Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Comments

Submitted to the College of Graduate Studies Bridgewater State University Bridgewater, Massachusetts In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science In Criminal Justice.

Degree Program

Criminal Justice

Degree Type

Master of Science


The history of gun culture in the United States is complicated. Guns are an integral part of American history and attempts to control them through policy are often contentious. However, research suggests that gun crime occurs in areas where there are more guns (Braga, 2017; Braga & Pierce, 2005; Cook, Harris, Ludwig, & Pollack, 2015; Kennedy, 2011; Koper, 2013; Pierce, Braga, Hyatt, & Koper, 2004). Consequently, as gun accessibility increases within cities, the likelihood of gun crime also increases. When researching gun accessibility, it is important to note how guns are accessed. Often, guns are accessible in three ways: (1) legal transactions, (2) straw purchases, or (3) theft (Braga, 2017; Cook et al, 2015; Koper, 2013). Most contemporary gun accessibility research measures the impact of legal gun ownership and straw market transactions on gun crime rates within cities (Braga, 2017, Cook et al., 2015; Koper, 2013). Breaking from conventional research, this study will explore the relationship between city-level gun theft and gun crime to determine if cities experiencing higher rates of gun theft also experience higher rates of gun crime. Environmental criminology suggests that opportunities to acquire guns vary depending on physical and social features of places (Bratingham & Bratingham, 1984; Cohen & Felson, 1979; Meier & Miethe, 1993). Therefore, using environmental criminology as a framework, it is likely that if a stolen gun is used in a crime, it will be used close to where it was stolen. As follows, if gun theft increases in a city – increasing illicit gun availability – so too will gun crime.


Dr. Khadija Monk, Thesis Advisor

Dr. Robert Grantham, Thesis Member

Dr. Feodor Gostjev, Thesis Member