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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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Shooting Straight: What TV Stories Tell Us About Gun Safety, How These Depictions Affect Audiences, and How We Can Do Better

September 29, 2022

On average, 110 people are killed by guns every day in the United States, with Black Americans disproportionately impacted. Young Black men are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than young white men, and between 2019 and 2020, deaths by guns increased by 39.5% among Black people. In 2021, for the first time, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared gun violence a "serious public threat."Firearms are the leading cause of death among children and teens, increasing by 29% from 2019 to 2020 alone. School shootings receive disproportionate media and policy attention and are a major source of fear, but 85% of child victims of gun homicide die in their homes, and over 80% of child gun suicides involve a gun owned by a family member. In addition, myths persist, such as the belief that gun violence is primarily caused by mental illness, or that a civilian "good guy" can intervene in an active shooting and save lives if they are allowed to carry a loaded gun.The prevalence and impact of gun violence in entertainment media has been the subject of extensive research. Little is known, however, about how often gun safety and prevention measures are portrayed or discussed, in what contexts, or the impact of such portrayals on audiences. To address this gap, the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center's Media Impact Project (MIP) conducted a research project with support from Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. This included:-A content analysis of popular, scripted television dramas from the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 seasons.-An experimental study examining the impact of two major gun safety storylines on audiences' knowledge, beliefs, and policy support.

More Than Just a Piece of Paper: A Toolkit for Advocates

January 25, 2021

Over the past ten months, BWJP/NRCDVF has researched public attitudes toward firearm-involved intimate partner violence, as well as attitudinal impediments to disarming domestic violence offenders, with support from The Joyce Foundation. The culmination of these efforts is this resource: More Than Just a Piece of Paper: A Toolkit for Advocates on Firearms and Domestic Violence During COVID-19. This toolkit provides advocates with tools for engaging conversations (both locally and on the state level) on the impact of firearms on domestic violence victim-survivors, particularly during periods of wide-spread crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Social Media as an Opportunity for Service

May 12, 2017

Social media platforms are popular and serve as a natural extension of our social lives. However, online platforms are emerging as places where people also engage in risky behaviors and express trauma, grief, and emotional distress. This is particularly striking among youth involved in gun violence, whose social media activity often escalates and amplifies real-world violence and illuminates their experiences with grief and trauma.The high visibility of harmful behavior, trauma, grief, and emotional distress on social media gives service providers the opportunity to know exactly who is at the highest risk for committing or being victimized by violence and in greatest need of service. We need to capitalize on this opportunity by giving anti-violence professionals a new method of responding to risky social media use. As modes of communication have changed to favor online spaces, so too must our interventions.Partnering with NYC Cure Violence and researchers from NYU, the Crime Commission developed a multi-tiered intervention model called E-Responder, which aims to intervene with youth on social media, connect them to additional services, de-escalate conflict, and instill long-term life skills in critical areas.Programs like E-Responder are designed to reach out to youth within these virtual spaces of conflict in order to prevent violence. Additional interventions that seek to promote skills and reduce risks with others should capitalize on the opportunity to use social media in their work. In this way we can all ensure that the best strategies and resources are available to young people in the places where they are actively engaged and expressing themselves.

Mass Murder and the Mass Media: Understanding the Construction of the Social Problem of Mass Shootings in the US

May 1, 2016

Nearly as soon as the first shot is fired in a mass shooting, the news media already are rushing to break coverage, the likes of which typically last days or, in the more extreme cases, weeks. Though mass shootings are rare in occurrence, the disproportionate amount of coverage they receive in the media leads the public to believe that they occur at a much more regular frequency than they do. In order to understand how the public comes to understand mass shooting events, however, one first must understand how the stories are constructed by the media. The present study takes this important step by examining The New York Times coverage of 91 shootings occurring between 2000 and 2012. Using Best's (1987, 2006) three-stage model for the creation of social problems, this study considers the naming or defining of the issue, the incorporation of examples, and the use of statistics. The findings indicate that the coverage (a) overemphasized the shooters, (b) highlighted the most extreme examples for comparison, including Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing, and (c) relied heavily on the use of statistics, particularly victim counts, while omitting any national data that could ground these events in the larger discourse of violence in the nation. Thus, the disproportional coverage of mass shootings, both individually and as a collective phenomenon, serves to solidify these events as a social problem in the US. Directions for future research, as well as potential policy implications for the coverage, also are discussed.