Data and Statistics
Youth Violence: What We Know and What We Need to Know
In this review from the American Psychologist, Bushman and colleagues systematically investigate existing research on youth gun violence to determine what is known about the causes and characteristics of violent acts among youth. Using data gathered from a comprehensive analysis of rampage shootings between 1974 and 2011, the authors present a framework of characteristics for rampage shooters and incidences. They also outline characteristics of street shooters and incidences using a decades-long database of social science research on street shootings.
The authors note that youth violence is a complex issue with many causes that can differ in salience depending on the context and youth involved. While there are both risk factors and protective influences throughout a child’s life, the research is more extensive on the influence of risk factors. This article analyzes and outlines both risk factors and protective influences that involve family life, neurobiology, school-life, personality traits, exposure to violence, access to guns, substance abuse, social rejection, poverty, and mental illness; both protective influences and risk factors are affected by these parts of a child’s life.
A review of research on prevention initiatives and strategies include using social data-mining algorithms to monitor those children who are at risk of violent behavior; although, this method could raise privacy concerns. The use of student tip lines have been effective in preventing rampage shootings. Preventing street shootings takes a coordinated effort between community leaders, law enforcement, and role models to be most effective.
In conclusion, the authors discuss directions for future research and the effects on society from both kinds of shootings; rampage shootings are rare, but highly publicized events that shake society. Street shootings are much more common, but isolated to specific types of environments. The authors declare that preventing both types of youth violence through scientific investigation of causes and solutions is a national priority.
Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States
This article appearing in the American Academy of Pediatrics journal Pediatrics presents the most recent and comprehensive analysis of firearm related injuries and deaths of US children to date. Using data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), and the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS), Katherine Fowler and colleagues measured patterns of firearm-related death and injury (including suicide) by type, trends over time, circumstance and incident characteristics, and state-level data for the years 2002-2014.
Their results show firearm violence as the third-leading cause of death among children aged 0-17 years old, and the second-leading cause of injury-related death among the same age range (surpassed only by motor vehicle accidents). During the years 2002-2014, 19 children died from, or were treated for, gunshot wounds in an emergency room. Of all high-income countries in the world, the United States is responsible for 91% of childhood firearm deaths. Further, an average of 8 out of 100,000 children were injured every year by firearms in the US during the years 2002-2014. These results clearly illustrate the growing public health concern for youth gun violence in the United States.
Characteristics of School-Associated Youth Homicides — United States, 1994–2018
This report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) series finds that 70.4% of all school-associated youth homicides between 1994 and 2016 were committed with a firearm. The report includes analysis of 431 single and multiple-victim school-associated homicides among youth aged 5-18 years old based on coding and analysis of interviews, police reports, and media articles between 1994-2018.
According to the report, the majority of victims in single-victim cases were African American males between the ages of 15 and 18, while the majority of single-victim perpetrators were African American and Hispanic males between the ages of 15 and 18. Urban, public high schools had the highest frequency of single-victim, school-associated youth homicides. Gang retaliation and interpersonal disputes were the most frequent motivations. In comparison, victims of multiple-victim youth homicides were more equally represented between males and females. Noticeably, more multiple-victim homicides happened in the 5-14 age group than in single-victim incidents. The majority of victims in multiple-victim homicides were white youth; the perpetrators were primarily white males between the ages of 15 and 18. Retaliation was the most common motivation, and perpetrators were typically schoolmates or strangers.
The report concludes with the implication that racial/ethnic minority school youth are at a higher risk for being homicide victims than white youth,. and that school homicides happen with greater frequency in urban areas. This similarity in characteristics of school-associated and non-school-associated youth homicides indicate a need for broader, community-wide prevention initiatives that go beyond the school setting.
Firearm Homicides and Suicides in Major Metropolitan Areas – United States, 2012-2013 and 2015-2016
Firearm-related homicide and suicide rates are on the rise according to this report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) series. Analyzing recent data from the 50 most populated metropolitan areas of the US, the report finds that 3224 youth between the ages of 10 and 19 were killed in a firearm-related homicide and 2118 died in a firearm-related suicide in 2015-2016, with 87% of all youth homicides and 42% of all youth suicides involving a gun.
Contrary to a previous trend, firearm-related homicide and suicide rates are now increasing. The youth firearm-related homicide is up from a combined rate of 4.3 in the metropolitan areas measured in 2012-2013 to 4.7 in 2015-2016. The youth firearm-related suicide rate is up from 1.5 to 1.9. The authors say it is too soon to say if this is a short-term fluctuation or the beginning of a longer trend.
The report concludes by stressing the importance of ongoing tracking of gun violence rates as a way of supporting prevention efforts. For instance, safe gun storage is key to limiting children’s access to guns. Research has also shown that initiatives for housing and preventive policies in schools have reduced youth suicide rates. Further, rebuilding and improving the physical and social environments of urban areas has been shown to significantly reduce firearm-related homicides.
Household Gun Ownership and Youth Suicide Rates at the State Level, 2005−2015
In this article from Michael Siegel and colleagues in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the authors find empirical evidence that household gun ownership is a significant factor contributing to youth suicide rates. According to the data analyzed in the study, 55% of the variation in youth suicide rates from state to state is explained by the variation in household gun ownership. The authors find that in states with the highest youth suicide rates, 52.5% of households had firearms; while in states with the lowest youth suicide rates, just 20% of households had firearms.
Suicide is the most common type of firearm-related death in the US, and an average of 3 children commit suicide daily. Previous research has reported a positive relationship between household gun ownership and suicide rates at the state level, but until now, none have examined youth suicide rates in relation to household gun ownership by controlling for state differences.
Drawing on household gun ownership data from a national representative sample of over 300,000 adults, the authors compare household gun ownership at the state level with data on youth suicide rates and self-reported youth suicide attempts at the state level. The study controlled for the known risks and socioeconomic factors that have been shown to affect youth suicide rates. In other words, the study presents convincing evidence that household gun ownership is an important factor contributing to youth suicides.
High School Youths, Weapons, and Violence: A National Survey
This research brief from the National Institute of Justice presents results from a national survey conducted in 1996 by Joseph Sheley and James Wright investigating the firearm and crime related activities of 734 male sophomores and juniors from 53 high schools nationwide. This survey was unique for its time because it asked questions specific to weapon exposure among non-delinquent American high schoolers in an effort to get closer to the experience of the “average” American juvenile with respect to firearms.
Among the youth sampled, only 29% had possession of at least one gun, and only 6% carried a gun outside of the home. Of this 6%, the majority carried their gun in a car, and half were automatic or semi-automatic handguns. The recreational use of guns was linked with possession of all kinds of firearms, but not related with status enhancement, criminality, or high-risk environments. Half the youth who responded believed it would be easy to obtain a gun. 48% of these were gifted or loaned a gun by friends and/or family. Of the 35% who had bought a gun, 53% bought one from a family member or friend.
While criminality was only characteristic of a small percentage of the sample, it was positively correlated with youth who possessed and carried automatic or semi-automatic handguns. Possession of automatic or semi-automatic handguns and carrying guns outside the home was positively correlated with youth who experienced all of the nine dangerous environment items in the survey. Of the youth who had carried guns, 43% felt they needed them for protection. The authors note that the majority of the students surveyed did not live in ‘truly’ unsafe conditions, but the fear of these conditions was present. The data indicates a stronger link between dangerous firearm-related activity and firearm possession in dangerous environments, then it does for firearm possession alone.
How Youthful Offenders Perceive Gun Violence
In this briefing from 1999, the National Institute of Justice funded RAND to conduct interviews with 34 incarcerated youth from the Los Angeles Juvenile Hall to determine their perceptions surrounding their use of firearms. The main focus of this study was to measure youth perception about their future and their choices in reference to gun violence in order to identify deterrence strategies. Interviewers presented the youth with a hypothetical scenario including an opportunity to shoot someone to explore the context and rationale behind their decisions.
The report finds a positive correlation between gang membership and gun use among the youth interviewed. 76% of the youth had been involved in gangs; however, 52% expressed the desire to leave them. 75% had fired a gun, and 85% of the youth had previously been in Juvenile Hall. Six of these youth had been charged with gun possession, four had committed murder, and five had shot at people without getting caught. About half of these juveniles thought their future survival was left to chance. 40% of the youth believed that neither police nor their gang could protect them on the streets like a gun could, and most perceived the world outside their neighborhood to be even more dangerous.
Despite these figures, the youth interviewed still tended to believe they had a choice to carry and/or use a gun. They also had positive expectations about their future education and employment, which was recognized as a way to get out of their neighborhood and into a better life. The study identified two common perceptions relevant for deterring gun violence among LA youth 1)that shooting is a choice and 2) that shooting results in negative consequences such as arrest, imprisonment, and death. Based on this, the report concludes that points of influence for reducing gun violence include changing norms concerning gun violence and building on the youth’s strengths to offer education and other resources they need.
Cure Violence: Creating a World Without Violence
This primer outlines the methods and success of Cure Violence, an organization that has been working for over 20 years with local partners to reduce violence in the United States and around the world. Cure Violence was ranked 10th in NGO Advisor’s 2018 report on the top 500 NGOs in the world and 1st among NGOs devoted to preventing violence. Violence meets the standard definition for disease. Recent evidence shows violence spreads like a contagion. This discovery allows organizations like Cure Violence to use proven, contagion-stopping methods from the public health sector to stop the spread of violence. The Cure Violence model is evidence-based and has been replicated in many different locales and cultures.
In the US, communities in Baltimore saw a 44% decrease in shootings and a 56% decrease in killings after the Cure Violence program was implemented. In Chicago, communities where Cure Violence was present, saw a 41-73% reduction in shootings and killings with a full 100% decrease in retaliatory killings. In New York, 63% fewer shootings, more than a year without shootings or killings, and improved police relations resulted throughout multiple communities with Cure Violence. Globally, hot spots in Port of Spain, Trinidad saw a 67% decrease in attempted murders and a 33% decrease in armed persons reports following Cure Violence implementation. Communities in Cape Town, South Africa where Cure Violence was active had 53% fewer shootings and 31% fewer killings. The United Kingdom Youth Prison Program application of Cure Violence methods decreased group attacks by 95% and had a 51% reduction in overall violence.
Cure Violence staff work with local partners to develop culturally appropriate means to interrupt violence at its source. It offers services for youth and families that help alleviate some of the economic and emotional difficulties that can be prevalent in violence-prone areas. With citywide scaling, hospital response programs, and rapid reduction models, Cure Violence has become one of the best known methods for reducing the spread of violence in the United States and on five continents around the world.
Evaluation of Baltimore’s Safe Streets Program
In this report, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health evaluates the Baltimore Safe Streets program, a replication of the Chicago Ceasefire initiative from the late 90’s. With support from a US Department of Justice grant, the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD) implemented the program in some of its most violent neighborhoods between 2007- 2009(Elwood Park, Madison-Eastend, and Cherry Hill).
The evaluation covers implementation of the program, effects of the program on fatal and nonfatal shootings, community attitudes toward gun violence, as well as participant perception and effects of the program. Through detailed records of incidents mediated by outreach workers (Credible Messengers), the teams were able to mediate a total of 276 incidents. Of these incidents, 88% of the individuals involved had a violent history, and 75% were gang members, with weapons at the scene in almost 2/3 of the incidents. Outreach workers estimated that 84% of the incidents would have otherwise resulted in shootings, and believed that 69% of the incidents were fully resolved with a further 23% temporarily resolved.
The results of the evaluation show significant decreases in homicides and nonfatal shootings. However, two of the original four program sites showed the most decrease in gun violence. These two sites also mediated three times the amount of disputes per month than the other two. The authors suggest further research on implementation and organization strategy to improve such programs in the future.
Reducing Gun Violence: The Boston Gun Project’s Operation Ceasefire
This research report from the National Institute of Justice summarizes the implementation and effects of Operation Ceasefire in Boston. With an average of 44 youth killed per year in 1996 when the project began, its aim was to develop a problem-oriented policing solution to the crime and victimization of Boston youth.
A comprehensive collection of agencies including representatives from federal agencies and the US Attorney’s office known as “The Working Group”, studied the problem and found the majority of the violence happened in neighborhoods notorious for gang activity. This inter-agency task force had the reach to bypass state proceedings when necessary to effectively and swiftly crackdown on violent gang members at the federal level. One of the keys to Project Ceasefire’s effectiveness was the direct communication with the gangs about why the crackdown was happening. They were told directly, through social workers, probation and parole officers, and community groups, that the pressure would lift when the shootings and killings stopped. They held public forums with gang members to showcase the breadth of their authority, and to let them know why their neighborhood was targeted.
The results of Operation Ceasefire were significant. Following the first intervention, youth homicide in Boston started a sharp decline. The study measured violence statistics until 1999. The results showed a 63% decline in youth homicides per month. Shots-fired calls reduced by 32% per month. A 25% reduction in gun assaults per month occurred. It is difficult to know exactly what dynamics caused the sustained reduction in Boston youth gun violence however, it is clear that Operation Ceasefire played a significant role. The novel approach of Operation Ceasefire represented new possibilities for communities to address youth gun violence through problem-solving policing strategies and clear communication of initiatives.
Credible Messenger Mentoring For Justice-Involved Youth
Youth justice interventions are only as good as they are relevant to the youth they are trying to reach. Credible messenger mentoring is a novel approach to youth justice intervention that is proving to be invaluable for reaching youth who are trapped in a cycle of neighborhood crime and violence. In this issue of the Pinkerton Papers, a publication of the Pinkerton Foundation, Ruben Austria and Julie Peterson analyze this method of youth mentoring and find that the life history of these messengers resonates with youth in a way that can’t be replicated by social work professionals or law enforcement officers. Their analysis supports the nationwide implementation of credible messenger mentoring.
Credible messengers are people who have been involved with the justice system, taken responsibility for their past behavior, and transformed their own lives in a positive way. This makes them cultural insiders to the often-impoverished world these youth live in. As paid professionals, the people chosen to become credible messengers undergo training and development in facilitating positive group interventions. They are available to the youth anytime, day or night, for the duration of the program. This allows the mentors to coach these young people through difficult life circumstances as only someone who has experienced similar circumstances could. In the process, the mentors themselves undergo further self-transformation, and the communities they are all part of benefit exponentially. While there are challenges to nationwide implementation of credible messenger mentoring, the paper concludes that the evidence shows it to be a highly effective method for reducing gun violence, criminal behavior, and recidivism rates among today’s at-risk youth. Further research and implementation of credible messenger mentoring could signal a positive change in the opportunities available for all American youth.
Reducing Risk for Youth Violence by Promoting Healthy Development with Pyramid Mentoring: A Proposal for a Culturally Centered Group Mentoring
Reducing Risk for Youth Violence by Promoting Healthy Development with Pyramid Mentoring: A Proposal for a Culturally Centered Group Mentoring
In this article from the Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Gregory Washington and colleagues discuss the need for culturally relevant mentoring programs designed specifically for young, at-risk Black men. Research consistently supports that experiencing violence has traumatic effects on children. Poor and oppressed African American communities have some of the highest rates of gun violence in the United States. The victimization caused by exposure to such violence has been shown to correlate with increases in interpersonal violence and aggression. Further, the systemic oppression of and discrimination against African Americans by the majority American culture has led to a condition of cultural alienation. This condition makes it very difficult for young Black men to access the wealth of knowledge handed down through tradition from elders to youth; they miss out on culturally relevant methods for aiding healthy psychosocial development and identity formation.
Traditional American theories on healthy youth development have origins in Eurocentric ideals that do not often translate to the uniqueness of the African American experience in the United States. Thus, it is necessary to design, implement, and evaluate systems that incorporate culture, context, and multi-generational knowledge to the cause of developing healthy identities in young African American males. Taking inspiration from Pablo Freire’s work with the poor and oppressed in Brazil, Washington details how Pyramid Mentoring (PM) can be a culturally relevant program that incorporates an Afrocentric worldview to teach Black children healthy socialization skills in a familiar way.
Gun Violence Among Serious Offenders
In this problem-oriented guide for police, the Community-Oriented Policing Services (COPS), outlines evidence-based methods for preventing local youth gun violence. Evidence has shown that gun violence is most concentrated among serious youth offenders who already have a history with the justice system; it is usually gang or crime-related and clusters in specific neighborhoods at specific times. Since youth gun violence varies by location, this guide is intended to give police departments ideas on how to frame analyses, determine measures, recognize intervention, and select the appropriate responses for the characteristics of youth gun violence in that jurisdiction.
The guide then reviews two types of responses to youth gun violence, offender-oriented and place-oriented. Offender-oriented responses include inter-agency efforts to expedite state offenses to the federal level, while also offering community support. Place-oriented responses include increased patrolling of high-crime areas during high-crime times. The guide concludes with an overview of past interventions and responses that have proven ineffective; such as the practice of buying back guns, and the practice of suppressing gangs without providing services for the gang members to better their lives.
In the Line of Fire: Human Rights and The US Gun Violence Crisis
Using existing data and research, Amnesty International (Amnesty) assesses the entire scope of gun violence in the United States. Framing gun violence as a human rights crisis, the report is extensive in its coverage of issues related to US gun policy. Amnesty also gives recommendations to remedy the associated human rights violations the US is obligated to fix under several UN treaties.
Chapter 3, section 2, of the report addresses youth gun violence specifically. In this section, Amnesty discusses the factors contributing to youth gun violence. Data on demographics, school shootings, unintentional firearm violence, domestic violence, and the effects of trauma are included. The shortcomings of federal law and state enforcement are also analyzed; as well as the status of funding devoted to the study of youth gun violence and its prevention.
Violence is a Contagious Disease
In this excerpt from the Forum of Global Violence Prevention’s Contagion of Violence Workshop, Gary Slutkin (Cure Violence) discusses how violence moves through a population in the same way a contagious disease moves through a population. The goal of this article is to clarify how violence is acquired and biologically processed so that human societies can reduce or even stop the spread of it.
Violence is traditionally filtered through a moral lens, creating the understanding that violent people are inherently bad people. A similar phenomenon happened with leprosy, the plague, and other historical, infectious diseases until microorganisms were discovered, and germ theory was developed. This stereotype of violence = evil increases the intensity with which violence is exposed to certain populations, further contributing to its spread. Through a scientific framework, it is the authors hope that violence can become a disease of the past, much like leprosy.
Drawing on social psychology research and fMRI data, Slutkin presents convincing evidence that violence has biological and social beginnings and can be tracked and remedied much like any other contagion. Violence clusters in spatial locations, there can be a nonlinear spread, and it is transmitted through exposure by a susceptible person. Further, not all people who are exposed to violence develop a disease of violence. Violence as a disease is defined as acts of harm done by a person or to a person. Resistance to the disease can be found through combinations of an individual’s internal or external circumstances and biological traits.
Under this framework, policy can move forward with the help of scientific research to stop the spread of violence, with gun violence being a particularly salient contagion. Initiatives such as the Cure Violence project have reduced the spread of gun violence by following infectious disease protocols; which are, respond to the current exposure, avoid further exposure, and treat infected persons and communities. The results of Cure Violence have been replicated cross-culturally, giving evidence that gun violence has universal characteristics that can be utilized to predict and interrupt its transmission.
The Role of Epidemiology in Firearm Violence Prevention: A Policy Brief
In this policy brief, the International Network for Epidemiology in Policy (INEP) makes a case for the rigorous, interdisciplinary study of firearm violence in the US. Epidemiologists are uniquely situated in the field to offer interdisciplinary, cross-method analyses of the systemic factors contributing to a society entrenched in gun violence. Without considering the underlying societal circumstances that contribute to gun violence, policy makers are unable to make informed decisions for common-sense gun control.
The World Health Organization declared firearm death and violence a public health epidemic in 1996. Countries that study firearm data have consistently shown that firearms are a significant factor contributing to the lethality of injuries. Research has also shown these injuries and deaths to be largely preventable. The US has 10 times more firearm homicides than the next four wealthy countries combined (China, Japan, Germany, and the UK), with almost six billion dollars in annual revenue from firearm exports.
The authors advocate for evidence-based, community level research targeting the systemic factors at play in US and global firearm violence. The prevalence of violence from privately-owned firearms indicates a social disease that must be studied the same as any other disease. The brief concludes that it is time for society to switch from reactive to proactive efforts to curb firearm violence and death and offers policy recommendations from the INEP.
The Epidemiology of Firearm Violence in the Twenty-First Century United States.
The total cost of firearm violence to US society was 174 billion dollars in 2010. In this brief from the Annual Review of Public Health, the basic epidemiology of firearm violence in the US is presented. Using data from the CDC’s Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System, Garen Wintemute breaks down the statistics by trends, current status, and geography.
In 2012, the risk of firearm death was shown to be substantially higher for adolescents by homicide and the elderly by suicide. Firearm homicide risk is greatest for Black males, with Black females experiencing a higher rate of homicide than White and Hispanic males. Firearm suicide risk is greatest for White males, with White females experiencing a higher rate of suicide than both Black and Hispanic males. In 2004 there was little difference in overall firearm fatality between rural and urban areas; however, the rate of homicide was 90% higher in urban than rural areas, and the rate of suicide was 54% higher in rural than urban areas.
Wintemute discusses further how the epidemiology of firearm violence exposes misconceptions that hinder policy efforts to address this public health issue. For instance, mental illness by itself does not significantly contribute to interpersonal firearm violence; other factors, such as substance abuse or a history of violence are usually present along with a mental illness. Following the epidemiology of firearm violence can focus national efforts toward interventions with more effective results. Research funding is increasing, and evidence-based interventions are sorely needed; firearm-related deaths in the US from 2003-2012 outnumber the US combat fatalities from World War II, and the combined combat fatalities from all other wars in the nation’s history. Scientific inquiry, in-line with modern disease control methods, is necessary if the nation is going to curb this crisis.
Guns, Public Health and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for State Policy
This report from the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy (Consortium) comes out of a two-day conference convened in March of 2013 to discuss research and find areas of agreement for advancing evidence-based policy recommendations for gun violence prevention. As a result, the Consortium supports three different approaches to state-level intervention.
The first approach involves modifying disqualification policies for the mentally-ill on the basis of the evidence that the large majority of mentally-ill people do not commit violence against others any more frequently than anyone commits violence against others. The second approach expands gun prohibition laws to include individuals who exhibit behavior that scientific research has shown to accompany increased violence. The key to these policy changes is the temporary nature of the gun prohibition. Without due process, it is unconstitutional to permanently remove gun rights from individuals, unless they have been committed or convicted of a violent crime. Therefore, a clear, realistic restoration process must accompany any policy for the temporary removal of firearm access.The third approach introduces a way to remove guns from those who pose a high risk of hurting themselves or others. The goal of the Consortium is to inform gun policy through evidence-based criteria in a way that is both meaningful to those impacted by gun violence and respectful to those impacted by gun policy.
The Consortium makes these recommendations under the authority of expertly analyzed evidence-based research. The rights of citizens are the utmost priority; a solid and clear restoration policy is included with every temporary prohibition recommended. Public safety and evidence-based research are top priorities for the Consortium in making these recommendations.
Youth Gun Violence Prevention in a Digital Age
In this article appearing in Pediatrics Perspectives, Patton and colleagues use a case-summary of a 17-year old female gang member from Chicago to suggest social media’s usefulness in recognizing and preventing youth gun violence. Calling attention to the contagious nature of violence in face to face interactions, the authors discuss how social media interactions are now spreading violence just as quickly. Through ‘internet banging’ on a ‘digital street’ social media is contributing to threats, aggression, and retaliation among gang-involved youth. With the public nature of social media, anyone in the community can access the violent messages, as well as varying degrees of personal information about the people involved. The content of these posts can also contribute to the spread of trauma to other children and non-violent members of the community not directly involved.
The authors warn that using social media data in this way presents a significant risk to misdiagnosis and criminalization of vulnerable populations. As such, it should not be taken lightly. Further, best practices, situated in an ethical standard, need to be developed and implemented to protect high-risk populations from mistakes in analysis or the misuse of data. Cure Violence gave their credible messengers in New York a violence interruption toolkit to assess risky social media posts. Their efforts paid off, and providing similar tools to pediatric caregivers could further help prevent violent ideas from becoming violent behaviors.
Keep the Kids Inside? Juvenile Curfews and Urban Gun Violence
In this study from The Justice Tech Lab, researchers Jillian Carr and Jennifer Doleac explore juvenile curfew laws and their impact on urban gun violence. They find that curfew laws are ineffective for reducing gunfire incidents and may actually serve to increase gun violence. Utilizing advances in audio sensor technology, the authors measure how gunfire incidents are affected by changes in the seasonal curfew times in Washington DC, where curfew switches from 11pm to midnight between July and September. Contrary to the intended effect of the curfew laws, the study finds that when the curfew is one hour earlier, there is an increase of seven gunshots per week between 11:00-11:59pm in the four police districts included in the study, an increase of 150%. The authors suggest that curfews actually increase the amount of gunfire incidents because they decrease bystander deterrence; the more crowded the streets, the less chance a gunshot would go unnoticed.
These effects of curfew laws have been difficult to examine with accuracy due to biases in traditional reporting methods, such as 911 calls or police reports. Likewise, homicide reporting does not account for gun injury data.ShotSpotter is a technology that utilizes audio sensors placed around the city that detect the sound of a gunshot and triangulate the location. After being verified by human technicians, the location and time is sent to police. While this advance in technological reporting allowed accurate tracking of gunfire incidents, the study did not track the number of gunshot victims or other crimes committed during the curfew hours, nor does it assess other costs or benefits of curfew laws. More research is therefore necessary to determine appropriate policy regarding juvenile curfew laws and their efficacy.
Storage Practices of US Gun Owners in 2016
In this article from the American Journal of Public Health, researchers find that only 46% of gun owners surveyed practice safe gun storage with each of the guns in their household. The survey also finds that 34% of respondents have children under the age of 18 residing in the home where guns are present.
Safe gun storage involves limiting the availability of guns to those who are not authorized to use them by using gun safes, trigger locks, and/or storing ammunition away from the gun. Previous research has shown that households with guns have an increased risk of gun injuries and death, and safe storage practices are one of the most effective ways to reduce these risks. This study suggests that the credibility of those teaching gun storage practices affects whether and how gun owners store their guns.
The researchers also investigated the best means for persuading gun owners to safely store guns. They find that respondents consider physicians effective at teaching why guns should be stored safely but that they were the least influential in teaching gun owners how to safely store their guns. The most influential people to teach about gun storage practices were those with experience handling and using guns, such as law enforcement, official NRA communications, and/or family members. 43% of respondents expressed concerns about home defense, suggesting this is a major reason for reluctance to adopt safe gun storage practices with every gun in the home.