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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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Views of democracy and society and support for political violence in the USA: findings from a nationally representative survey

September 29, 2023

BackgroundCurrent conditions in the USA suggest an increasing risk for political violence. Little is known about the prevalence of beliefs that might lead to political violence, about support for and personal willingness to engage in political violence, and about how those measures vary with individual characteristics, lethality of violence, political objectives that violence might advance, or specific populations as targets.MethodsThis cross-sectional US nationally representative survey was conducted on May 13 to June 2, 2022, of adult members of the Ipsos KnowledgePanel. Outcomes are weighted, population-representative proportions of respondents endorsing selected beliefs about American democracy and society and violence to advance political objectives.ResultsThe analytic sample included 8620 respondents; 50.5% (95% confidence interval (CI) 49.3%, 51.7%) were female; and weighted mean (± standard deviation) age was 48.4 (± 18.0) years. Nearly 1 in 5 (18.9%, 95% CI 18.0%, 19.9%) agreed strongly or very strongly that "having a strong leader for America is more important than having a democracy"; 16.2% (95% CI 15.3%, 17.1%) agreed strongly or very strongly that "in America, native-born white people are being replaced by immigrants," and 13.7% (95% CI 12.9%, 14.6%) agreed strongly or very strongly that "in the next few years, there will be civil war in the United States." One-third of respondents (32.8%, 95% CI 31.7%, 33.9%) considered violence to be usually or always justified to advance at least 1 of 17 specific political objectives. Among all respondents, 7.7% (95% CI 7.0%, 8.4%) thought it very or extremely likely that within the next few years, in a situation where they believe political violence is justified, "I will be armed with a gun"; 1.1% (95% CI 0.9%, 1.4%) thought it very or extremely likely that "I will shoot someone with a gun." Support for political violence and for the use of firearms in such violence frequently declined with increasing age, education, and income.ConclusionsSmall but concerning proportions of the population consider violence, including lethal violence, to be usually or always justified to advance political objectives. Prevention efforts should proceed urgently based on the best evidence available.

Trends in Domestic Violence and Firearm Domestic Violence During COVID‑19 in Five US Cities

July 21, 2023

PurposeThe COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social and economic disruptions may be associated with increased risk for reported domestic violence (DV) and firearm-involved DV (FDV). This study examines trends in DV, FDV, and the proportion of DV incidents that involved firearms (FDV/DV) in five large US cities before and during the coronavirus pandemic.MethodWe examined monthly trends in DV and FDV during January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2020, which included the early part of the pandemic, using Poisson or negative binomial regressions. We used binomial regressions to assess trends in FDV/DV. We considered the onset of the pandemic to be March 2020.ResultsFindings varied across outcomes and cities. DV decreased in three cities: Kansas City (Incidence Rate Ratio (IRR), 0.88; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.86–0.90), Los Angeles (IRR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.99–1.00), and Nashville (IRR, 0.99; 95% CI, 0.99–1.00) relative to trends pre-pandemic. FDV increased in three cities: Chicago (IRR, 1.05; 95% CI, 1.02–1.08), Los Angeles (IRR, 1.08; 95% CI, 1.06–1.10), and Nashville (IRR, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01–1.05) and decreased in one: Kansas City (IRR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.87–0.90). FDV/DV increased in three cities: Chicago (Risk Ratio (RR), 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02–1.06), Los Angeles (RR, 1.09; 95% CI, 1.07–1.11), and Nashville (RR, 1.04; 95% CI, 1.02–1.06).ConclusionsWe found variation among cities in trends in reported DV, FDV, and FDV/DV during the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. Variation may be due to a number of factors, including differences in baseline DV and FDV rates; economic strain and unemployment; compliance with social distancing; firearm ownership and purchasing; the availability of DV services; delays in court processing and the early release of prisoners; and community-law enforcement relations.

Anticipatory concerns about violence within social networks: Prevalence and implications for prevention

January 11, 2023

Most research on exposure to violence focuses on direct victimization, offending, or witnessed violence, yet many people also experience concerns about potential violence in their environments and social networks. Using a state-representative survey of California adults (n = 2870) administered in July 2020, we estimate the prevalence of anticipatory concerns about violence within respondents' social networks and describe characteristics of the persons at perceived risk of violence, reasons for respondents' concerns, and actions undertaken by respondents to reduce that risk. Approximately 1 in 5 respondents knew at least one person, usually a friend or extended family member, whom they perceived to be at risk of other- or self-directed violence. Among respondents living with the person at perceived risk, about one-quarter reported household firearm ownership. Alcohol and substance misuse and a history of violence were among respondents' top reasons for concern; serious mental illness and firearm access also contributed to concerns. About one-quarter of respondents with such concerns said harm was likely or very likely to occur in the next year. Most respondents reported having taken action to reduce the risk of violence, including providing resources and asking family or friends to help; few acted to reduce access to lethal means. The most common reasons for inaction were the perception that a dangerous situation was unlikely and that it was a personal matter. Our findings can help inform a broader understanding of exposure to violence and interventions that leverage the knowledge of those close to persons at risk to prevent violence.

Extreme risk protection orders, race/ethnicity, and equity: Evidence from California

August 6, 2022

Extreme risk protection orders (ERPOs) provide a civil mechanism to temporarily remove firearm access from individuals at high risk of harming themselves or others. Evidence and theory suggest that ERPOs can prevent firearm-related harm, but the policy's impact on racial/ethnic equity is largely unknown. To examine potential inequities by race/ethnicity in public perceptions and use of California's ERPO law, we drew on two complementary data sources: 1) a 2020 state-representative survey of California adults, and 2) ERPO court documents for the first 3 years of policy implementation (2016–2018). Majorities (54–89%) of all racial/ethnic groups reported that ERPOs are at least sometimes appropriate, and 64–94% were willing to ask a judge for an ERPO for a family member. However, Black and Hispanic/Latinx survey participants less often perceived ERPOs as appropriate and were less willing to serve as petitioners, with Black participants citing lack of knowledge about ERPOs and not trusting the system to be fair as their top reasons for unwillingness. Similarly, review of ERPO court documents revealed that no family or household members served as petitioners for Black and Hispanic/Latinx ERPO respondents. Additionally, Black respondents were the least likely to have documented access to a firearm and legal representation in court. Racial/ethnic equity in ERPO use may be improved by reducing barriers to petitioning, incorporating non-law enforcement intervention professionals like behavioral health specialists into the ERPO process, providing legal assistance to respondents and petitioners, and investing in the social safety net.