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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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The Disarm Hate Act Would Help Prevent Hate-Motivated Gun Violence

September 13, 2023

Weak gun laws at the federal level and in states such as Florida enable people radicalized by identity-based hate to commit deadly acts of violence against vulnerable communities. Every day, more than 28 hate crimes are committed with a gun, and with the number of hate crimes that law enforcement reports to the FBI at an all-time high, it is more urgent than ever for Congress to pass legislation that bars individuals with a history of committing hate crimes from accessing firearms.On September 13, 2023, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and Maxwell Frost (D-FL) reintroduced the Disarm Hate Act. This legislation would help prevent acts of hate-motivated gun violence by prohibiting individuals convicted of violent-misdemeanor hate crimes from purchasing or possessing firearms.

The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, 1 Year Later

August 10, 2023

Less than two weeks after the racially motivated mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, in May 2022, the third-deadliest school shooting in U.S. history claimed the lives of 21 people in Uvalde, Texas, including 19 children. Following decades of inaction, these horrific events spurred action in Congress. Responding to calls from victims' families and gun violence prevention activists, President Joe Biden and Democratic senators, including Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy and Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and Republican senators such as Texas Sen. John Cornyn and North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis reached across the aisle to pass the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (BSCA)—the most significant gun violence reduction legislation in 30 years.The BSCA demonstrates that it is possible for Congress to come together and pass legislation to curb gun violence. It is an important first step to addressing gun violence as the nation witnesses its devastating toll in rural, suburban, and urban areas. Now, however, progress must breed progress. By passing the BSCA, Congress laid the foundation for what must be a relentless campaign to combat America's gun violence epidemic with robust measures, including reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons, requiring a permit to purchase a firearm, instituting safe storage requirements, and making targeted efforts to address the epidemic's root causes. In order to build upon the success of the BSCA and effectively make the case for additional federal legislation, policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels must ensure that the BSCA's policies are properly implemented and that its billions of dollars in investments are successfully leveraged to reduce violence in U.S. communities.

8 Ways To Reduce Gun Violence in Minnesota

June 6, 2023

More recently, the Minnesota House and Senate, with the support of Gov. Tim Walz (D) and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan (D), took decisive action by 1) expanding background checks to include all firearm sales; and 2) passing an ERPO law that allows law enforcement and family members to petition a court for an order to temporarily remove firearms from an individual in crisis. Other notable efforts from Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan include distributing more than 40,000 free gun locks in 2022 as part of the "Make Minnesota Safe & Secure" initiative; launching a violent death data dashboard in 2023 through the Minnesota Department of Health to educate and inform stakeholders on trends in suicide, homicide, unintentional firearm deaths, law enforcement interventions, and other undetermined violent deaths in Minnesota; and proposing a $300 million investment plan for public safety funding in cities, counties, and Tribal governments across the state as part of the newly revised "One Minnesota" initiative.Gov. Walz and the gun safety majority in the Minnesota Legislature should be applauded for championing these commonsense solutions supported by a majority of voters. Policymakers must build on this momentum in the next legislative session by passing additional measures to protect the lives of all Minnesotans. To improve public safety further, Minnesota should consider the eight actions discussed in this report, as they would help keep all its communities safe from gun violence.

Centering Youth in Community Violence Interventions as Part of a Comprehensive Approach to Countering Gun Violence

October 11, 2022

Violent crime has been rising nationally since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and many elected officials, policymakers, and media outlets have mistakenly placed the blame on young people. For far too long, youth have been an easy scapegoat for the rising violence in America. Although the real drivers of this devastating trend are complex and far-reaching, the political motivation to point to a single reason for violent crime has spawned public discourse and policy developments that have harmed generations of youth, and particularly youth of color, for a problem they did not cause.According to a recent Sentencing Project analysis, only 7 percent of the people arrested in the United States in 2019 were younger than 18, a much smaller share than in years past. This trend continued across offense categories in 2020, with the share of crime committed by youth continuing to decline. In fact, from 2017 to 2020, the total number of youth arrested fell by 50 percent, the number of youth arrested for serious crimes fell by 38 percent, and the number of youth arrested for homicides fell by 8 percent. The overall number of homicides committed by youth did rise slightly from 2019 to 2020 along with the national trend, but the share of youth arrested for homicide was only 7.5 percent in 2020 and remains lower than in the preceding years.Although the trends in youth arrests are going in the right direction, the data on youth victims of gun violence tell a different story. Gun violence was the leading cause of death among children and teenagers in 2020. Black youth are 14 times more likely and Hispanic youth are three times more likely than white youth to die as a result of gun violence. Violent crime is the consequence of historic underinvestment in communities of color. A comprehensive approach to address crime and violence should direct resources back into communities of color that have been disproportionately affected and where historic divestment has resulted in a lack of proven public health and community safety infrastructure.This issue brief highlights the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to gun violence to meet the needs of young people. It discusses how community violence intervention (CVI) programs are an important part of that approach to stop the current cycle of violence and spotlights two programs that are working to meet youth where they are.

Guns Are Fueling the Rise in Domestic Extremist Violence Across the Country

September 15, 2022

Violent domestic extremism is on the rise and firearms are a pillar of this extremist ideology. A March 2021 assessment by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence found that domestic violent extremists motivated by white supremacy and anti-government ideology are the most lethal threats facing this country.Guns are the weapon of choice for domestic extremists, and easy access to guns plays a significant role in the frequency and lethality of these attacks. The January 6 insurrection on the Capitol Building by Trump supporters, militia groups, and right-wing extremists—some of whom were armed—was the result of anti-government propaganda and right-wing messaging suggesting that the election of President Joe Biden was fraudulent. This anti-government rhetoric and the dangerous attacks that result do not exist in a vacuum. For years, right-wing extremists have used this ideology as a basis for their dangerous attacks, such as the Bundy standoff in 2014 that led to hundreds of anti-government extremists taking up arms against federal agents. Then, just this year, an 18-year-old white supremacist used an AR-15 to shoot and kill 10 Black people and injured an additional 3 people in a Buffalo supermarket.In order to address the rise in domestic extremism, Congress and the administration must do more to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous and radicalized individuals.

Fact Sheet: Weak Gun Laws Are Driving Increases in Violent Crime

August 18, 2022

The rising violent crime rate over the past two years is a pressing issue that requires immediate action. While many have blamed the criminal justice reform movement for the rise in violent crime, these increases can largely be attributed to an alarming escalation in gun violence. If elected officials are serious about stopping violent crime, they need to prioritize and support stronger gun laws at both the state and federal levels.This fact sheet provides data that show the link between states' actions to weaken their gun laws and rising violent crime rates.

Continuing Efforts To Slow Violent Crime: Promising Innovations From 3 Democrat-Led Cities

July 27, 2022

Historically, the United States' approach to crime has been reactionary and overreliant on criminal legal sanctions, and it has failed to adequately address the social, health, and behavioral factors that drive crime. Still, as the country continues to grapple with a rise in gun violence, a new wave of "tough-on-crime" rhetoric has emerged, blaming progressive policies for the increase in violent crime. While violent crime rose across the country in 2020, progressive leaders in cities are investing resources into proven public health and community-based solutions to stop gun violence before it starts, and these cities are seeing early signs of success in stemming the tide.Rather than accept calls for tough-on-crime policies, leaders in Houston, Boston, and Newark, New Jersey, have taken a more holistic approach to prevent violence before it starts. These cities are three examples of jurisdictions that have implemented comprehensive public safety plans focused not only on stopping violent crime but also on prioritizing community-driven and public health-focused innovations that break the cycle of violence.

Guns and Anti-Government Extremism in Nevada

July 20, 2022

The rise in violent white supremacist and anti-government extremism has permeated across the United States in recent years. All eyes were on Washington, D.C., on January 6, 2021, when—after years of rising tensions instigated by former President Donald Trump and his supporters—hundreds of militia groups and right-wing extremists attacked the Capitol. More than one year later, on May 14, 2022, a white 18-year-old espousing the racist "great replacement theory" fatally shot 10 Black people in a Buffalo, New York, grocery store. This white supremacist conspiracy theory posits that white people across the globe are going to be replaced by people of color.These devastating attacks did not occur in a vacuum. Gun violence prevention advocates had cautioned for months that the dangerous rhetoric could manifest in violent, deadly extremism; however, many did not heed the warning. In 2016, the Center for American Progress—in partnership with the Institute for a Progressive Nevada—released a detailed report on anti-government violent extremism in Nevada that echoed across the country. Nevada has an infamous history of violent extremist and anti-government actions by some residents. Now, the state is at a crossroads, experiencing rising extremist rhetoric alongside calls for weaker gun laws that, if combined, could be devastating and result in higher levels of extremist violence.This report is an update on the 2016 Center for American Progress report and examines how the combination of rising violent extremist ideologies and weak gun laws can lead to disastrous results for state residents. This report also presents the following policy solutions, which can be used to prevent future violent extremist attacks:Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.Ban guns at polling places.Implement waiting periods for purchasing guns.Enact preemption laws.Address hate crimes.Enact a licensing law.

Weak Gun Laws Are Hurting Police Officers

June 27, 2022

Gun violence against police officers is a major problem in the United States, but elected officials are still adopting counterproductive measures opposed by law enforcement agencies.Policing is a perilous profession, and officers often encounter dangerous situations in the course of their duties. These risks are even higher in states with weak gun laws. Yet in many states, the same politicians that claim to support police agencies also push to weaken gun laws--despite law enforcement agencies' opposition--and further endanger officers' lives. If elected officials are serious about protecting police officers, they must stop passing dangerous gun laws and increasing police officers' risk of experiencing gun violence.This fact sheet both provides data that point to the prominent role of firearms in police officer fatalities and argues for stronger, commonsense gun laws.

Community-Based Violence Interventions: Proven Strategies To Reduce Violent Crime

June 15, 2022

Across America, communities are struggling to combat rising gun violence. Although overall crime rates remain low, the sale of firearms and instances of gun homicides have caused violent crime to increase dramatically since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2019 to 2020, homicides increased a staggering 28 percent, and those homicides were largely driven by guns. This violence has especially harmed communities of color, who have been disproportionately affected by not only gun violence but also economic setbacks stemming from the pandemic.In response to the rising rates of gun violence, many advocates and stakeholders are calling for community-based violence intervention (CVI) programs. These programs have proven successful in reducing gun violence and violent crime more broadly in communities over the past two decades—in some communities by as much as 60 percent. Despite proven effectiveness, CVI programs often do not have sufficient resources, making broader implementation efforts challenging. As interest around CVIs continues to grow, this fact sheet explains how CVI programs can help address gun violence and provide the necessary resources to communities most in need.

Gun Violence Is Having a Devastating Impact on Young People

June 10, 2022

From 2019 to 2020, gun homicides among children and teenagers rose dramatically. As a result, firearms are now the leading cause of death for Americans ages 1 to 17. In addition, young Americans are suffering from a rapid and devastating rise in school shootings, increasingly mourning the loss of a parent due to firearm-related violence, and experiencing nonfatal gunshot injuries and gunshot threats at an alarming frequency.Despite these concerning trends, some elected officials refuse to protect our youth from gun-related crimes. Instead, they are blocking commonsense gun safety laws and even pushing for counterproductive measures that would further endanger children and teenagers. This must change. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Community-Based Violence Intervention Programs

June 3, 2022

States, cities, and rural communities across the United States are grappling with rising gun violence. While overall crime rates dropped from 2019 to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a spike in firearm sales and gun homicides, growing mistrust between police and the communities they serve, and great economic and social instability. Black and Hispanic communities disproportionately bear the brunt of this instability: They are not only experiencing increased gun violence to a greater degree but also have been hardest hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic and have had resources divested from them for generations.In order to respond to gun violence and address its root causes, communities most affected are banding together to advocate for greater investments in resources outside the criminal legal system that increase safety. Community stakeholders are also working together with their local governments in new and innovative ways to respond to instances of violence and protect their neighborhoods. These include supporting community reinvestment initiatives and building new violence prevention and intervention programs. One tool that is gaining popularity and has proved to be effective is community-based violence interventions (CVI). CVI programs serve as a vital way to connect community resources to the people who need them most, addressing the root causes of gun violence in a holistic way that cannot be done by law enforcement or local government alone.This report addresses some of the most frequent questions around CVI programs. It provides guidance not only to community leaders but also to policymakers seeking to engage with and support these programs.