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This special collection brings together evidence and insights from nonprofits, foundations, and research organizations working to understand the full impact of firearm use and gun violence in the US. By providing us with analyses of current state and federal laws as well as valuable data on suicides, homicides, accidents, and mass shootings, these organizations seek to inform sound public policy and to curb this ongoing public health epidemic.

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"Gun Violence" by M+R Glasgow licensed under CC 2.0

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Evidence Concerning the Regulation of Firearms Design, Sale, and Carrying on Fatal Mass Shootings in the United States

January 30, 2020

This report calculates state‐level annual incidence of fatal mass shootings from 1984–2017. The analysis suggests that laws requiring firearm purchasers to be licensed through a background check process supported by fingerprints and laws banning large‐capacity magazines are the most effective gun policies for reducing fatal mass shootings.

The Impact of Handgun Purchaser Licensing Laws on Gun Violence

June 12, 2019

There is a major flaw in federal firearm laws in the U.S. and in most states' laws; prohibited purchasers can acquire firearms from unlicensed private sellers without subjecting themselves to background checks and record-keeping requirements. Violent criminals and traffickers exploit this weakness with fatal consequences. This report discusses the need to improve background checks and handgun purchaser licensing laws which would result in reduced gun deaths.

Policies to Reduce Gun Violence in Illinois: Research, Policy Analysis, and Recommendations

February 1, 2019

Compared to many other states, Illinois has relatively strong firearm laws. Nonetheless, there are several ways in which Illinois could further strengthen its laws to reduce the diversion of guns for criminal use and gun violence. This report is comprised of three main section. First, it provides an overview of current law in Illinois related to standards and processes for obtaining a Firearm Owner Identification (FOID) license, background checks, drug and alcohol related prohibitions, domestic violence prohibitions, extreme risk protection orders, and concealed carry of firearms. Second, we review existing evidence on the effectiveness of firearm-related laws including the impacts of purchaser licensing to reduce diversion and homicide, domestic violence restraining orders and intimate partner violence, discretion in issuing concealed carry licenses, extending prohibitions to individuals with multiple alcohol-related convictions, and local community-based interventions to reduce gun violence. Third, we conclude the report by offering ten evidence-based recommendations to reduce gun violence in Illinois.

Estimating the Effects of Law Enforcement and Public Health Interventions Intended to Reduce Gun Violence in Baltimore

January 11, 2018

Baltimore has long been plagued by high rates of homicides, with guns playing an important role. City and law enforcement officials in Baltimore have attributed much of the gun violence to the illegal drug economy and the availability of guns for criminal use. For many years, the most visible and direct approaches employed by the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) to curb gun violence have focused on enforcement of drug laws to reduce violent crime associated with the drug trade. In the most ambitious and resource-intensive efforts, the objective of law enforcement actions has been to "take down" or severely weaken organized groups selling illegal drugs through targeted arrests and prosecutions. Such efforts are intended to both remove violent criminals from communities and, ideally, deter violent crime. Most of these targeted drug law enforcement efforts have been place-focused, targeting "hot spots" for homicides and shootings. Within these hot spots, there is often some degree of targeting of individuals believed to be important drivers of gun violence, based on intelligence gathered, individuals' histories of criminal offending, and individuals' criminal associates.In the early 2000s, Baltimore City leadership encouraged aggressive enforcement of drug laws, resulting in the arrests of tens of thousands of individuals for drug possession and drug distribution. However, beginning mid-2007, the BPD shifted its focus to initiatives aimed at apprehending violent criminals and targeting illegal gun possession. We used data from January 1, 2003, through December 23, 2017, to estimate the effects of place-focused policing and prevention initiatives that were focused on criminal offending involving guns and/or drugs to estimate the effects of those interventions on homicides and nonfatal shootings. An overview of the specific interventions assessed in this study follows.

Concealed Carry of Firearms: Facts vs. Fiction

November 16, 2017

arrying a concealed handgun in public has the potential to enable would-be victims of violent crime to thwart attempted acts of violence, but also poses potential threats to public safety. Because of these potential threats, states have historically regulated the carrying of concealed firearms. These regulations have included requiring a permit to carry a concealed weapon and basing the issuance of these permits on whether applicants met training, safety, and even personal character requirements. Additionally, states have limited the places in which the permit holder could carry a concealed firearm.

Firearms on College Campuses: Research Evidence nad Policy Implications

October 15, 2016

This report reviews the evidence surrounding the relationship between civilian gun carrying and violent crime and mass shootings and factors that are unique to public safety on college campuses. Policies removing restrictions on civilian gun carrying are based on claims or assumptions about civilian gun use, the impact of state Right-to-Carry (RTC) laws, and the nature of mass shootings that are not supported by or are contrary to the best available research. The incidence of civilian self-defensive gun use (SDGU) is difficult to discern as available data are based on self-report, and distinguishing aggressor from victim in interpersonal altercations can be highly subjective. Nonetheless, data from the National Crime Victimization Survey indicate that SDGU is relatively rare (about 102,000 self-reported incidents per year affecting 0.9% of all violent crime victimizations) and is no more effective in reducing victims' risk of injury than other victim responses to attempted violent crimes. Research led by John Lott, author of More Guns, Less Crime, suggesting that RTC laws prevent violent crime has important flaws that biased his findings. The most recent and rigorous research on RTC laws that corrects for these flaws consistently finds that RTC laws are associated with more violent crime. These findings may seem counterintuitive because concealed-carry permit holders have, as a group, low rates of criminal offending and must pass a background check to ensure that they do not have any condition, such as a felony conviction, that prohibits firearm ownership. But, in states with low standards for legal gun ownership, legal gun owners account for the majority of persons incarcerated for committing violent crimes with firearms.

Commentary: Evidence to Guide Gun Violence Prevention in America

January 7, 2015

Gun violence is a major threat to the public's health and safety in the United States. The articles in this volume's symposium on gun violence reveal the scope of the problem and new trends in mortality rates from gunfire. Leading scholars synthesize research evidence that demonstrates the ability of numerous policies and programs -- each consistent with lessons learned from successful efforts to combat public health problems -- to prevent gun violence. Each approach presents challenges to successful implementation. Future research should inform efforts to assess which approaches are most effective and how to implement evidence-based interventions most effectively.

Policy Recommendations & Models

Effects of Policies Designed to Keep Firearms from High-Risk Individuals

January 7, 2015

This article summarizes and critiques available evidence from studies published between 1999 and August 2014 on the effects of policies designed to keep firearms from high-risk individuals in the United States. Some prohibitions for high-risk individuals (e.g., those under domestic violence restraining orders, violent misdemeanants) and procedures for checking for more types of prohibiting conditions are associated with lower rates of violence. Certain laws intended to prevent prohibited persons from accessing firearms -- rigorous permit-to-purchase, comprehensive background checks, strong regulation and oversight of gun dealers, and requiring gun owners to promptly report lost or stolen firearms -- are negatively associated with the diversion of guns to criminals. Future research is needed to examine whether these laws curtail nonlethal gun violence and whether the effects of expanding prohibiting conditions for firearm possession are modified by the presence of policies to prevent diversion.

Policy Recommendations & Models; Purchasing Firearms

The Case for Gun Policy Reforms in America

October 1, 2012

Debates about gun control often drift towards general arguments about whether guns make us safer or less safe, and gun control is equated with restricting gun ownership. However, with recent Supreme Court decisions overturning laws which ban firearm possession in the District of Columbia and Chicago, current gun control policies in the U.S. do not disarm lawabiding adults over the age of 21. Rather, gun control laws today focus on one or more of four general objectives. These laws aim to:Define conditions that prohibit a person from possessing firearms;Implement regulations to prevent prohibited persons from possessing firearms;Restrict carrying of concealed firearms outside the home; andRegulate the design of firearms to enhance public and personal safety.In this report we draw upon research evidence to suggest how improvements in each of these types of gun policies could enhance public safety in the United States.

Policy Recommendations & Models

How Cities Can Combat Illegal Guns and Gun Violence

October 1, 2006

Though gun violence peaked in American cities in the early 1990s, firearms are still used in more than 30 homicides per day in the U.S. One major challenge is how to stanch the flow of guns to criminals. Researchers from the School's Center for Gun Policy and Research have recently zeroed in on illegal sales by licensed dealers (the dominant means of diverting guns into illegal markets). These sales include unrecorded, "off the books" transactions and "straw purchases" in which a person unable to pass a federal background check relies on another individual for the purchase. Daniel Webster, MPH, ScD '91, Center co-director, wants to increase the accountability of gun dealers. This report outlines how to reduce illegal gun trafficking, reduce illegal gun carrying, and use technology to prevent gun violence.

Policy Recommendations & Models