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Taking Action to End Gun Violence: Our Top Tools, Resources, Stories, and Data


Gun violence in the U.S. is on the rise. In the wake of two devastating mass shootings just 10 days apart—the Buffalo grocery store shooting (May 14, 2022) and the Uvalde elementary school shooting (May 24, 2022)—our national attention has again turned to firearms. Far from isolated incidents, these mass shootings follow disturbing trends of dramatic increases in gun violence since the onset of COVID-19.


In 2020, the crude rate of firearm homicides rose 33% across the U.S. with only a 1.1% increase in firearm suicides. Youth and Black Americans have been most disproportionately impacted: gun violence surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death among youth and children, and Black Americans account for nearly half the nation’s homicide victims despite making up only 14% of the U.S. population.


While many have named other issues as public health crises (APHA recently called out racism as a public health crisis), we have yet to see the same level of urgency for gun violence research and prevention from the public health world. While the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings prompted leaders from Kaiser Permanente, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and healthcare systems across Minnesota to call for action addressing gun violence as a public health crisis, thus far, few others have joined them. As changemakers and stewards of our communities, it is time for us to consider what addressing gun violence as a public health crisis looks like in practice, and to push for preventing gun violence by addressing root causes.


This collection focuses specifically on taking action. It offers context for addressing gun violence as a systemic public health crisis, and houses some of Community Commons’ best tools, toolkits, resources, datasets, maps, policy briefs, and stories related to ending, preventing, and healing from gun violence.

Addressing the Root Causes of Gun Violence


Following major events like the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, gun violence solutions are often discussed through the lens of high profile mass violence. Gun violence and its increasing impacts, however, aren’t limited to mass shootings and homicides. Gun violence exists along a broad and complex continuum, including: 



Commonly-suggested solutions following mass shootings—like increasing school securityarming teachers, and police crackdowns on illegal activities—are unable to reduce gun violence long-term because they fail to address the majority of gun violence and its root causes.


Gun violence is linked to inequity, inequality, and poverty. Root causes include disparities in income, housing, public services, schooling, and access to care. Isolation, hopelessness, lack of opportunity, past experiences with violence (as either a victim or a perpetrator), and indoctrination into hate groups are also significant factors in committing gun violence.


It’s important to understand the most common underlying factors that lead to violence: untreated anger, family violence, past history of violent acts, growing up where violence is used, and being young and male. To be clear, anger is not a mental illness. Hatred of others is not a mental illness. –Lauren Simonds, Executive Director, NAMI Washington


Because all types of violence are interconnected, addressing gun violence requires addressing all violence, including non-physical violence and hate


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The Root Causes of Gun Violence
Resource - Journal Article
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Addressing Gun Violence As A Public Health Crisis


The public health field is tasked with protecting and improving the health of all people and their communities. This responsibility is ever changing as the threats against communities change, and the strategies to advance well-being shift in response. As a leading cause of death for our future generations, gun violence has indisputably become a priority for public health in the United States. 


Addressing gun violence as a public health crisis involves: 

  1. Understanding and acknowledging the significant public health impacts of gun violence, including long-term, systemic impacts, and

  2. Urgently deploying a public health response to gun violence, including improving research and data collection and tracking, increasing funding, and acting on data-driven prevention strategies, interventions, and policies.


Each year, over 45,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence, and over 120,000 are injured. The impacts of gun violence, however, go much deeper. Exposure to gun violence (being threatened or injured with a firearm, or witnessing gun violence) also has significant lasting impacts on the health and wellbeing of people and communities. It alters brain chemistry—especially in developing brains—and can lead to chronic fear and feelings of insecurity, trauma and traumatic stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), antisocial feelings and behavior, alcohol and substance use, and other lifelong health and mental health issues associated with traumatic stressors. People exposed to gun violence are also more likely to engage in violence, perpetuating the cycles of harm, trauma, and inequity.


While there are evidence-based interventions to reduce gun violence at the community level, and mental health treatments to support individuals exposed to gun violence, those most impacted often lack access to these vital services. Funding—for both improved data collection and monitoring, and for implementing solutions—is one significant barrier. Between the 1990s and 2019, no federal funding was allocated to gun violence, creating significant gaps in community-level data and severely limiting changemakers’ abilities to make meaningful progress on reducing and preventing gun violence. The public health field is uniquely suited to address this gap and bring data-driven solutions, interventions, and policies back to the forefront of public gun violence discourse.


Public health and related professionals can start by incorporating gun violence into existing frameworks and research (such as calling out gun violence as an Adverse Childhood Experience), and pushing for increased funding, improved research and data monitoring, and better prevention strategies and policies. Labeling gun violence as a public health crisis is an important first step in creating the urgency and leverage needed to end gun violence.


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Actions to Get Started


In practice, ending gun violence involves addressing both gun control and resolving systemic issues contributing to all types of violence, including abuse, isolation, untreated anger, inequity, and socioeconomic disparities. With this goal in mind, anti-violence movement-building must always collaborate with and advance justice movements for all marginalized people and our shared environment and communities.


Because gun violence in the United States is deeply systemic, action can take many forms. Key actions to start with include:



To provide direct support to those impacted by recent mass gun violence, consider:



Please reach out with any suggested actions, resources, stories, or tools you think should be included here. We are committed to supporting the movement to end gun violence in the United States, and would love to hear from you.



Gun Violence Prevention Policies, Strategies, and Interventions

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Solutions to Gun Violence
Resource - Data Bank/repository
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Save Our Streets (S.O.S.)
Resource - Data Bank/repository
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How We Fix This: Covering Solutions to Gun Violence
Resource - Data Bank/repository
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Violence Intervention Programs
Resource - Report
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Firearms and suicide prevention
Resource - Website/webpage


Gun Violence Tools, Data, and Maps

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Gun Violence Archive
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Firearm Mortality by State
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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US Mass Shootings, 1982–2022
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Mass Shootings in America
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Gallup Polls: Guns
Resource - Data Bank/repository
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Mass Shooter Database
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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The Firearms Data Gap
Resource - Journal Article
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Gun Law Rankings
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Gun Violence Stories and Voices

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Don't Name Them
Resource - Website/webpage
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Armed Extremism
Resource - Website/webpage
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Gun Shops Work With Doctors To Prevent Suicide By Firearm
Story
Brought to you by NPR
Published on 11/21/2018
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Gun Violence Research Articles and Reports

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How to Buy a Gun in 16 Countries
Resource - Journal Article
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Domestic Violence and Firearms
Resource - Report
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Extreme Risk Laws
Resource - Journal Article


Police Violence-Specific Resources

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Campaign Zero
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by WeTheProtesters
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Trend Bending Policies for Advancing Racial Justice: Ending Police Violence
Story - Written
Brought to you by Community Commons
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Police shootings database 2015-2022
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
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Mapping Police Violence
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Brought to you by Mapping Police Violence

 Related Topics


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Youth Mental Health

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Basic Needs for Health and Safety

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Transgender and Nonbinary People

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Violence Prevention

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Mental Health

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LGBTQ+ People

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Black and African Americans