What we know about gun violence

Each year, more than 30,000 Americans are killed in acts of violence using a gun. The problem is complex because it involves so many factors.

Last month, the American Psychological Association released an evidence-based report on how to reduce the incidence of gun violence nationwide. Written by a panel of ten experts from disciplines ranging from pediatric medicine to criminal justice, the report reviews the body of evidence on gun violence, including homicide, suicide and mass shootings. They reached some interesting conclusions including:


  • The most consistent and powerful predictor that someone will resort to gun violence is a history of violent behavior.
  • Other than previous violence, gun violence is related to a combination of individual, family, school, peer, community, and social risk factors that interact over time during childhood and adolescence.
  • Prevention programs can reduce the likelihood that firearms will be introduced into conflicts.
  • Males commit most gun violence. Psychologists need to develop programs that change male gender expectations of toughness, and violence.
  • Most people suffering from a mental illness are not dangerous. For the few who become violent as a result of a mental health problem, medical treatment helps to prevent violence.
  • Violence prevention programs need to span the life course. For example, early childhood programs can help parents raise emotionally healthy children, while programs for criminal offenders can help identify those likely to commit violent acts in the future.
  • Policies that prevent high-risk groups from obtaining guns — including domestic violence offenders, people convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes, and people with mental illness and a history of violence — have been shown to reduce violence.

Certainly, gun violence is an incredibly complex and politically charged issue. Here at EBL, we believe an unbiased evaluation of the evidence is the best way to understand this type of problem and develop solutions that prevent people from getting hurt.


  1. Jessica Roth says:

    So what the study says that we must take out the violent images we associate with males? Then we should stop the movie industry altogether.

  2. Michael Case says:

    Males commit the most crime? So we need to change our perception of the male figure? I do not know about that.

  3. Gun violence is not unique to the US but it is only the US that gun violence and gun ownership is linked.

  4. jdberger says:

    Is suicide an “act of violence”?

    If not, that initial number needs to be reduced to about 10,000.

    And if suicide is an “act of violence” people might want to rethink where they stand on DNR orders and physician assisted euthanasia.

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