Member Profile: Dr. Tom Gabor

By Emily Rosen

Dr. Tom Gabor

Dr. Tom Gabor, author of best selling Confronting Gun Violence in America

Are you aware that, in the United States, almost 100 people die from gunshot wounds every day? For 27 years the League has been proactive in its stated position to control the proliferation of handguns and semiautomatic assault weapons in the United States. The LWVUS has joined the multitudes urging Congress and State Legislatures to enact common sense legislation to combat gun violence.


The LWVPBC is uniquely fortunate to have among our members an expert in the field.  Dr. Thomas Gabor is a noted Criminologist, Sociologist, and author of the recently published Confronting Gun Violence in America (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), in which he examines the link between gun ownership and homicide, suicide, and unintentional death.

The book is a trove of incredible information about the link between guns and violence. It compares the values of gun ownership versus the adverse effects of gun ownership. And it carefully considers the roles of public opinion, the firearms industry, and the gun lobby in impeding the efforts to prevent gun violence.

Among the many important questions Dr. Gabor analyzes in his book are:

  • Do guns in the home make us safer?
  • When are guns are used?
  • How often are guns used in self defense?
  • Do some gun laws prevent gun violence?

Most significantly, Dr. Gabor explores solutions to the gun violence problem in America. Based on a comprehensive review of research, as well as original analysis, Dr. Gabor presents a series of measures calculated to combat the gun violence problem that is unique to our country.

On a personal note, Dr. Gabor was born in Gyor, Hungary, but moved to Montreal, Canada at the age of five. He received his doctorate at Ohio State University, and has been a professor, researcher, and consultant in criminology and criminal justice for over 35 years at the University of Ottawa and then in Florida – qualifying him to serve as an expert witness on the topic of gun violence.

In 1996, he participated in a United Nations study on firearms regulations around the world, and Dr. Gabor also testified regarding an elementary school massacre in Scotland, which resulted in major gun policy reforms in the United Kingdom.

What about here in the United States? Based on my studies, and analysis of the kinds of violent situations we have witnessed here, Gabor said thoughtfully, I believe the most important thing we can do is to introduce a (new) system of licensing for all gun owners, which would extend beyond merely expanding cursory checks of databases as currently done by the FBI. Licensure should require, in addition to a thorough background check, a police interview, not only with the applicant, but potentially with others. Current or former spouses should be notified of the application, safety training and testing should be required, as well as the testing of knowledge of gun laws and a waiting period of 15 days would be imposed before permits are issued, allowing for a cooling off period for suicidal or homicidal individuals.

The N.R.A., and other pro gun lobbyists, falsely claim that any regulation of gun ownership violates the Second Amendment. Gabor sees a glimpse of light in the current engagement of groups dedicated to prevent gun violence. The Florida League has headed a statewide coalition of groups fighting radical gun bills. Groups like Everytown For Gun Safety are raising more funds and even supporting political candidates with powerful anti-violence positions. Also, those of us in the academic community need to continue debunking the many myths and misinformation disseminated by the gun lobby and its surrogates.

We have to dream big, to make things happen.

Notably, among the 100 pages of solutions in his book, Gabor emphasizes the role of non experts: Communities know much more about a person than is available in a few federal databases. Family and friends are aware of an individual’s substance abuse, violence or threats. It is known that many school shooters have communicated their intentions to their peers. We need to tap into the personal networks when conducting background checks, and communities and schools need to establish means of detecting early signs of a potential attack, and to make appropriate assessments with the availability of legal and other tools to intervene promptly when needed. Also, in my view, he continues, the criteria for disqualification from gun ownership is too narrow and we should examine, in addition to mental illness, such factors that predict potential violence as alcohol and drug abuse.

Luckily for his wife, Christene, who is one of our most active League members, the good doctor engages in moments of levity and pleasure. They enjoy walking, hiking, and seriously listening to all kinds of music – James Brown, Big Band, Classic Rock, or Bluegrass.  And he indulges in the “pleasure of exotic ethnic and spicy food.”

Another of his pleasures would be for his exhaustive studies to be widely circulated–to inform the electorate and help them to enact real change to confront gun violence in America.

For more information, or a copy of the book, access the website:

Tom Gabor, Ph.D.

Criminologist and Sociologist

Author, Confronting Gun Violence in America (Amazon’s #1 new release in Criminology)