Focused Deterrence and the Prevention of Violent Gun Injuries: Practice, Theoretical Principles, and Scientific Evidence

by Anthony A. Braga; David L. Weisburd

Jan 7, 2015
Focused deterrence strategies are a relatively new addition to a growing portfolio of evidence-based violent gun injury prevention practices available to policy makers and practitioners. These strategies seek to change offender behavior by understanding the underlying violence-producing dynamics and conditions that sustain recurring violent gun injury problems and by implementing a blended strategy of law enforcement, community mobilization, and social service actions. Consistent with documented public health practice, the focused deterrence approach identifies underlying risk factors and causes of recurring violent gun injury problems, develops tailored responses to these underlying conditions, and measures the impact of implemented interventions. This article reviews the practice, theoretical principles, and evaluation evidence on focused deterrence strategies. Although more rigorous randomized studies are needed, the available empirical evidence suggests that these strategies generate noteworthy gun violence reduction impacts and should be part of a broader portfolio of violence prevention strategies available to policy makers and practitioners.
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