Every day in the United States, approximately 30 persons die of homicides and 53 persons die of suicides committed by someone using a gun (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2013a).Guns also provide individuals with the capacity to carry out multiple-fatality shootings that inflict great trauma and grief on our society, and the public rightly insists on action to make our communities safer. At the federal level, President Barack Obama announced a new “Now Is the Time” plan (White House, 2013) to address firearm violence to better protect children and communities and issued 23 related executive orders to federal agencies.
Toward this end, in February 2013 the American Psychological Association commissioned this report by a panel of experts to convey research-based conclusions and recommendations (and to identify gaps in such knowledge) on how to reduce the incidence of gun violence — whether by homicide, suicide, or mass shootings — nationwide.
Following are chapter-by-chapter highlights and short summaries of conclusions and recommendations of the report’s authors.
Threat assessment teams gather and analyze information to assess if a person poses a threat of violence or self-harm, and if so, take steps to intervene.
Prevention of violence occurs along a continuum that begins in early childhood with programs to help parents raise emotionally healthy children and ends with efforts to identify and intervene with troubled individuals who are threatening violence.
Gun violence is an urgent, complex, and multifaceted problem.
It requires evidence-based, multifaceted solutions. Psychology can make important contributions to policies that prevent gun violence.
Although it is important to recognize that most people suffering from a mental illness are not dangerous, for those persons at risk for violence due to mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or feelings of desperation, mental health treatment can often prevent gun violence.
Policies and programs that identify and provide treatment for all persons suffering from a mental illness should be a national priority.
For this reason, there is no single profile that can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act.
Instead, gun violence is associated with a confluence of individual, family, school, peer, community, and sociocultural risk factors that interact over time during childhood and adolescence.
revention efforts guided by research on developmental risk can reduce the likelihood that firearms will be introduced into community and family conflicts or criminal activity.