In the Caucasus We Count

WiP: Gun Control in Georgia, 30 April - Matthew Light


American Councils, CRRC and ARISC present the 11th talk in the Spring 2014 Works-in-Progress Series!

Matthew Light, University of Toronto
"Gun Control in Georgia"

Wednesday, 30 April, 2014 at 6:15pm
EPF/CRRC-Georgia, Kavsadze St. 3, Tbilisi

Contemporary Georgia features relatively lenient policies on possession of handguns. Citizens may obtain a license to keep such weapons at home for self-defense, subject to rules on safe storage and periodic inspection of privately owned handguns. This policy outcome is surprising for several reasons. Georgian policy strongly diverges from the highly restrictive policies on gun ownership that were in force during the Soviet period, and which persist to this day in neighboring post-Soviet states. Moreover, given that post-Soviet Georgia went through a long period of political and social turmoil in which gun violence was rampant, one might have expected more stringent policies to be enacted. I review several possible explanations for Georgia’s unusual gun policy trajectory, ideological (the libertarian attitudes of Georgian legislators in the former ruling party), pragmatic (the difficulty of disarming the population), and social-cultural (public and elite assumptions about the role of weapons in society and their potential threat to public order).

Matthew Light is Assistant Professor of Criminology at the University of Toronto. He studies migration control, policing and criminal justice, primarily in the post-Soviet region.


W-i-P is an ongoing academic discussion series based in Tbilisi, Georgia, that takes place at the Eurasian Partnership Foundation at Kavsadze St. 3. It is co-organized by the Caucasus Research Resource Centers (CRRC), the American Councils for International Education: ACTR/ACCELS, and the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC). All of the talks are free and open to the public.

The purpose of the W-i-P series is to provide support and productive criticism to those researching and developing academic projects pertaining the Caucasus region.

Would you like to present at one of the W-i-P sessions? Send an e-mail to