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Lecture: 'Gun Law Enforcement and the Over-/Underpolicing Paradox'

Event Details

December 6, 2016
4:00 pm-5:30 pm

Campus Center

Room: 904-08

UMass Amherst Campus

Handicap access available
Free admission

Today, an unprecedented 11 million Americans are licensed to carry a concealed gun, which raises a paradox for public law enforcement, who must enforce the very laws that undermine their unique ability to use legitimate coercion in the pursuit of social order. Yet, a large segment of law enforcement support expanded civilian access to firearms. 

To explain this puzzle, Jennifer Carlson of the University of Arizona will discuss the concepts of  “administrative justice” and  “crime-fighting at a distance.” Her analysis shows that rather than undermining state power, the proliferation of concealed carry deepens the overpolicing/underpolicing paradox in which the communities most likely to experience unwanted police attention are also least likely to receive police protection. African-American men are most likely to be caught up in the administrative state if they wish to obtain a concealed carry license, but they are also disproportionately likely to commit justifiable homicide and to be shot and killed in alleged defensive gun use.

Carlson is an assistant professor in the sociology department at the University of Arizona.  Her work examines gun politics, policing and public law enforcement, the politics of race and gender, and violence. She is fascinated by how societies distinguish and regulate legitimate force versus criminal violence. Her book on the politics of gun carry, “Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline,” was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press.

Co-sponsored by Legal Studies and the Feinberg Family Distinguished Lecture Series.


The Campus Center is located in the middle of campus at 1 Campus Center Way. Parking is available in the Campus Center Garage.

More details on directions and parking.