Published August 29, 2003, in The Times Higher Education Supplement

Don's Diary: Neighbourly Interest

By Andrew Davies


My work supports that of lawyers defending those on trial for their lives. I research cases, visit clients and interview their families to find evidence, explanation and mitigation. With my mentor, Elizabeth Beck, a sociologist at Georgia State University, I have been looking at how community-based weaknesses can contribute to the likelihood of individuals committing crimes.

We begin by looking for evidence of "collective efficacy", a community's ability to work together for the common good. Do people know their neighbours? Do they trust them? Research shows that the presence of such relationships can be a formidable tool in enabling communities to engage in informal acts of self-regulation.


Today's client has a family that is clearly strong, loyal and tightly knit. They all swear that their closeness makes them feel secure, but their lack of trust in, and little positive contact with, the police or other social institutions belies this. Without an institutional safety net, protecting oneself can become collective paranoia. The fear is not always misplaced: following the arrest, shots have been fired at the family's trailer home.


At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the bookstore window features The Leadership Genius of George W. Bush and The Bias Against Guns.

Reassuring. This must be the right place.

Home (description of book, downloadable data sets, and discussions of previous controversies)

Academic papers:

Social Science Research Network

Book Reviews:

For a list of book reviews on The Bias Against Guns, click here.

List of my Op-eds

Posts by topic

Appalachian law school attack

Baghdad murder rate

Arming Pilots

Fraudulent website pretending to be run by me

Ayres and Donohue

Stanford Law Review

Mother Jones article

Vin Suprynowicz quote


Craig Newmark

Eric Rasmusen

William Sjostrom

Dr. T's

Interview with National Review Online

Lyonette Louis-Jacques's page on Firearms Regulation Worldwide

The End of Myth: An Interview with Dr. John Lott

Cold Comfort, Economist John Lott discusses the benefits of guns--and the hazards of pointing them out.

An interview with John R. Lott, Jr. author of More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws

Some data not found at

Updated Media Analysis of Appalachian Law School Attack

Since the first news search was done additional news stories have been added to Nexis:

There are thus now 218 unique stories, and a total of 294 stories counting duplicates (the stories in yellow were duplicates): Excel file for general overview and specific stories. Explicit mentions of defensive gun use increase from 2 to 3 now.

Journal of Legal Studies paper on spoiled ballots during the 2000 Presidential Election

Data set from USA Today, STATA 7.0 data set

"Do" File for some of the basic regressions from the paper