Guns and gun crime are the topic of YCISS three-day workshop

"Guns, Crime and Social Order" is the title of the York Centre for International & Security Studies (YCISS) three-day workshop that will explore underground gun markets, gang violence, criminal networks and illicit markets. The workshop, a by-invitation-only event which takes place May 14-16 at York’s Keele campus, will involve scholars and researchers from the US, Europe, Canada and the Caribbean.

The overall aim of the workshop is to consolidate a transnational and comparative perspective on the variety of phenomena associated with the trope of gun-related crime. Although criminologists and sociologists have targeted gun crime issues as a priority, debates about gun crime and gun control are highly polarized, especially in North America. As firearms are becoming an increasingly visible and problematic cultural artifact, it’s apparent that gun-related crimes, other than during war, currently kill or injure more people today than at any other time in the modern period.

Right: Keith Krause

Three linked but distinct themes will dominate the workshop – empirical studies of policing gun crime and illicit firearms markets; broad sociological questions about gun-crime and its control; and transnational and comparative analyses of these issues. Speakers will look at various aspects of guns and crime, not only in Canada, but in the UK, the US, the Netherlands and the Caribbean.

The workshop will open with a keynote address on the availability and misuse of firearms by Professor Keith Krause, founder and director of the Small Arms Survey project at the Graduate Institute of International & Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. The Small Arms Survey serves as the principal international source of public information on all aspects of small arms and as a resource for governments, policy-makers, researchers and activists.

Left: Phil Cook

Krause will discuss just how much is known about the availability and misuse of firearms. He will illustrate the highly context-dependent nature of the link between weapons availability and use, and some of the gaps in cross regional knowledge.

The first day of the workshop will continue with three panels of presentations. Professor Phil Cook of the Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy at Duke University, North Carolina, will present his talk, titled "Underground Gun Markets", as part of a panel with Professor Wendy Cukier of Ryerson University who will discuss "The Global Gun Epidemic". Cook’s paper provides an economic analysis of underground gun markets drawing on interviews with gang members, gun dealers, professional thieves, prostitutes, police, public school security guards and teens in Chicago. It also looks at results from government surveys of people recently arrested in 22 US cities, plus data for suicides, homicides, robberies, arrests and confiscated crime guns.

Right: Peter Squires

In her presentation, Cukier will provide a comparative analysis of gun violence in different countries, the relationship between the availability of firearms and violence, and the emerging global norms concerning the regulation of firearms.

During the second panel of the day, Professor Peter Carrington, from the Department of Sociology at the University of Waterloo, will look at "Firearm Use and Co-offending Networks in Recorded Crime in Canada". Carrington will analyze linked incident records in the Incident-based Uniform Crime Reporting Survey, while Professor Frederick Desroches, director of the Legal Studies & Criminology Program at St. Jerome’s University in the University of Waterloo, will discuss "Gun Crimes and Criminal Networks". Desroches will compare and contrast the use of guns across Canada based on research interviews with 80 convicted bank robbers, hold-up squad officers, 70 convicted drug traffickers and RCMP drug investigators.

Left: Ben Bowling

In the third panel of the day, Ben Bowling of the School of Law at King’s College London, University of London, will explore "Guns and Human Insecurity in the Caribbean Region", which will draw on interviews with security sector leaders in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and Barbados. Gavin Hales, an independent researcher, will present his paper, titled "Guns in Yemen; culture, violence and realpolitik", giving an overview of small arms in Yemen – considered the second most heavily armed society in the world.

Right: Margaret Beare

On day two of the workshop, "Developments in Gun Crime Research in England" will be discussed in the first panel by senior research Fellow and visiting Professor Chris Lewis, Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, followed by Martin Innes, School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University in the UK, with a talk on  "Rumour and Reassurance after Gun Violence". In addition, York Osgoode Hall Law School Professor Margaret Beare will look at "Gang Violence and Guns: Analysis of Gang-related Conversations" using data from 13 volumes of transcribed taped conversations (the product of police wiretaps) among gang members and others.

Left: Martin Innes

As part of the second panel, Peter Klerks, senior researcher at the National Police Academy in the Netherlands, will look at "Policing a Transnational Social Order; Gun Crimes and Criminal Networks", while Colin Roberts, associate Fellow with the Universities’ Police Science Institute at the University of Cardiff, will address "Informal Social Control of Gun Violence in Brixton, London".

Professor Peter Squires, from the UK’s University of Brighton, will discuss "Layers in the Gun Culture: Policing a Mixed Economy of Firearms" and Simon Hallsworth of London Metropolitan University will explore "Guns and Criminal Networks: Exploring the Relation", during the third panel.

The final panel of day two will include Daniel Silverstone, from the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies at the University of Portsmouth in the UK, who will talk about "Exploring Gun Cultures in the UK", and York sociology Professor Emeritus Desmond Ellis discussing "Guns, Gangs and Conflict Resolution". Silverstone will look at the market and context of illegal firearms in the UK, and Ellis will address the relationship between inter- and intra-gang conflict and use of guns by gang members, as statistically significant.

Right: Daniel Silverstone

On the third day of the workshop, Adam Edwards of Cardiff University and Arron Doyle of Carleton University, will discuss "Gun-Crime and the Politics of Public Safety" and "Guns, Criminal Networks and Popular Culture" during the first panel.

Left: Desmond Ellis

Godfrey St. Bernard of Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social & Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, will address "Research and Theory Building – An Analysis of Criminal Homicide in Trinidad and Tobago" in the second and final panel, while Biko Agozino of the Department of Behavioual Sciences at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine campus, will present "The Pistolization of Caribbean Culture".

Right: Adam Edwards

York social sciences Professor James Sheptycki will give the closing address on understanding the effects on social life of gun crimes and the illicit markets in weaponry that sustain them.

For more information about the YCISS "Guns, Crime and Social Order" workshop, visit the YCISS Web site. A copy of the agenda for the workshop is also available.