Gun Test: Evaluating Theoretical Explanations for Canada---U.S. Political Differences through the Lens of the Politics of Gun Control
McLean, Dylan S.
MetadataShow full item record
The United States has been more resistant to gun control than any other industrialized country. This dissertation moves toward an explanation for this circumstance by looking to the literature on Canadian-American political difference. The dissertation is primarily structured around evaluating three contemporary theories that purport to explain this cross-national difference with a focus on the politics of gun control. Observable implications that are relevant in this issue area are derived from each of them and these are tested against three sets of original data: a large collection of news articles covering gun control that were drawn from major daily newspapers in both Canada and the U.S., the content of the politically oriented sections of a gun-centric internet discussion forum based in each country, and a collection of semi-structured field interviews that were conducted with police officers in Western New York and Southern Ontario. Once the theoretical approaches that are being evaluated with this data have been reviewed, the dissertation then outlines the methods that will be used to evaluate this data. Before proceeding to devote a chapter to analyzing each set of data, a chapter is devoted to a review of gun prevalence, politics, and policy in Canada and the U.S. Collectively, the results of the analyses lend the most support to Lipset's Revolutionary 'Origins Thesis;' his expectations that Americans will exhibit less deference to authority, more anti-elitism, more anti-statism, and more rugged individualism are generally supported. Moreover, the American Revolution is consistently relevant in the data and this lends plausibility to Lipset's causal story. The dissertation concludes by using Lipset's theory as the foundation for an explanation of America's unique resistance to gun control. Critically, at least in comparison to Canadians, as a result of the persistent influence of their founding political culture, what Lipset calls the 'American ideology,' Americans are more likely to cherish guns for the values they represent than the value they provide.