Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Sociology (Criminology Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Sociology

Committee Chair

James Burfeind

Commitee Members

Bryan Cochran, Dusten Hollist


gun crime, social learning theory


University of Montana


This study examines the relationship between specific childhood experiences and the use of guns in crime in a sample of incarcerated males in American prisons. Two specific childhood experiences are examined: exposure to violence in the home and exposure to guns in the home. Utilizing social learning theory, I argue that adult male felons who used guns in the commission of crimes will have had greater levels of exposure to violence and exposure to guns in their childhood home. Using a data set collected by sociologists James Wright and Peter Rossi, I conducted a binary logistic regression to determine the existence and strength of relationships between the variables. Results show that exposure to violence, as defined in this study, did not predict adult criminal gun usage, but that exposure to guns, and the control variable of race do predict adult criminal gun usage. I then address the limitations of the study and the implications of these findings for the furtherance of social learning theory as well as suggest directions for future research on gun violence.



© Copyright 2013 Krista Pearl Caffrey