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Institute of Advanced Study

IAS Staff

Publication details for Dr Sam Hillyard

Hillyard, S. & Burridge, J. (2012). Shotguns and Firearms in the UK: A Call for a Distinctively Sociological Contribution to the Debate. Sociology 46(3): 395-410.

Author(s) from Durham


The outcome of a UK government’s Home Affairs select committee’s discussion of the regulation of gun ownership called for reform. The impetus for the review was the shootings in Cumbria and Northumberland in 2010. This article challenges why the social science community has had little to say about the legal ownership and use of guns in the UK and argues that opportunities to shape the debate have been lost. This article demonstrates that there is a substantial knowledge base, but that this is ecological and environmental rather than political or sociological. It suggests that a distinctively sociological analysis is needed if the complexity of participation in shooting is to be understood. This article explores three specific aspects of the topic: (1) legal and policy aspects, (2) methodological issues and (3) the meaning and activity of participation in shooting. All are discussed critically as a means to stimulate sociological discussion.