Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Charles M. Ndikum


Gun violence is a problem in many communities across the United States that are characterized by poverty, and lack of quality education, yet little is known about the experiences of victims of gun violence in these places. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to better understand how people who have been victims of gun violence perceive problems and solutions associated with the production, distribution, and ownership of guns. Based on the theoretical framework of Rousseau's social contract theory, this study explored gun violence from the perspectives of 10 victims whose lives were directly or indirectly affected by gun violence to understand how victims perceive the obligations of government to the governed in terms of response to gun violence. Data from individual interviews were subjected to selective and open coding followed by a thematic analysis procedure. The key findings from this study revealed that gun violence victims were able to differentiate between the intended use of firearms and its abuse. The victims associated the abuse of firearms to deteriorating social factors. In accordance with the classic premise of the social contract theory, the victims thought that the fight against gun violence needed to be led by the affected communities. The results of this study demonstrated what appeared to be a new rendition of theory, that instead of challenging local authorities, the victims opted for a leadership-based collaborative approach to eradicate the underlying social weaknesses that lead to gun violence. The conclusions drawn from this study may provide insight into appropriate measures that can aid in social uplift among affected communities, such as modifications to existing gun control laws to promote safety and efficiency and citizen collaboration toward improved regulation.