  • Duration of the time to reconviction: Evidence from UK prisoner discharge data – Roger Arthur Bowles and Chrisostomos Florackis
  • Convicting and incarcerating felony offenders of intimate assault and the odds of new assault charges – John Wooldredge
  • Roles of neighborhood race and status in the middle stages of juror selection – Ralph B. Taylor, Jerry H. Ratcliffe, Lillian Dote and Brian A. Lawton
  • Race and repeats: The impact of officer performance on racially biased policing – Lisa Growette Bostaph
  • Interpersonal violent crime in Ghana: The case of assault in Accra – Joseph Appiahene-Gyamfi
  • The long-term impact of restorative justice programming for juvenile offenders – Kathleen J. Bergseth and Jeffrey A. Bouffard
  • How does reactivity affect police behavior? Describing and quantifying the impact of reactivity as behavioral change in a large-scale observational study of police – Richard Spano

Journal of Criminal Justice 35(5):

  • Differentiating among racial/ethnic groups and its implications for understanding juvenile justice decision making – Michael J. Leiber, Joseph Johnson, Kristan Fox and Robyn Lacks
  • Prisonization and accounts of gun carrying – Paul B. Stretesky, Mark Pogrebin, N. Prabha Unnithan and Gerry Venor
  • Victims’ perceptions of police response to domestic violence incidents – Ida M. Johnson
  • Considering the efficacy of situational crime prevention in schools – Lauren O’Neill and Jean Marie McGloin
  • Citizen assessment of local criminal courts: Does fairness matter? – Kevin Buckler, Francis T. Cullen and James D. Unnever
  • Investigating the impact of extended bar closing times on police stops for DUI – Leana Allen Bouffard, Lindsey Ellen Bergeron and Jeffrey A. Bouffard
  • Operationalizing risk: The influence of measurement choice on the prevalence and correlates of prison violence among incarcerated murderers – Jon R. Sorensen and Mark D. Cunningham
  • Stalking acknowledgement and reporting among college women experiencing intrusive behaviors: Implications for the emergence of a “classic stalking case” – Carol E. Jordan, Pamela Wilcox and Adam J. Pritchard
  • A note on the status of discretion in police research – Ernest L. Nickels

New issue: Behavioral Sciences & the Law 25(3)

journalsBehavioral Sciences & the Law 25(3) (May/June 2007) is now online, and is a special issue on “Elder Issues”, edited by John Petrila. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles.

Contents include:

  • Guardianship determinations by judges, attorneys, and guardians – Melanie Gavisk, Edith Greene
  • The perceived credibility of older adults as witnesses and its relation to ageism – Katrin Mueller-Johnson, Michael P. Toglia, Charlotte D. Sweeney, Stephen J. Ceci
  • Gray, black, and blue: the state of research and intervention for intimate partner abuse among elders – Sarah L Desmarais, Kim A Reeves
  • Decision-making capacity in elderly, terminally ill patients with cancer – Brooke Myers Sorger, Barry Rosenfeld, Hayley Pessin, Anne Kosinski Timm, James Cimino
  • Granny, (don’t) get your gun: competency issues in gun ownership by older adults – Edith Greene, Brian H. Bornstein, Hannah Dietrich
  • Statutory reform is associated with improved court practice: results of a tri-state comparison – Jennifer Moye, Erica Wood, Barry Edelstein, Stacey Wood, Emily H. Bower, Julie A. Harrison, Jorge C. Armesto

New issue: British Journal of Criminology 47(3)


The May 2007 issue of British Journal of Criminology 47(3), is now online. Follow the link to the publisher’s website for abstracts and access to full text articles, and a link to sign up for personalised tables of contents alerting.

Contents include:

  • Reinventing Prevention: Why Did ‘Crime Prevention’ Develop So Late? – Pat O’Malley and Steven Hutchinson
  • The Internal Narrative of Desistance – Barry Vaughan
  • Normalization and its Discontents: Constructing the ‘Irreconcilable’: Female Political Prisoner in Northern Ireland – Mary S. Corcoran
  • Citizenship and Social Exclusion: The Re-Integration of Political Ex-Prisoners in Northern Ireland – Grainne McKeever
  • Police and the Prevention of Crime: Commerce, Temptation and the Corruption of the Body Politic, from Fielding to Colquhoun – Francis Dodsworth
  • Gun Laws and Sudden Death: Did the Australian Firearms Legislation of 1996 Make a Difference? – Jeanine Baker and Samara McPhedran
  • Twisting Arms Or a Helping Hand?: Assessing the Impact of ‘Coerced’ and Comparable ‘Voluntary’ Drug Treatment Options – Tim McSweeney, Alex Stevens, Neil Hunt, and Paul J. Turnbull
  • Aspirations of Restorative Justice Proponents and Experiences of Participants in Family Group Conferences – Margarita Zernova

States with higher levels of gun ownership have higher homicide rates

… according to a study in Social Science and Medicine. The press release (11 Jan) explains:

Firearms are used to kill two out of every three homicide victims in America. In the first nationally representative study to examine the relationship between survey measures of household firearm ownership and state level rates of homicide, researchers at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center found that homicide rates among children, and among women and men of all ages, are higher in states where more households have guns. The study appears in the February 2007 issue of Social Science and Medicine.

The researchers used data from a survey of more than 200,000 Americans carried out in 2001 by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that around a third of American households reported firearm ownership.

Analyses that controlled for several measures of resource deprivation, urbanization, aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, and alcohol consumption found that states with higher rates of household firearm ownership had significantly higher homicide victimization rates for children, and for women and men. In these analyses, states within the highest quartile of firearm prevalence had firearm homicide rates 114% higher than states within the lowest quartile of firearm prevalence. Overall homicide rates were 60% higher. The association between firearm prevalence and homicide was driven by gun-related homicide rates; non-gun-related homicide rates were not significantly associated with rates of firearm ownership.


Can Gunfire Really be ‘Contagious’?

Newsweek (29 Nov) carried an interview with Professor Eugene O’Donnell, from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in which he discussed the phenomenon of “contagious shooting”:

Five New York City police officers went to work last Friday having never fired their 16-shot semiautomatic pistols on patrol. But by early Saturday morning, they’d all pulled the trigger for the first time—shooting a total of 50 rounds at Sean Bell, an unarmed 23-year-old who allegedly hit an undercover officer and an unmarked police van with his car after leaving a Queens strip club.

[…] defenders of law enforcement claim a combination of inexperience, fear, confusion and lack of training can cause what’s known in police parlance as “contagious shooting”—gunfire that spreads, in the heat of the moment, from officer to officer. NEWSWEEK’s Andrew Romano talked to former police officer Eugene O’Donnell, a professor of police studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, about whether contagious shooting could explain last week’s tragedy.

More in the New York Times (27 Nov).

Recently published articles in non-forensic journals: Intimate Partner Violence

Recently (and not quite so recently) published journal articles from non-forensic journals on intimate partner violence:

Depression, PTSD, and Comorbidity Related to Intimate Partner Violence in Civilian and Military Women – Patricia O’Campo, Joan Kub, Anne Woods, Mary Garza, Alison Snow Jones, Andrea C. Gielen, Jacqueline Dienemann, and Jacquelyn Campbell. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention 6(2): May 2006

Common Mental Health Correlates of Domestic Violence – Gina Robertiello. Brief Treatment and Crisis Intervention 6(2): May 2006

Are Temporary Restraining Orders More Likely to Be Issued When Applications Mention Firearms? – Katherine A. Vittes and Susan B. Sorenson. Evaluation Review 30(3): June 2006

Precipitants of Partner Aggression – Susan G. O’Leary and Amy M. Smith Slep. Journal of Family Psychology, 20(2): June 2006

Approaches to Screening for Intimate Partner Violence in Health Care Settings: A Randomized Trial – Harriet L. MacMillan, C. Nadine Wathen, Ellen Jamieson, Michael Boyle, Louise-Anne McNutt, Andrew Worster, Barbara Lent, Michelle Webb for the McMaster Violence Against Women Research Group. Journal of the American Medical Association 296(5): 2 August 2006

Social class, race, and ethnicity: career interventions for women domestic violence survivors – KM Chronister. American Journal of Community Psychology 37(3-4): June 2006

    Toy guns inspire real debate

    There’s a heated debate in Texas, reports the Dallas Morning News (26 June), over whether realistic toy guns should be banned:

    Dallas’s proposed law may restrict the sale of realistic-looking toy guns and outlaw children from playing with them in public. It may also require that toy guns be brightly colored or clear plastic.

    But criminologist David L Carter argues:

    A person’s behavior matters more to police than whether someone brandishes a fake weapon, according to David L. Carter, a Michigan State University professor who directed the congressional inquiry in the 1980s. In the dark, in a blink, officers interviewed for the study said, many things could look like a gun – a wallet, a beer bottle, a cellphone.

    “They would see something … the size and the color made no difference whatsoever,” Dr. Carter said. “The officer is looking at the behavior of the individual. Simple solutions are usually just that, simple. And they just don’t work.”

    Avoiding workplace violence by … arming the workforce?

    Some bonkers advice on avoiding workplace violence from Bud Levin, the psychology department head at Blue Ridge Community College (, 30 May). It starts off sensibly enough:

    Getting murdered on the job is a highly improbable act. [Levin] said statistics show there were about 800 homicides in the workplace last year “and we’ve got 200 million people working.”

    Fair enough I suppose.  Then Levin makes some suggestions about how people who perpetrate workplace violence select victims.  I’m a little dubious, but have no evidence as to whether or not he’s correct here:

    Workplace violence, Levin said, can occur when workers leave themselves isolated and vulnerable. “The predators look for easy targets,” he said. “The best protection is knowing people well, building relationships.”

    But then:

    Levin, also a sworn reservist with the Waynesboro Police Department, has another piece of advice for those who don’t want to become the next workplace violence statistic — carry a gun. “Firearms are really handy to have around. If you need one, you need one,” he said.