• Are school personnel (e.g., nurses, resource officers, teachers) effective at detecting students at risk of causing firearm violence?
Make High-Risk Environments Less Conducive to Firearm Violence
Improvements to the environment in “hotspot” areas, including remediation of vacant lots and abandoned buildings, has shown some promise (Branas et al., 2011) in reducing neighborhood firearm violence, but the reasons are not known. Conversely, high-risk neighborhoods with ready access to alcohol for off-premises consumption may face increased risk of alcohol-related violence (Branas et al., 2009). Programs known as “community policing” have resulted in decreased violence beyond arrest and enforcement effects (NRC, 2005).
Do programs to alter physical environments in high-crime areas result in a decrease in firearm violence?
Examples of topics that could be examined:
• Is there a correlation between alcohol sales for off-premises consumption and firearm violence in high-risk neighborhoods? Do laws and enforcement regarding sales of alcohol affect gun violence?
• What are the effects on firearm violence of community engagement programs to improve the physical environment? Is there a reduction in firearm violence among youth living in neighborhoods where community policing is practiced?
• For community programs that are considered to have sufficient effectiveness in reducing gun violence, what are the factors that affect adoption, fidelity vs. adaptation, and sustainability or scale-up of programs so that they have a public health impact?
One technique that could be used to reduce the number of firearm-related injuries and deaths—intentional or unintentional—is to make guns safer. From a public health perspective, this would involve learning how to interrupt the connection between the agent (the gun or gun user), the host (victim), and the high-risk environment (Runyan, 1998). This is consistent with public health strategies to reduce the burden of product-related injuries, such as safety designs in cars and medicine (Hemenway and Miller, 2013). Research from the injury prevention field indicates that changing products to make them safer is frequently more effective at reducing injury and death than trying to change personal behavior (Teret and Culross, 2002, p. 120). For example, product-safety solutions to reduce childhood poisoning from medicines, such as changes in packaging, have resulted in fewer childhood deaths from medicinal poisoning. Similarly, making guns a safer consumer product would include design or technology improvements that reduce firearm-related deaths and injury.
The purpose of gun safety technologies is to prevent unintentional “shootings, usually by very young children; the shooting of police officers by assailants using the officers’ own weapons; [and] suicides, especially by teenagers” (NAE, 2003, p. 2). In addition, in some cases this prevention strategy offers the prospect of reducing firearm-related crime by rendering a gun unusable to an unauthorized person.
Safety features in guns are not new. For example, Smith and Wesson firearm manufacturers developed a grip safety for children in the 1880s (Teret et al., 1998). There are both active and passive technologies that may have an impact. Passive technologies—for example, technologies that recognize person-specific features such as voice, hand geometry, iris scans, and fingerprints—are those that confer a safety benefit without requiring any specific action by a user. Active technologies require a