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 Glasgoz is licensed under CC 2.0

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Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis

February 20, 2021

Guns have the potential to greatly amplify violence, as they can inflict serious — often deadly —injuries on many people in a short time. In the United States, gun violence is a major public healthproblem and a leading cause of premature death.

Preventing Gun Violence

April 4, 2018

To enhance America's public health response to gun violence, we need:*Better Surveillance. In 2017, the National Violent Death Reporting System collected data from 40 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Information on firearm fatalities from all 50 states and the District of Columbia would provide a more complete picture of gun violence in the United States.11In fiscal year 2018, Congress provided $23.5 million to expand the NVDRS to all 50states. We need to maintain this funding for nationwide implementation because the data collected would prove invaluable for the design of targeted gun violence prevention strategies.*More Research. Several laws have effectively restricted federally funded research related to gun violence, as well as access to complete crime gun data.12,13,14 Yet information is needed to fill critical research gaps. For example, there is almost no credible evidence that right-to-carry laws increase or decrease violent crime, almost no empirical evidence to support dozens of violence prevention programs for children, scant data on the effects of different gun safety technologies on violence and crime, and scant data on the link between firearms policy and suicidal behavior.15,16We must expand the collection of data and research related to gun violence and other violent crime deaths in order to better understand the causes and develop appropriate solutions. Congress should provide unrestricted funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for research into the causes of gun violence.*Common-Sense Gun Policies. APHA supports requiring criminal background checks for all firearms purchases, including those sold at gun shows and on the Internet. Currently unlicensed private firearms sellers are exempt from conducting criminal background checks on buyers at gun shows or over the Internet, giving felons, the mentally ill and others prohibited from owning firearms access to weapons. We also support reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, which expired in 2004.*Expanded Access to Mental Health Services. Funding for mental health services has been declining, and funding for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration continues to be threatened by budget cuts including cuts due to sequestration. We must ensure that state, local and community-based behavioral health systems have the resources they need to provide much-needed care.

Red Flag Laws: Helping Prevent Mass Shootings

March 27, 2018

Like many mass shooters, the 19-year-old suspected of shooting and killing at least 17 people and injuring 17 others at a high school in Parkland, Florida displayed warning signs prior to the shooting. According to media reports, the alleged shooter was known to have firearms, and his mother had contacted law enforcement regarding his behavior on multiple occasions. Unfortunately, at the time Florida did not have a Red Flag Law—a policy increasingly being adopted by states that empowers family members and law enforcement to seek an Extreme Risk Protection Order, a court order temporarily restricting a person's access to guns when they pose a danger to self or others. Like Florida—which enacted its own Red Flag Law with bipartisan support in March 2018—states around the country are turning to the policy as a common-sense way to help reduce gun violence and gun suicide. Six states have Red Flag Laws in place—and bills are currently pending in another 22 states.Red Flags Laws can save lives by creating a way for family members and law enforcement to act before warning signs escalate into tragedies.

Make Extreme Risk Protection Orders Available in Every S

March 23, 2018

What is an extreme risk protection order (ERPO)?An extreme risk protection order is a civil remedy that allows family members or law enforcement to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from a person who poses an imminent risk of harm to themself or others. For the duration of the protection order, the individual is also prohibited from buying new guns.

Enable the CDC to Research Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue

March 13, 2018

For two decades, as the result of a coordinated attack by the gun lobby, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been hamstrung from researching gun violence as a public health crisis. In 1996, congressional allies of the gun lobby added a rider to the CDC budget that prevented the agency from spending any funds to "advocate or promote gun control." At the same time, Congress reduced the funding appropriated to the CDC by $2.6 mil-lion—the exact amount that the CDC spent on gun violence research the previous year. In 2011, a similar rider was added to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) budget. The combination of the rider and a lack of dedicated funding has had a substantial chilling effect on research into gun violence.

Arming Teachers Is a Dangerous Proposal

March 12, 2018

Schools are meant to be places of sanctuary, safety, and learning for children. But, as the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, shows, children are also victims of America's gun violence crisis, even while attending school.After shootings like Parkland, and as a way to further their "guns everywhere" agenda, the NRA takes every opportunity to push for policies that would arm teachers. There is no evidence that arming teachers will protect children in schools. To the contrary, research indicates that arming teachers will make children less safe.This is why school safety experts—including teachers, school resource officers, and law enforcement organizations—oppose the policy. If lawmakers want to prevent school shootings, they must adopt proactive, commonsense solutions to prevent people with dangerous histories from obtaining guns in the first place.

Who Gets Killed in America? The National Violent Death Reporting System Is Keeping Track

April 25, 2017

In 2014, over 42,000 US residents killed themselves, and another 16,000 were murdered, making violent death a critical an important public health problem.1 The National Violent Death Reporting System, or NVDRS, is a one-stop source of information on suicides, homicides, unintentional fatal shootings and law enforcement-related fatalities (excluding execu-tions), including who the victims are and when, where and how they were injured. It was begun by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002, with data from just six states. As of 2017, it tracks violent deaths in 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and aims to expand to all 50 states and U.S territories. What makes the NVDRS so valuable to policy-makers, health authorities, law enforcement agencies, researchers and advocacy groups is its status as the only state-based, active surveillance system that merges, standardizes and anonymizes data from multiple sources to provide a rich, detailed picture of violent death in America.

Removing Barriers and Reinvesting in Public Health Research on Gun Violence

March 9, 2016

For two decades, public health research on gun violence has been stifled by a restrictive law and lack of funding. 

The Real Story Behind School Shootings

October 13, 2014

This factsheet highlights the ease with which young people are able to access guns, which is deeply troubling. Surveys show that 1 in 20 high school students reported carrying a weapon in the past 30 days. Keeping our schools safe starts at home, and parents have a fundamental role to play in averting school violence. In the United States, 1.7 million children have access to an unlocked, loaded gun in their home. Tragedies could be avoided if parents would only take simple steps to ensure that these guns are not accessible to their children

Statistics & Surveys

Gun Laws and Violence Against Women

March 1, 2013

To fully combat violence against women in America, Congress must act to strengthen our gun laws. Women in the United States are far more likely to be murdered with guns than they are in any other developed nation. More than half of women murdered with guns in the U.S. are killed by intimate partners, and more than half of mass shootings are acts of domestic or family violence. This violence is directly related to our weak gun laws -- and requiring a background check for every gun sale would reduce violence against women and save lives.

Policy Recommendations & Models

Permit-to-Purchase Licensing for Handguns

January 1, 2013

This fact sheet explains the concept of permit-to-purchase licensing for handguns.

Purchasing Firearms

Major School Shootings in the United States Since 1997

December 17, 2012

This is a listing, compiled from newspaper reports, of major school shootings in the United States since 1997.

Statistics & Surveys