Believing that evidence-based research grounded in reliable science is a proven pathway for addressing America’s gun-violence crisis, this article reviews and assesses the completed and planned research grants of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) National Institute of Justice (NIJ) that are pertinent to countering gun violence in the United States.
For 25 years, studies supported by NIJ have shown that multifaceted, data-driven, strategic approaches to firearms-violence research have the potential to counter gun traffic, reduce shootings, and save lives. Among the research findings is that the motivation for gun acquisition and gun carrying by youth can be reduced by making their communities dependably safer, by improving socioeconomic resources, and by enhancing the physical features of urban environments. New research has identified illegal sources from which most guns are obtained, providing the foundation for disrupting illicit procurement. Research findings underlie a centerpiece of DOJ’s Project State Neighborhoods (PSN), which develops collaboration among local, state, and federal law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and community stakeholders in identifying and countering conditions and practices that fuel gun violence. This article concludes with a reflection on the lessons broadly drawn from both micro- and macro-level studies of gun violence. Micro-level research focuses on individual perpetrators and victims, and macro-level studies address the benefits of and need for high-level cross-collaborations that drive reforms in policy and practice that contribute to a systemic impact in countering the gun culture producing deaths and injuries.