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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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U.S. Gun Policy in a Global Context

January 1, 2018

Some of the most compelling evidence for a causal connection between gun prevalence and suicide or homicide rates comes from the experiences of three countries—Australia, Switzerland, and Israel—where changes in law or policy may have led to marked shifts in gun ownership rates.

The Relationship Between Firearm Prevalence and Violent Crime

January 1, 2018

In the past 12 years, several new studies found that increases in the prevalence of gun ownership are associated with increases in violent crime. Whether this association is attributable to gun prevalence causing more violent crime is unclear. If people are more likely to acquire guns when crime rates are rising or high, then the same pattern of evidence would be expected. An important limitation of all studies in this area is the lack of direct measures of the prevalence of gun ownership.

Mass Shootings: Definitions and Trends

January 1, 2018

There is no standard definition of what constitutes a mass shooting. Media outlets, academic researchers, and law enforcement agencies frequently use different definitions when discussing mass shootings, leading to different assessments of how frequently mass shootings occur and whether they are more common now than they were a decade or two ago. 

Restricting Access to Firearms Among Individuals at Risk for or Convicted of Domestic Violence or Violent Crime

January 1, 2018

Many states have implemented laws designed to prevent domestic violence perpetrators from acquiring or retaining firearms. Evidence suggests that domestic violence–related prohibited-possessor policies may reduce homicide rates.

Education Campaigns and Clinical Interventions for Promoting Safe Storage

January 1, 2018

Safe storage of firearms may prevent suicide and unintentional injuries and deaths. There is research evidence that child-access prevention laws, which require safe storage practices, can reduce suicides and unintentional injuries and deaths. While there is limited evidence that education campaigns have successfully promoted safe storage of firearms, there is evidence that clinicians who counsel families to store guns safely can influence behavior, particularly when devices, such as gun locks, are given away for free.

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