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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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K-12 School Shootings in Context: New Findings from The American School Shooting Study (TASSS)

August 23, 2023

The American School Shooting Study (TASSS) is an ongoing mixed-method project funded by the National Institute of Justice to catalog US school shootings. It has amassed data based on open sources and other public materials dating back to 1990. This brief presents new insights from TASSS, diving deeper into the database's potential to examine the locations, timing, and student involvement of youth-perpetrated gun violence.

Can Mass Shootings Be Stopped? To Address the Problem, We Must Better Understand the Phenomenon: 2023 Edition

July 27, 2023

The mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, happened over two decades ago, yet it remains etched in the national consciousness. To this day, communities still are struggling to find solutions to the complex and multifaceted nature of mass shootings. Understanding the unique context of the mass public shootings phenomenon is necessary for policymakers, practitioners, and other vested stakeholders to work to reduce these incidents and their impacts. This brief provides updated analyses from the last two years (2021–22), building on previous work by the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium to identify trends and broader considerations related to mass public shootings.

Curbing the Illicit Market: Enhancing Firearm Regulations to Reduce Gun Violence

May 24, 2023

Almost all of the firearms that end up on the streets are first sold through legally appointed federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) following manufacture or import. Given the unique ease of access to firearms in the US, there is a growing sense of urgency to better understand how crime guns are acquired and from where they originate to support much stronger supply-side efforts to address gun violence. Prior research has focused extensively on the large "secondary market" for firearms, where guns are transferred between unlicensed persons or to those legally prohibited from buying a firearm. In contrast, the focus of this policy brief is on the "primary market," which includes the legal retail sale of firearms from federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs) to private consumers.

Privately Made Firearms and Ghost Guns: Preventing Further Proliferation with Policy

October 6, 2022

This analysis defines "ghost guns" as:Ghost guns are untraceable firearms that are typically constructed out of plastic or 3D-printed parts and can be assembled by individuals in the privacy of their own home. They do not have the unique serial numbers required by the Gun Control Act of 1968 for all domestic and imported firearms. While the technical term is "Privately Made Firearms" (PMFs), the lack of a serial number and thus the difficulty law enforcement agencies experience in identifying the manufacturer, retailer, or owner of the firearm, has earned these firearms the moniker of "ghost guns." There are several different types of ghost guns, but the two most frequently discussed are 3D-printed guns and guns made from "80 percent lowers."The Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium published a brief Ghost Guns: A Haunting New Reality in April 2021 authored by Nicholas Simons. The original report has been updated to reflect changes in policies to address privately made firearms and ghost guns made at the federal and state level and provide new data. The updates were authored by Jaclyn Schildkraut, interim executive director of the Regional Gun Violence Research Consortium and Julianna Caruso.

The Effects of Firearm Violence on Children: Implications for Its Prevention in Our Schools and Communities

August 31, 2022

Exposure to firearm violence persists as an urgent public health problem because of its prevalence and impact. In the United States, firearms are now the leading cause of death among all children, ages 1-19 years old, and nonfatal firearm assaults occur at more than twice the rate for youth compared to the general population. Furthermore, recent work has highlighted that 92 percent of all firearm-related deaths of 5- to 14-year-old children in high-income countries occur in the US. Firearm violence affects children not only through direct exposure, such as being threatened, injured, or killed by a firearm, but also through indirect exposure by hearing or witnessing incidents or by losing a peer or family member to this form of violence. Tragically, the burden of firearm violence falls disproportionally on children of color, particularly young Black men between the ages of 15 and 24 in urban settings. Research further illustrates that Black children between the ages of 5 and 17 years were exposed to violence in their neighborhoods 4.44 times more frequently than white children prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and that these stark disparities have become even more pronounced since. An analysis of homicides in Washington, DC, in 2021 found that 89 percent of children of color (compared to 57 percent of white children) lived within a half mile of a homicide. In this brief, we describe the impact of exposure to violence on youth, review factors that are protective, highlight prevention and interventions for this urgent issue, and provide implications for policy.

Policy Solutions to Address Mass Shootings

August 1, 2021

In the past decade, mass shootings, particularly those that take place in public areas, have increasingly become part of the national conversation in the United States. Mass public shootings instill widespread fear, in part because of their seeming randomness and unpredictability. Yet when these incidents occur, which has been with somewhat greater frequency and lethality as of late, public calls for policy responses are immediate. In this policy brief, we review efforts to evaluate the effect of gun control measures on mass public shootings, including a discussion of our recently published study on the relationship between state gun laws and the incidence and severity of these shootings. The findings of this work point to gun permits and bans on large-capacity magazines as having promise in reducing (a) mass public shooting rates and (b) mass public shooting victimization, respectively. Interestingly, however, most gun laws that we examined, including assault weapon bans, do not appear to be causally related to the rate of mass public shootings.

Unfinished Business: Gun Violence on the Policy Agenda

July 21, 2020

To better understand recent state policymaking in New York, researchers analyzed the 161 firearm-related bills introduced by the governor, Senate, and Assembly in New York between 2018 and 2019 to identify trends in legislative interest and activity.

Deconstructing Mass Shootings: Exploring Opportunities for Intervention

October 24, 2019

This policy report refocuses our attention from why to how mass public shootings happen. Mass shootings are deconstructed into a series of stages and decisions and various opportunities for intervention are explored. The motivations, preparatory behaviors, execution, and conclusion of 318 mass public shootings in the United States between 1966 and 2017 are analyzed. Finally, potential policy solutions to exploit these opportunities for intervention are introduced.

What Are the Most Effective Policies in Reducing Gun Homicides?

March 29, 2019

This research compares the impact of multiple gun laws at the same time and indicates which laws appear to be most strongly associated with lower rates of firearm homicide. Ultimately, the goal is to identify the types of laws that appear to have the greatest impact. This policy brief will help state policymakers navigate the scientific evidence regarding the impact of state firearm laws on gun-related homicide. 

Assault Weapons, Mass Shootings, and Options for Lawmakers

March 22, 2019

The focus of this brief is assault-style rifles, the new gun control measures passed in the U.S. at the end of 2018, the little to no action taken by the federal government, and actions taken by individual states to ban and regulate the sale and possession of assault-style weapons.

Can Mass Shootings be Stopped? To Address the Problem, We Must Better Understand the Phenomenon

May 22, 2018

The mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, happened nearly two decades ago, yet it remains etched in the national consciousness. Columbine spurred a national debate — from personal safety to the security of schools, workplaces, and other locations and to broader considerations of guns and mental illness. To this day, communities still are grappling to find solutions to the complex and multifaceted nature of mass shootings.