Institution for Social and Policy Studies

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What Works? Panel Offers Research on Gun Violence and Policy

The ISPS Special Panel Event “Preventing Gun Violence: What Research and Experience Can Tell Us About What Works” attracted a large crowd on Thursday evening. New Haven Chief of Police Dean Esserman was unable to make the panel due to travel complications, but Assistant Chief Archie Generoso was kind enough to come in his stead; his contributions to the discussion were eye opening.

Some major takeaways:

• As a survivor of the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, Stephen Barton discussed the random nature of some violence and how the tragedy was the impetus for his work for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. This group aims to 1) require a criminal background check for every gun sold in America, 2) ban assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, and 3) make gun trafficking a federal crime, with real penalties for “straw purchases.”

• As a complement to Mr. Barton’s point about the random nature of mass shootings, Yale Sociology Professor Andrew Papachristos pointed to his research highlighting the non-random nature of violence that characterizes the overwhelming majority of urban violence. Specifically, urban crime is largely concentrated in very particular places, and among a very small percentage of the population.

• Yale Law School Professor Tracey Meares discussed how attitudes towards gun policy, gun violence, and the law are influenced by cultural perceptions of legitimacy , as well as work recently done at Yale on how risk-perceptions of gun violence are key to understanding motivations on both sides of the gun-control debate.

• Assistant Chief Generoso emphasized the need to address gun injury (which includes accidental deaths and suicides) as a serious issue. He also shed some light on the current legislative deadlock that keeps agencies like the ATF from disseminating data to researchers, law enforcement, and other agencies, and also prevents federal agencies from creating a centralized gun registration database.

Blog contributor 
Policy Fellow
Area of study 
Criminal Justice