schools, and campuses have developed myriad safety plans, there is very little information available about their effectiveness.
Community-based programs and targeted policing interventions in general have been found to be effective in reducing violence in some settings. Results of research on the effectiveness of prosecutorial interventions such as enhanced sentencing are weak. Controlling access to guns through background checks or restrictions on particular types of firearms remains controversial and requires additional research. Concerns about privacy regarding gun ownership, as well as individuals’ mental health records, encumber data collection and research on firearm violence. The best way to protect children from unintentional firearm-related injuries remains elusive, but technology interventions appear to offer significant opportunities (see the section “Impact of Gun Safety Technology”). One study found a decrease in gun violence rates in Philadelphia by “greening” vacant lots, a community blight reduction strategy that may have enhanced informal policing by residents and reduced opportunities for the storage or disposal of illegal firearms (Branas et al., 2011).
There is limited research on the effectiveness of interventions and strategies to prevent firearm violence, and where there has been research, stakeholders often disagree about its implications. Two of the most challenging and important issues are the inadequacy of or lack of access to data (Weiner et al., 2007) and the use of study designs that have limited ability to establish causality. Data used in research on firearm violence are largely taken from datasets developed for other purposes. Methodological challenges include privacy and confidentiality concerns, non-comparability of datasets, definitional differences, and unreliability in self-reporting. The following four research topics were identified as priority areas:
Evaluate Interventions Aimed at Reducing Illegal Access and Possession of Firearms
Illegal access to and use of firearms is an important factor in our nation’s risk from firearm violence. Fundamental questions about the effectiveness of interventions—both social and legal—remain unanswered.