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Policy-focused solutions to the firearm epidemic: What we know works

September 22, 2022 1:31:27
Kaltura Video

Four leading experts in firearm violence will offer their insights big picture policy implications of and potential solutions for firearm violence. September, 2022.



0:00:25.1 Rebecca Cunningham: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's panel. I'm Rebecca Cunningham, Vice President for Research here at the University of Michigan. As someone who's devoted the past 25 years of their career to studying gun violence, I am very excited to see everyone gather here today to discuss policy-focused solutions to the firearm epidemic. Before we begin, I wanna acknowledge our colleagues at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy for hosting today's panel, in partnership with the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention, and with support from the Center for Racial Justice.

0:00:57.4 RC: The University of Michigan is committed to identifying and implementing evidence-based solutions to ultimately reduce firearm-related harms. These evidence-based solutions will emanate from the space between our disciplines and our schools, from policy and public health to medicine and engineering. At the University of Michigan, we're conducting research that is mindful of the critical social and historical context to firearms in the United States. We also remain committed to inclusion, encouraging diverse viewpoints, disciplinary perspectives, and approaches. Through a data and evidence-based analysis of our current policies, U of M researchers will guide resources to support solutions and programs that decrease firearm-related harms. Multi-faceted approaches are needed to reduce firearm injuries and deaths, and policy-focused research and solutions will play a major role in our collective efforts.

0:01:50.2 RC: Thank you to the Ford School for hosting and to the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention for coalescing our university focus on this critical issue. Enjoy the panel and thank you again for joining us today.

0:02:03.8 Patrick Carter: Alright. Everybody hear me okay? So, thank you to Vice President Cunningham for that introduction, and I just wanna add my welcome to everyone today to this event. I'm Patrick Carter, I'm one of the co-directors of the Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention along with Dr. Marc Zimmerman, who's sitting here in the front row. The institute was launched in 2019, initially as a presidential initiative, and then as a full-funded institute in 2021. And we really focused broadly, as Dr. Cunningham was talking about, on multi-disciplinary solutions to the problem of firearm injury prevention and those solutions crossing all the disciplines of faculty on this campus, including Public Health and Medicine, Engineering, and Public Policy. And we really have a broad focus on how we can help collaborate and contribute to solving this problem globally.

0:02:56.9 PC: The institute focuses broadly across a range of different firearm injury-related topics, including suicide, community violence, unintentional injuries, intimate partner violence, school and mass shootings, peer violence, and police violence. And across all of those different content areas, we focus on addressing the health and social disparities that underlie and underpin this problem by race, gender, geographic location, and socioeconomic status. So the institute is very proud to be co-partnering on this event with the Ford school of Public Policy and the U of M Center for Racial Justice. And we're honored today to have our distinguished panel of faculty coming to talk to us and sharing their expertise.

0:03:39.2 PC: And I do wanna just highlight a couple of additional opportunities, especially for the students in the room. The I=institute has recently launched its new NIH-funded T-32 post-doctoral fellowship program, and so for those of you who are looking to go into this area or hone their focus in this area, please do look at that opportunity as you progress in your academic careers. We also have summer internship opportunities available for students to work on research projects and policy projects and I would highlight that, and Jessica Roche, who's here someplace in the back of the room, can talk to any of the students who have more interest in these topics and the different opportunities available through the institute. And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't plug that Dr. Daniel Webster, who is a panelist tonight, is also speaking tomorrow as a distinguished faculty lecturer at the School of Public Health at 1:00 PM and I would encourage anybody who is available to come attend that also. And with that, I will turn it over to Dr. Shaefer to introduce the panelists.

0:04:44.5 Dr. Shaefer: So my research focuses on poverty in the United States and economic mobility, and I've seen the huge impact of gun violence on vulnerable communities. Finding solutions that can help turn the tide is of the utmost importance, and that's why I was so eager to moderate today's panel. I wanna give a brief overview of the format, and then I'm gonna turn it right over to our speakers.

0:05:08.4 DS: Tonight, you'll hear, lightning talks from four leading scholars on firearm violence who will offer insights from their research into different elements of firearm injury prevention and what evidence-based policy solutions we have to move the needle. I have some questions for them after we hear short talks, and I'm sure you will, too. And so I'm going to invite you to use the provided note cards that are gonna be passed around the room and pass them to folks who will be collecting them throughout the day. Two of our domestic policy core students from the Ford School, Kylie Claxston and Zan Rabney, will help us gather and organize your questions and ask them on behalf of the audience during the Q and A. Those tuning in virtually are welcome to submit their questions on Twitter, using #policytalks.

0:06:01.7 DS: First tonight, we're gonna hear from Professor Rod Brunson. He's a professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland. He is a leading expert on police community relations, youth violence, and evidence-based criminal justice policy. Next, we'll hear from Professor April Zeoli, from here at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan. She is a leading expert on policy interventions on firearm use related to intimate partner violence.

0:06:34.2 DS: Then will be Professor Sonali Rajan, a professor of Health Education in the Department of Health and Behavior Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Rajan is a School of Violence Prevention researcher, studying gun violence, school safety, and adverse childhood experiences. Finally, Dr. Daniel Webster, a professor of American Health and Violence Prevention, and Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research Department of Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Daniel is a leading expert on the prevention of firearm violence. So with that, I'm gonna invite our first panelist in these short lightning talks, Professor Brunson to offer his remarks. Let's give all of our panelists a warm welcome.


0:07:32.6 Prof. Rod Brunson: So good evening, everyone. I'm extremely honored to be here and participate in the institute's research symposium. I'm looking forward to hearing from all of you, but also from my esteemed fellow presenters, as well as the broader Ford School of Public Policy and Center for Racial Justice communities. And thank you especially to the organizers, they had everything running perfectly and made sure everything was taken care of as relates to flights, ground transportation, et cetera. So thank you very much for that.

0:08:04.2 PB: So I've been asked to focus my comments on policies to reduce officer-involved shootings and community violence, therefore, my lightning remarks will be organized as follows: The implications of the convergence of race and place for police and community violence, and also a discussion concerning how over and under policing contribute to persistent racial disparities in criminal justice system outcomes.

0:08:34.7 PB: As it relates to race and place, how officers distinguish between law-abiding and law-violating members of the community is imperfect and is further complicated by officers' shared views of where and with whom they believe the dangers may lie. And this intersection is further complicated by the understandably distinct opinions that young black men bring to them. And their experiences and perceptions stem from frequent complaints of police harassment and mistreatment. For example, young black men view police wrongdoing as multi-faceted, not only intimately tied to their status as young men in disadvantaged communities, but ultimately and inescapably about race. And given the aggressive law enforcement strategies that are sometimes underway in their communities, both officers and black citizens bring to these encounters some pre-conceived notions about expectations of how others will react, and often how negatively others will react.

0:09:45.4 PB: And so, given that landscape and that terrain, we're perhaps fortunate that lethal clashes between police and citizens don't occur more often than they do. These issues are simplified by the socialization process of many black youth. That is, the black parents and elders often feel compelled to discuss with their youth how to avoid police violence and how to stay safe when they're faced with the police, and give them a particular etiquette for how to deal with unwanted police interactions. And the interesting thing about... Sad and interesting thing about these interactions is that we don't have comparable data that shows us that white parents counsel their kids about not necessarily how to avoid a speeding ticket or how to avoid getting citations, but around the how to stay safe when they have these interactions with the police.

0:10:40.2 PB: So, what we have is compelling evidence over many decades that blacks and whites live in very different social worlds, and so it's difficult for researchers to disentangle how race and place interact with different criminal justice system outcomes, particularly how they are played out in disadvantaged minority communities.

0:11:05.9 PB: In response to public outcry over the lack of accurate national data about deadly police shootings, in 2015 the Washington Post and Guardian newspapers both began gathering and sharing statistics on fatal shootings. There are also independently maintained websites that collect and make publicly available data on police killings. And also in 2015, the US Department of Justice announced that it would begin compiling national data on officer-involved shootings, but despite launching a pilot program in 2017, the promise of a nationwide standardized database remains unfulfilled.

0:11:49.8 PB: Also the Washington Post estimated that, since between 2007 and 2012, the FBI under-counted police fatal shootings by as much as 50%, because individual departments are not required to report, and sadly, many do not. We do know, of course, that there is a disproportionate use of lethal force against blacks, and to a lesser degree, Latin X individuals. However, with a remarkably stable yearly rate of just over 1000 victims per year, that is 1000 people per year in this country, are killed by the police. And that's a rate that's at least a dozen times that of police in, for example, England, Western Europe, and Scandinavian countries.

0:12:39.6 PB: We also know that the difference from other advanced countries in police shootings undoubtedly has to do at least in part with the abundance of guns that are available to private citizens in the United States. More than one per person, and again, in contrast to other nations. And in fact, state rates of police killings of civilians in the US are correlated with state rates of gun ownership.

0:13:03.2 PB: Often lost in conversations about police killings is the fact that contrary to popular belief, most people who are killed by the police at the time of the incident are armed. In the Washington Post data, 60% of both black and white victims were reported to have a gun at the time of the incident, and nearly 90% of victims had some sort of weapon, for example, a knife, a vehicle, or a toy weapon. So here again, though, there is a racial discrepancy that is evident of the 1407 blacks that were killed in this period, 9% were armed, in contrast with 5.8% of the 2607 whites that were killed.

0:13:46.6 PB: So, at minimum, three factors must be considered as it relates to how we think about these issues. And that is, we need to look at the rate at which police shoot black versus white citizens. Another plausible or a possible explanation for the disproportionate in the rate at which police have encounters with black and white citizens, we need to examine that as well. And thirdly, how much that disproportion can be attributed to black and white citizens' differences in offending, as well as how much can be attributed to unconscious or conscious police biases.

0:14:25.2 PB: Of course, all this data, even though it's compiled by the Washington Post and others, is heavily dependent on administrative data that's gathered, maintained, and compiled by police departments themselves. So without reliable systematic data on the frequency of police/citizen encounters, both fatal and non-fatal as well as lethal force usage, scholars can only offer a limited scientific guidance regarding how much of the disparity in police killings of blacks can be attributed to racial bias. In turn, these data limitations on social science research greatly hinder our efforts as policy-makers who are trying to respond to fervent calls for police reform.

0:15:10.1 PB: These data limitations are also complicated by the proliferation of smartphones that allow citizens to record dubious police encounters via live stream or immediately post into social media. And although smartphones provide an increased opportunity for police accountability, they may also inadvertently distort police public opinion about how often and under what conditions officers are most likely to use force.

0:15:37.0 PB: So what are the pathways forward? How can we have reliable data, and from that, draw policies that will reduce police-involved killings of citizens? As we move forward, the current administration in Washington could reform the Department of Justice by focusing attention on bolstering citizens' confidence in the police in three ways.

0:16:03.3 PB: The first, more firmly embracing evidence-based policy; second, mandating effective police accountability and measures; and third, developing a nationwide database based on mandatory police reporting, documenting a wide range of police citizen encounters, including non-fatal police shootings that occur much more often than, thankfully, when people lose their lives, and sometimes we don't pay attention to those, that police, like others who are aiming to use lethal force, sometimes miss and sometimes their victims survived, but we don't pay a lot of attention to that.

0:16:44.4 PB: So, we as a nation no longer have the luxury of waiting for yet another Blue Ribbon Panel to issue policy recommendations that might be ignored by the next administration. Cameras have made vivid to the whole world a reality that many black residents of disadvantaged communities already know, and the bundle of police-related laws that have been enacted by states in the wake of George Floyd's killing almost two years ago reflects the growth of public recognition of the need for police reform, even though we may not agree on the detail to that reform. At the end of the day, there is a pressing need for high-quality research by social scientists that can and should play a role in providing those details and making communities objectively safer. Thank you.


[background conversation]

0:17:57.4 Prof. April Zeoli: Last month in Mississippi, Erica fled her abusive boyfriend. She has two small children who are not his, and she's scared for her safety, but mostly she's scared for their safety. Her boyfriend had been violent in the past, but this time, he pointed a gun at her sleeping children's heads. So she packed up and left. She found a place to stay where he couldn't find them, and she filed for a restraining order. On the petition, she detailed how he had been violent and how he had pointed a gun at her children, and she asked the court to take away his guns. The court granted her a restraining order, but they did not grant any restrictions on gun possession. That's because Mississippi doesn't have a law that requires or authorizes gun restrictions on restraining orders. People in Mississippi instead rely on the federal law to add those gun restrictions, but the federal law doesn't apply to dating partners. So it's of no help to Erica. Instead, her abuser gets to keep his guns, and buy more guns if he wishes.

0:19:12.2 PZ: But what would have happened if Erica lived in Michigan instead of in Mississippi? In Michigan, she can ask for the gun restriction on her restraining order, and she might get it, because Michigan has a restraining order firearm restriction law, and it extends to dating partners. But it's up to the judge whether she gets it; it's not required or mandatory. But let's say that the judge grants the gun restriction. Now her abuser can't buy any more guns because he won't pass the background check. But Erica is still fearful of gun violence because her abuser still has guns. The judge didn't order him to relinquish any of his guns, and law enforcement made no attempts to go and get them. So Erica's abuser still has guns, and she is left hoping that he doesn't find her or her children and shoot them like he threatened.

0:20:12.1 PZ: In the United States, just over 3% of domestic violence events involve the use of a gun. 3% doesn't sound like a lot, but because domestic violence is so common, that's 90, nine, zero, gun-involved domestic violence events every single day. And that is a lot. Abusers use guns to threaten, coerce, and intimidate their victims, and sometimes they shoot at them, and sometimes they kill them.

0:20:45.0 PZ: When a male abuser has access to a gun, the risk that he will kill his intimate partner increases by a factor of five. Additionally, and tragically, one of the most common circumstances for children who die by homicide is in domestic violence, and most of those homicides are committed with guns. Thankfully, in the United States, we do have laws to respond to this danger. I've already told you about one of them: Laws authorizing or requiring gun restrictions on domestic violence restraining orders. The federal law mandates gun restrictions on full domestic violence restraining orders, but only for people who were married to, lived with, or had children with, their victims.

0:21:41.4 PZ: Last summer or this summer, Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, while an important and potentially life-saving law, did not extend the restraining order gun restriction to dating partners. Given that over half of people who commit intimate partner homicide were dating their victim at some point, this is a dangerous oversight. But some states, like Michigan, do include these gun restrictions on restraining orders and extend them to dating partners.

0:22:12.7 PZ: My research, on which Daniel Webster collaborated, found that when states include dating partners, there's an associated 16% decrease in intimate partner homicides committed with a gun, and a 13% decrease in total intimate partner homicides. The decrease in total intimate partner homicides is important because it suggests that abusers don't just use other weapons, instead they're killing fewer people. In other words, lives are saved. Those states that don't include dating partners saw no significant reduction in intimate partner homicide.

0:22:56.0 PZ: Extending the restriction to dating partners is potentially life-saving. But recall Erica's story. Even when her boyfriend/ex-boyfriend had a gun restriction, it didn't change the fact that he had guns, because Michigan and other states doesn't have a policy that says that judges have to or can order that person who is newly prohibited to relinquish the guns that they now possess illegally. And it doesn't authorize law enforcement to go and get them. So mostly, we think abusers are keeping their guns by default because no one checks to make sure that they don't have them.

0:23:43.6 PZ: My research suggests that when states have a relinquishment law, it's associated with a 16% decrease in intimate partner homicide committed with guns and a 12% decrease in total intimate partner homicide. Those states that don't have relinquishment provisions saw no measurable reduction in intimate partner homicide. Without an enforcement mechanism in the law, abusers can just keep their guns. And the restriction that tells them that they can't have them anymore does not work as intended, allowing abusers who are prohibited from having guns to keep their now illegal guns is dangerous and could lead to tragic consequences.

0:24:35.5 PZ: I'm currently conducting a study in which I'm recruiting restraining order petitioners who experienced gun-involved domestic violence by their partners, and I'm following them for six months after they petition for the order. I'm doing the study in three states with quite different laws, and I intend to learn what factors influence whether they get that firearm restriction. If they get the firearm restriction, what factors influence whether there's gun relinquishment? Do they feel safer? And what violence do they further experience, if any? 

0:25:11.4 PZ: Answering these questions will help us learn what's happening on the ground with the people that we intend to protect. And it may point out other areas of the laws that we can improve, because ultimately, these laws and the implementation of these laws can be improved. People always get frustrated when they think of law changes and guns, but I'm working to make people safer, we are working to make people safer. And research will help us do that. My research suggests types of laws that will help prevent intimate partner homicide, and the research I'm currently conducting will help to refine those ideas, and will take those ideas to stakeholders and legislatures and show them what works. Too often in this country, the level of safety that you have from your abusive partner depends on the state in which you live. We are failing people who live in states with weaker gun laws or no gun restrictions. But with more policy analyses and more research on this topic, we can do better, and we need to do better for them. Thank you.


0:26:47.1 Prof. Sonali Rajan: I'm getting over a cold, so you get my post-cold voice. I wanna thank everyone for having us here today, as Dr. Brunson said, to the team who really helped us make sure we get here, just so thoughtful in every aspect of it. So thank you, it's a pleasure to be here today. Special hi to my seven-year-old who's watching at home right now. So says my husband. It's either that, or Paw Patrol. So we'll see.


0:27:15.1 PR: I study school gun violence prevention, and I'll be honest, I'm not a policy researcher. But policy is one of the core tenets of active gun violence prevention in schools that would actually be effective. But before I talk about that, I wanna talk for a moment about what schools are and what they have the potential to be.

0:27:36.8 PR: There was a very famous pair of researchers in the '90s, Tyack and Cuban, who wrote about schools as having the potential to be visionary spaces guided by what children believe in, what they do, their play, their learning. I would argue in the past several years, especially, that schools are not guided by children's well-being or their play or their learning, and instead, we have organized our school spaces largely to be centered around the prevention of gun violence or the anticipation thereof. A lot of our budgetary resources go towards that type of effort, instead of attending to the well-being of children and what it is that schools are supposed to be for kids, which is spaces that are safe, where kids know they are valued, where they are secure, and they can grow and learn in a healthy and informed way. And by the way, something that should be the case for all kids, not just kids in well-resourced schools.

0:28:39.0 PR: So the prevention of school gun violence, my work and the work of my colleagues argues largely that the prevention must entail efforts across a spectrum, that prevention is not just about what we do in the moment of a violent act, which is what we currently think of as school gun violence prevention, rather, it is everything leading up to the moment where a 16-year-old child might choose to bring a firearm to a school to harm themselves or someone else. So this includes what we do in our communities, the way we invest in housing and green space, in street lighting. It involves what we do in our school buildings in the context of over-criminalizing spaces and punitive disciplinary policies. It also involves access to firearms. As my colleagues have shared today and we all have heard, there are over 400 million firearms currently in circulation in the US, a figure that increased considerably with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. To contextualize that, that's more guns and there are people.

0:29:42.1 PR: And the existing research is very, very clear, that an increased presence of firearm leads to an increased risk of firearm violence. Now, strengthening gun laws, as we've been hearing, has long been politically divisive. It's often difficult to expediently advance, but it is so crucial to keeping our communities and our kids safe. And you wanna talk about learning loss, I'll tell you, it contributes to learning loss, okay, we hear a lot about that these days. Kids going to school and fundamentally not feeling safe, kids walking to and from school and witnessing gunfire or hearing gunshots. These are things that are disruptive to their development, of course, how could it not be? So we have a responsibility as a society to remove that burden from schools, to solve these problems, and instead, to actually prevent gun violence in the first place. So how do we do that? 

0:30:38.2 PR: So if we look at the existing evidence that has rigorously evaluated the effectiveness of a number of different policies, a school gun violence prevention framework should recognize the coordinated implementation of multiple policies that together would reduce access to firearms in a number of ways, and I'm gonna give some specifics here and how they connect to school gun violence.

0:31:00.7 PR: So, first, as I mentioned, firearm availability, just by its very nature, places kids at high-end risk both for being victims of firearm violence but also risk for engagement in other high-risk behaviors, because if kids don't fundamentally feel safe, then they're not going to have positive mental health indicators or take a test or engage in that social-emotional learning program that we've implemented. All of that is sort of a moot point if they go to school and they don't fundamentally feel safe. Recent work that some of my colleagues here and I have done, has shown that, and you heard Dr. Zeoli talk about the importance of state gun laws and how they vary considerably from state to state, some of our work showed that states with more permissive gun laws, so that's states where it's just easier to have access to a gun, and we looked at a number of policies in the way we define this, showed that those states had significantly higher active school shootings.

0:32:01.5 PR: These are the school shootings many of you hear about, Sandy Hook, Parkland, most recently, Uvalde, but also the many we don't hear about. There have been... Since the 1999 Columbine shooting in Littleton, Colorado, the Washington Post data estimate that something about 312,000 children had been exposed to gun violence in schools alone during that period. That's a remarkable number, if we really sit with that. And that number, if you go to that website, every time I go to the website with my students that number goes up, which is deeply concerning. So this is a growing public health crisis.

0:32:42.3 PR: What we also showed in our work is that these results illustrated that even after we adjust for other critical confounders, so rates of neighborhood violent crime and other indicators that you might say, "Well, hey, maybe that's why," even after you account for that, and this includes accounting for things like gun ownership in the community, the more permissive gun laws states were still the ones where you saw those increases in school shootings. So we know that policies have an impact; we know that it matters at not just in the context of community gun violence or domestic violence. It also matters in the context of school gun violence prevention.

0:33:16.3 PR: Now, some of these laws are relevant specifically to school buildings, for example, under what circumstances might a firearm even be allowed on school property, laws that might make it easier for a child to have access to a firearm, and then laws that impact the lethality of a school shooting. Together, such policies impact school shootings and therefore should be part of a meaningful gun violence prevention school discussion, not just in the context of other gun violence, but specifically to schools.

0:33:52.3 PR: So this includes policies such as bans on assault weapons, bans on large-capacity magazines, red flag laws, as we were hearing about also known as extreme risk laws, permit requirements to purchase a firearm, which essentially ensures that all states raise a minimum age to purchase a semi-automatic firearm to 21 years old. That's not saying we are taking firearms away; it's just making it a little bit harder for firearms to be attained by kids who are not yet developmentally there to own a firearm. They can't buy a beer; they probably shouldn't have a firearm. Child access laws being another one, and then background checks.

0:34:37.3 PR: All of these laws together, when we put them together, are effective. So if you flip our findings around, we talked about how permissive gun laws meant less safe schools. Let's flip it around: More restrictive gun laws, like I'm discussing here, actually contribute to safer schools, and that's part of what we want.

0:34:56.9 PR: Now, we also know that there are high rates of community gun ownership, and its relationship to intentional school shootings is also something we wanna think a lot about and how we prevent that. So, another component to our policy piece is that we need to do all we can to promote safe firearm storage. I mentioned at the beginning that there are 400 million firearms in circulation. So we have to learn as a nation to co-exist safely with the number of firearms there are, and that includes promoting safe firearm storage practices and working with families to ensure that they're storing their guns safely and securely, that is, locked and unloaded.

0:35:38.3 PR: All of this is important because some of our research and the work of others has confirmed that firearms that are used in school shootings are often taken from the perpetrator's home or from a close relative or a friend. And often, perpetrators are in the 18 to 21-year age range, which means that age limit, it matters. All of these things. There's no one solution, but taken together, we see a fabric of solutions that would be very effective. I'll just end on this note, which is to say that I think when we talk about policies like I said, it's a challenging discourse to have. What I hope the school violence discussion focuses on is why schools exist in the first place. I go back to that work of Tyack and Cuban: These are spaces that have the potential to be visionary, and all children, all children, deserve that. So our laws should reflect that. Thanks.


0:36:49.9 Prof. Daniel Webster: Hi, good afternoon. It's really a pleasure to be here at University of Michigan and be part of this panel today. You heard little pieces of different forms of gun violence in the first three presentations: Intimate partner violence, police violence, shootings in schools. I'm gonna try to, in a really short amount of time, lay out the basics of firearm policy and what we've learned from research to guide better policies so that we have less gun violence.

0:37:28.2 PW: I'm gonna start with a statement that in general will not be stunning, which is, the United States is very unusual. We're unusual with our firearm homicide rates. They're about 25 times higher than the average high-income nation. Think about that. We're also an outlier, incredibly unusual, in that we have no licensing system for obtaining a firearm, a lethal weapon. I think there are only maybe two or three other countries where that is true.

0:38:11.2 PW: Let me tell you how our firearm policy is structured at the federal level, and then we're gonna go to state in a moment, and what we've learned from state laws. It was only in 1994 that we had any requirement of a background check before one could buy as many guns as you'd like. Our basic approach to firearm policy federally and at the state level is basically everybody should be able to get a gun if they want one, unless you're in some prohibited categories. These categories, many are probably familiar to you, felony conviction, April's covered some of the domestic violence train that is very spotty, not totally covering that piece, and then convictions for domestic battery are also a prohibiter at the federal level.

0:39:19.6 PW: So generally, there's a screening process involved federally and across our states. But the interesting and important part to understand about that is two things. One is, in most of our states, we like freedom. We give you the choice, you can go into a licensed gun shop, fill out forms and have a background check; or you can go online, you can go to a gun show, you can go to your neighbor, a variety other places, buy whatever gun you want, no questions asked. Okay? That is how our federal laws are set up. The other important part of our federal law system, even when you acquire a gun from a licensed gun dealer, is that screening process begins not with a public safety official whose job is to keep us safe and make sure the gun stay out of the wrong hands. It is facilitated by the person selling you the gun. Okay? To me, that's a very different system than one set up by public safety agencies, and I'll get to the research on that in just a moment.

0:40:42.9 PW: The other thing to know is that our firearm policies, particularly at the federal level, are not just set up to keep us safe; they're set up to facilitate commerce. We generally made it really easy for people who are selling and profiting from selling guns to do that with very minimal restrictions, and the same for their customers. So, not surprisingly, some states have said, "Whoa, these federal laws are really spotty." By the way, I did a review article with Garen Wintemute. I believe it was 2015, about what do we know about gun laws and their effects. And we did something a little bit unusual. Not only did we say, "Here's what we know about these gun laws," we actually said, "This is what we know about lack of gun laws. This is how we know guns get into the hands of people who use them to do very horrible things." And that's why I wanted to paint this picture for you before we then understand what we know about gun policy at the state level.

0:41:53.3 PW: So, we have about, I think it's 21, states in the District of Columbia that addressed that so-called gap in the background check system called comprehensive background checks, means that private transfers, you're also supposed to get a background check with record-keeping. That's good. And that's generally the most common thing we hear in gun policy discussions: "We need background checks." Again, with those states, most of those facilitate that through a licensed gun seller, not a public safety agency.

0:42:37.0 PW: Another subset, have a licensing system. And actually, before I get to some of the punch lines about licensing, and that's gonna be my biggest message, I wanted to just make a couple of other points. One is the importance of upstream orientation to this. Where are the guns coming from and how are laws allowing that? And what stops that? We know from state studies and studies that I've done on state policies as well as local initiatives to do undercover stings and take legal actions against gun sellers who are channeling guns into the underground market, but that greatly reduces this upstream, this flow, of guns in the underground market where they will most commonly misused.

0:43:37.8 PW: I mentioned the basic federal prohibiters. There's important differences across states in what is a prohibiting condition. One important one is a conviction for a violent misdemeanor. That's a crime where the penalties is not more than a year. It's important to know a lot of those misdemeanor convictions start with a felony charge with some serious things. And actually one of the important things in Professor Zeoli's study that she referred to, I love saying, "Professor Zeoli," that's a new thing, is that restrictions on people with violent misdemeanor convictions, actually, the biggest effect in reducing intimate partner homicide, I think it was about 23%.

0:44:30.5 PW: We know from other studies, also focus on violent misdemeanor is people with a history of violence, those firearms restrictions consistently are associated with less gun violence. So, what our standards are matter, and then the mechanism by which we try to enforce that or keep guns from prohibited people matters. I'm gonna end with the licensing component here. So when states have a licensing system where you go to a public safety agency to apply, there's a rigorous background checks, fingerprints, safety training sometimes. We have found in our research at Johns Hopkins that these lead to sizable reductions in firearm homicides, firearms suicides, fatal mass shootings, even shootings involving law enforcement, both as victims being shot in the line of duty.

0:45:29.2 PW: We have some early data suggesting that there are also protective against police-involved shootings. That should not be a surprise, because police are encountering fewer people, with dangerous backgrounds with firearms. And just for some perspective, if you contrast the rate of fatal mass shootings in states with strong licensing laws, they're about one quarter of what they are in other states. So it's very dramatic. Oh, I should say the last piece of this, again, because we're trying to connect a lot of dots here. There's very strong evidence that is the licensing process that prevents the diversions of guns for criminal misuse. We've done this in three different studies. Very strong effects. Look at it longitudinal, cross-sectionally, a lot of different ways, big effects. So, that's sort of the take-home message that I want to leave you with, is that we've got big problems. There are solutions to this that translate into pretty sizable differences in lives, number of lives saved, with the right kind of policies.


0:46:57.3 DS: Let me first congratulate our panelists for all being precisely on time. I don't think I've ever moderated a panel where every single member was so timely. So I have a few wonky policy follow-up questions for each of our panelists. And then I've got a set of questions from the audience, and I'm gonna invite you to raise your hand and put in one of those note cards so that our students can ask those questions, starting at about 5:45. Rod, you mentioned something I actually had never heard of, which was mandatory accountability measures for police violence, and I was wondering if you could just go into a little bit more detail on what that would be. And one thing I was interested in, it sounded as though the federal government could just do that, that it didn't require legislation. So if you could clarify on that. Thank you.

0:48:01.8 PB: I think one of the major problems about certainly police violence is a huge issue that we should pay attention to. But part of the difficulty is that we don't know the magnitude, the scope, of the problem. And so if police agencies aren't required to report when they discharge their weapons and strike someone, many do not. And so, in order for us to develop policies around reducing the incidents of police-involved firearm discharges, we need to know how often it happens, under what conditions, as I said before, are people armed, are people violating the law, what are the circumstances and the context? And unless we mandate the police agencies report those types of incidents, we won't know the full scale and scope of the problem, and we can't design effective policies to reduce it.

0:48:55.8 DS: So, this is the mandatory accountability measures, is that correct? 

0:49:00.0 PB: That could be one.

0:49:00.5 DS: Yeah. Good. And that's something that the federal government could do by administrative action and not require legislation.

0:49:07.8 PB: I think it's something that can be done by, I'm certainly not an expert in this area, but something could be done, just a requirement to attain certain types of federal funding. If you're going to... If police departments are going to have access to these funds, they must do this, and in the same ways that we... And they don't always do it accurately or in a timely manner, but police organizations are reporting other types of crime data, that we can at least have some things in place where you are required to do it. It's not left up to your discretion, whether or not you do it or not.

0:49:42.5 DS: Thank you. April, I like how you layered on sort of on top of the circumstances in regards to restraining orders and gun violence restrictions. I wonder if you could sort of sum that up by saying, what is the, based on the evidence that you have, what is the ideal law in terms of firearm restrictions for restraining order related to intimate partner violence? 

0:50:07.3 PZ: Yeah, absolutely. Right now, the research suggests that restraining orders, that there should be an option, a mandatory option... I guess not an option if mandatory.


0:50:21.1 PZ: But a requirement that restraining orders carry firearm restrictions. And that those restrictions extend beyond spouse, lived with, have a child, type relationships. You will need to include dating partners. We're dating a lot longer now than we ever did before. Marriage is late 20s for women, early 30s for men, we spend a lot more time dating, and dating partners are dangerous. So definitely dating partners. We also, I didn't mention this in the talk, but we need those restrictions to be on those ex-parte restraining orders, the orders that are given really quickly after you file for them before there's a hearing, because restraining orders are often petitioned for and granted in moments of crisis. When people are in a lot of danger and saying, "Okay, you can have this emergency restraining order, we know you're in a lot of danger. In three weeks, we'll have a hearing and see if he has to give up his guns or she has to give up her guns," that doesn't make sense. The danger exists now. So, have those available for ex-parte orders.

0:51:41.6 PZ: And then absolutely have a relinquishment provision. We cannot leave this up to the abuser's honor code to get rid of the guns that they now possess illegally. We need to make sure that it happens. And that's hard, because in most places in the United States, there's no list of people who have guns. In California, they have a sale registry that they can look at, but we usually don't have those. So, we have to talk to the victims, find out if there was a gun involved, look at past police records to see if any incidents that were reported involved the gun. If someone has a hunting license, they probably have a gun. So there are ways to find out if someone has a gun, and then going and safely removing them from that person is paramount.

0:52:43.6 DS: Okay, so including dating partners, making it so that folks can't buy a new gun while one of these restrictions in place, and they must relinquish the guns that they have. Is that right? 

0:52:57.5 PZ: Yeah.

0:53:00.9 DS: Great. And with these, is it possible that this could be a federal law or would this have to happen... These have to happen at the state level? 

0:53:06.0 PZ: So we actually have a federal law that is limited in scope. It would... The federal government can add all of those things to its legislation, and that would improve the situation for people across the country.

0:53:25.8 DS: Thank you. Sonali, I appreciated the sort of insight that school shootings would be impacted by common Sense gun safety laws, like, say, storage. We also had a question from the audience, so if you had anything... It sounded like perhaps safe storage was maybe the top of the priority, but perhaps there's other ones.

0:53:55.0 PR: Okay, so I'm gonna do something my students hate when I do which is to say, I have multiple answers to your question. [chuckle] And I...

0:54:04.0 DS: You're a professor, so we allow that.

0:54:05.5 PR: I can't help it. It's just how it is. So, I really hesitate in general with this issue, whether it's in schools or in any other setting, to say, "This is the single policy that will do it." My worry is then maybe we try to do it and say, "We did it," and it didn't work. Like any other... Really like any other public health issue, it will take a multi-layered strategy with multiple laws and policies that are driven by evidence to help us really get at what is a growing public health problem.

0:54:40.9 PR: So, the reason I like talking about safe storage as one component of this is because we know many school shooting perpetrators do obtain the firearm from their home or from a close relative's home. So that seems like low-hanging fruit. If we had a way in which we were encouraging families who own firearms to store their gun safely and securely, that in and of itself would be a huge step forward. And there's been some really interesting work, not conducted by me, but by others who have shown that schools have played... When they engage with families, they can actually encourage families very successfully to essentially normalize safe storage. So the idea is not to malign families who own firearms in any way, but rather to say, "We have a responsibility as a family, as a community, as a school, to ensure that they are stored safely." So I see that as one sort of easy thing we can do in concert with other [chuckle] policies and practices.

0:55:49.2 DS: Let me follow up with one of the audience questions about whether or not some sort of law or policy around school officials identifying... You might think of that, I guess, as an extreme risk protection-type of order for students. Is there a mechanism there that can be successful in identifying students that might be at risk of perpetrating something like this? 

0:56:16.3 PR: I'm gonna... Well, I'll say one thing, which is that there is a fairly, very well, steady process that many schools do implement called behavioral threat assessment, and it's been shown to be very effective at reducing potential threats from becoming actual acts of violence. And essentially, what I really like about behavioral threat assessment as a process is it does identify a person in the school community who might be at heightened risk for perpetrating violence. It also follows up with that person, that student usually, to find out what's going on. So it's not just about, it's not... It's actually fairly non-punitive. The idea is to say, "This is a student who has been placed at risk in some way, is displaying some warning signs," and there are various that we do look for in the context of a school community, "and what are we going to do, then, to help ensure that they are okay?"

0:57:13.9 PR: And I think that latter component is a large part of why that type of process works very well in a school, because usually, kids, when they're displaying these "warning signs" or talking about perpetrating acts of violence, there's other stuff going on [chuckle] which is why prevention, again, has to be far more than what are we doing in the moment of a violent act, rather, in the months and years leading up to that.

0:57:42.9 DS: Thank you. Daniel, I was quite taken with your licensing law argument at the end, and I wonder if you could spend some time telling us, like I asked April, what the ideal licensing law is. And then we did have a question from the audience about whether or not a licensing law is constitutional given the Second Amendment. They mentioned you've made the case for driver's licenses, but driving is not protected by the Constitution. So is this something that wouldn't just be struck down? 

0:58:18.3 PW: Thank you, that's a great question. So a two-part question. First part, what's the best licensing system look like? I actually presented to a group of legislators in Illinois precisely on this question, so I think I can get this. First and foremost, there has to be in-person application through a public safety agency. I dwelled on that in my talk, because I think everything we know about how guns get diverted, that's critical. Secondly, there should be a fingerprinting process to verify identification. There's been some very tragic examples in which people writing their name and basic information on an application to purchase a firearm and showing some ID, whether it's legit or not, misses criminal records showing that they are actually prohibited people, and that has led to tragic consequences. So we think there should be a fingerprinting process as well.

0:59:23.6 PW: I think there should be some basic mandatory safety training requirements. And I'll be honest, that I don't know precisely what every single element of that training should look like, but people should, first and foremost, understand the basic laws, they should understand safe storage, they should understand suicide risk, as well as other things. So, there's a variety of things that I think could be beneficial on safety training. So those are the main components. And the last one I'll just mention is, again, connecting to a theme in my statements earlier, is that these are all systems, components, to keep guns from prohibited people.

1:00:15.3 PW: Setting your standards right is the other important component, so people with a history of violence. People will be surprised there's a lot of people [chuckle] with sketchy records and backgrounds who can legally obtain guns. We published this article in 2014, I believe, looking in a large survey from a federal study of people in state prisons, we looked at the subset who were in there for committing violent acts with firearms. And we looked at the 13 states with the lowest standards for who can legally obtain a gun, and only 40% of those people committing those acts were prohibited, which means, of course, that 60% were legal to have the guns. And about half of that chunk of the pie, if you wanna think of this in terms of a pie chart, would have been prohibited in states with higher standards. So, whatever background check system, licensing system you have, how much impact it'll be depends upon those standards where you draw the line and how many people with risky backgrounds are able to get guns.

1:01:21.4 PW: And I'll go to the second question about the constitutionality component. I've actually co-authored a paper with a Yale Law student, published a year or so ago now, I can't remember exactly, showing that these cases have been challenged, these laws have been challenged, and every time they've been upheld, actually been an expert witness in some of those cases, but of course, if anybody's paying attention, in July, the Supreme Court had a completely new and weird, sorry, the technical term, interpretation, of the Second Amendment that gets to this idea of whether whatever policy it is is consistent with the text, history, and tradition roughly at the time of the Constitution. And if you read some of the opinions, which is not fun to do, the Supreme Court ruling was from a concealed carry licensing law, and they were very clear. The idea of a licensing system in and of itself is not, is not, violating the Constitution. They were focused on, in this particular question, whether you needed a proper cause, some unusual reason why you needed a license to carry a concealed gun in New York.

1:02:56.1 PW: So, we're in new terrain now. There may be new challenges to these laws. Thus far, I think we're in a pretty safe place.

1:03:11.2 DS: Thank you. So, if I'm understanding that right, the Supreme Court ruling was specific to licensing to a set of laws for a particular set of people. Is that why it might not be relevant to the broader set of laws? 

1:03:29.1 PW: So the very specific decision was on a law pertaining to licensing for concealed carry. But of course, the Justices made some broader statements when they're talking about the Second Amendment, what it means, how is it applied, and so on. And the general idea is that, well, they acknowledge that even if you go back to those times, well, note, bullets had not been invented at that time, much less assault rifles or any other weapons we have now, but if you draw these basic analogies of restrictions on firearms that go way back to that era, you're on safe ground. And the general idea that there were policies in place designed to keep guns out of the hands... Muskets, I guess, [chuckle] or other dangerous weapons out of the hands of people with violent backgrounds was consistent with that law and tradition of that time.

1:04:29.4 PW: Again, we're getting some really strange decisions in some of the courts subsequent to that, so, we don't know exactly where we're going, to be blunt. But I have reason to believe that this law, this type of law that has the broadest impact on basically all forms of gun violence, I think will be safe.

1:04:56.1 DS: Rod, I had one more question for you before I have a set of questions I'm just gonna throw open to everyone and let's see who grabs them. I was struck by something you said about how black youth and law enforcement often have preconceived notions of how the other will act, and that that then in turn impacts how they act with each other, and I wondered if you could tell us a little bit more about that. It strikes me as something that may not be conducive to policy change, so is there any other way to address that sort of cycle that you're describing? 

1:05:32.9 PB: Yeah. And I think it all comes down to building trust and repairing lost trust. And so, we know, I'm not gonna give a lecture about the history of policing in this country, but it's not a pretty picture, as relates to slave patrols and other types of informal methods to lynch and/or torture people of color. So there's a history there that has to be overcome and make the case that, "Well, those kids weren't alive at that time," but it's also this notion of vicarious negative experiences that people learn about from their family members, and they don't have to necessarily be negatively impacted, but other people tell them, and not in the interest of separating them or causing tension between them and the police, but preparing them for the worst.

1:06:20.4 PB: It's great if you have a positive interaction with an officer, but you need to know not to make sudden movements, to follow the officer's directions, not to give them a reason to overact. So I think with those kinds of conditions, it is unfortunate, but it's the reality, that both police officers and young men of color come to these situations fearful and suspicious of one another. And unless we can have real police reform, real accountability, and efforts to rebuild that trust, that starts with the recognition that the trust is at an all-time low level and what can we do to help have those kinds of honest conversations about why someone might... In my previous research, I have a paper that is on the foundation of what do people do when they don't have confidence in a particular organization or institution, and it's based on Hirschman's Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. And what many of the young men that I interviewed said, "When we see the police, we just run. And we don't run necessarily because we're guilty; we run because we don't want to have a negative encounter. We know they're not gonna treat us respectfully," et cetera, et cetera.

1:07:32.4 PB: And where that might not be a wise strategy, because running to the police means that you're guilty of something, and so then they are going to pursue you, and aggressively. So again, these conditions create a situation where there's going to be bad outcomes. And so, we can, as I said before, have the recognition that there is, for a variety of legitimate reasons, tension between police and minority communities. But for the police to recognize, because they have the mechanisms, because they are an official institution, to help try to rebuild that trust and repair those relationships and acknowledge that we have been part of the problem and that these are problems of our own creation.

1:08:19.1 DS: Sonali, I think, mentioned and maybe a number of others did, the fact that our current estimate is something along the lines of us having 400 million guns in the United States, which I believe is tens of millions more than we have of cellphones, which seem ubiquitous, more than we have TVs or cars. Is there any hope of reducing the number of guns, or are there any strategies that could, at any sort of scale, reduce the number of guns we have, or are we basically just stuck with this number and have to figure out how to build policies to, I think you said, safely coexist? 

1:09:02.3 PR: I'm gonna defer to... Actually, I'm not sure.

1:09:06.2 PW: Can I take a crack at this one? 

1:09:06.8 PR: Yes.

1:09:06.8 PW: Okay.

1:09:08.7 DS: I'm throwing all of these open to all of you, but...

1:09:09.3 PW: Okay. So, it will be a huge challenge to lower the number of guns available in the United States legally, culturally, whatever. What will lower the rate, how many people have guns is... One thing that Rod just referred to is basically more trust in police. Long line of research showing that gun ownership is highly, highly correlated with whether you have faith in the police to protect you. We're at all-time lows in that category, and we're at all-time highs, perhaps, in terms of new gun acquisition and carrying. So, I think we have to enact a number of policies, and when I say "policies," I'm not only saying laws, new laws. I think laws are part of the equation, of course, but I think through a variety of mechanisms, and I'll cover some of this ground tomorrow if anybody shows up for that, that yeah, we have a lot of evidence-based strategies to lower gun violence.

1:10:28.8 PW: We have some strategies to improve trust in police. So I don't think that we are doomed forever for the same sort of existence of incredibly high gun ownership and incredibly high rates of gun violence. When I started my career in the early '90s, we were at historic peaks there, and everybody was as pessimistic as you could be, that this will never change, and we are doomed forever. Within a matter of five years, we had a 50% reduction. Do I think we're gonna have a 50% reduction in five years? Probably not. But what I wanna say is that when you're in these times that we're in right now, it seems like it can only be this way, and I suspect it's not always going to be this way. I hope and pray that it is not always gonna be this way.

1:11:28.1 DS: So the tide can turn and we can see improvement at scale, and it sounds like this process that Rod is laying out of building trust, acknowledging and addressing the past, and building trust between law enforcement and communities, could be an important piece of the puzzle in reducing the interest of people have of owning guns.

1:11:56.1 PB: Yeah. And I would say that that trust has to also recognize that particularly the most disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately inhabited by black residents are over-policed and under-policed at the same time. And so, as Professor Webster said, not having confidence that the police are gonna solve crimes, that the police are gonna do anything about, you know, my victimization. And so some of the research that I've done in New York City, young people carry guns and we ask them, "Well, why do you carry guns?" They were like, "Because everybody else is carrying a gun. All my rivals are carrying guns, and I see people that shot my friend walking through the neighborhood and the police haven't done anything about it."

1:12:35.2 PB: So we have to create an environment where neighborhoods are objectively safer so that we can, if we have any promise or there's any optimism about asking people to put down their guns, they have to have some kind of assurance that they're not gonna be the victims of gun violence because they chose to follow the laws and policies or whatever in place.

1:12:58.1 DS: So there's a collective action challenge here. So, I have one more question and I'm gonna turn it over to our student question-askers. We had a question about gun trafficking and understanding the effectiveness of state gun laws when a neighboring state might have weaker laws, and whether or not there's anything that can be done on gun trafficking or what role that plays.

1:13:27.0 PW: If I could have planted a question, that would have been it.


1:13:30.3 PW: That's perfect. Well, one of the things we know without debate, literally no debate whatsoever, is the guns flow from weak gun law states to stronger strict gun law states. Very well-established fact. I had to do a study just to confirm it, but that's true. However, all of the research, that I very broadly covered in eight minutes or whatever, is generally, What do we find when states do policy X on guns, and they make their laws stricter? And yes, we do see some gun flow coming in from other states, but the net effect is lower rates of gun violence. And the reason is that that is a signal that the cost of getting guns in the underground market has gone up, and we formally studied that in Baltimore after Maryland's fire licensing system was adopted. 40% told us, "Yeah, that law made it harder for us to get guns." And yes, we did look at trace data and they were flowing in from other states, but it was still harder and it was more expensive to get guns when you have strong state laws.

1:15:02.5 PB: And I'll add to that, that in some young people, some prohibited from having guns, some because of their age and some because of prior convictions, said that when they would go to state... They were going to family vacation to the south, and they would bring back and gun or two. But they would also apply a tax to that because they took the risk of bringing it back, so, to the point of making them more difficult to get, but also more expensive, by applying that tax to them because they knew that now, that the demand is going up and so has the cost.

1:15:32.1 DS: So there is leakage across states, but the law, state laws, still have this discernible impact just by increasing the cost and difficulty of accessing guns. Kylie and Zan? 

1:15:53.1 Zan: Okay, so we had a lot of questions about gun lobbies, so we wanna know, given these suggested policy solutions, how do we actually work towards implementing them, given that there's a lot of red tape in getting politicians to act from gun lobbies, throwing money everywhere? 

1:16:08.5 PZ: I can start with that. So domestic violence gun laws have had an easier time passing than many other types of gun laws because those who are lobbying for them frame it as protecting moms and kids. And who wants to come out as against the safety of moms and babies? So in some states, there's been not support from your typical gun lobbies, but they kind of don't say anything about those.

1:16:55.0 PW: So, this is difficult, but honestly, the main message is that organizing matters and voting on this issue matters. The reason we have the laws that we have is because we've been complacent, and we've let a very small minority, honestly, create pretty radical laws. We do national gun policy surveys every other year, and what we find incredibly consistently is that gun owners and non-gun owners, Republicans and Democrats, actually agree on a lot of this stuff. It's the lobbies. So, things do change when people vote on it. In the 2018 elections after Parkland, when youth organized, there was a big effect of who got elected that next round. I am... There's a lot of things that I'm worried about. Okay? I'm not worried about our youth. Our youth care about these things, they wanna make change, and I believe that they can. Look, it's not gonna be easy, but I think that this is a winnable issue if you organize.

1:18:25.0 Kylie: Thank you so much...

1:18:26.5 PR: Okay.

1:18:26.7 Kylie: Oh, so sorry.

1:18:27.4 PR: Can I add? Maybe this will come up, but I think echoing everything that's been said, and I would add to that, that reframing the public discourse on the issue, I think is actually also very important in that. So when we talk about school gun violence, talk about it as a learning issue. Talk about it as a child health issue, right? Reframing it not as a gun versus or gun rights issue; it's about safety, it's about learning, it's about children, it's about their... It's about teachers. So I think a lot of it has to do with also the way we frame the problem and what we advocate as solution. So this in concert with lots of other preventive steps. So I think, I think that's part of the way in which the public can then talk about it in this way. That's less politically hot button, I guess.

1:19:24.0 PW: I'll tell you what does not work.


1:19:25.7 PW: Okay. It is just being anti-gun. Okay? 

1:19:30.4 PR: Right.

1:19:30.4 PW: There's so much cultural stuff connected to what that means. What, to many people when you say you hate guns or whatever, to them, it's like, Well, you hate me because my identity, my culture, my history is connected to gun ownership. I grew up in Kentucky. I understand that. So, you have to take it a safety orientation to this, and not be anti-gun, period.

1:20:00.8 Kylie: Just checking. [chuckle] Thank you all so much. The next question we had is about how do communities and individuals fit into this "policy-focused solutions," and how can you ensure implementation is successful in these communities? 

1:20:15.2 PW: Can you say the last part of that again? I'm sorry.

1:20:17.2 Kylie: Yeah. And how can you ensure that implementation is successful in these communities? 

1:20:22.1 PW: Yeah. Anybody wanna go? I mean, I can grab a mic and go.


1:20:27.4 PB: I'll take it. I think it's, again, what's been shared with us, is organizing and demanding what these conversations that we're having as particularly around police reform have caused people to listen to communities about what they want. And they can certainly point to what they don't want. And I think one of the things that gets misunderstood and misrepresented is that communities, those that are experiencing high rates of crime and high rates of police violence, they still see that there's a need and a role for the police to play in those communities. So, that was one of the, I think, errors in messaging, as we talked about, would defund the police. And communities don't want to be left vulnerable, particularly communities where the only reliable institution that they have, and oftentimes, sadly, it's the police.

1:21:19.8 PB: So we can't just say, "We don't want the police," but we can think about, what type of policing do we want? What are some effective police/community relations that seem to be working? What are some public safety strategies that recognize the humanity of police and the humanity of the people who are being policed and so that they can come together and have productive conversations, as opposed to lining up on one side of this artificial line. The public safety issue involve everyone. And again, it's not that people are anti-police; it's that they're anti-abuse, or they're anti-corruption, or they're anti-police violence.

1:21:55.0 PW: Can I piggyback on on that? Because this is a huge issue in Baltimore, and I suspect in many other cities, but Baltimore is where I do my work, and I know that issue quite well. And boy, if we had our problems with gun law enforcement in Baltimore with very illegal, inequitable ways in which gun laws were being enforced, we... Because of these frustrations and the in-custody death of Freddy Gray, we had enormous riots in 2015 that, literally, overnight 70% increase in gun violence. That has not abated. I don't think this is a coincidence. I think police did retreat from those communities, and communities retreated from police.

1:22:52.4 PW: We developed initially a partnership with police department, prosecutors, mayor's office to try to look at these things and develop evidence-informed solutions. And honestly, we worked tirelessly for about three years, internally. And then we sort of threw up our hands and said, "We have to do this in a public way, in a more transparent way," and we developed a report. We surveyed and did focus groups in the most impacted communities in Baltimore, impacted both by police violence and gun violence, and asked them, "What do you want from police as it relates to gun violence?" And not by accident, we asked them a lot of questions relevant to accountability, about transparency, to clean up their act.

1:23:46.5 PW: And not surprisingly, it was overwhelming. Yeah, they do want the police to address the gun violence in their communities, but they also wanted these accountability practices. And we developed a set of recommendations informed by prior research that we have done, but also by what the residents said they want. I had a conversation earlier this week with the incoming state's attorney prosecutor about adopting many of the recommendations that we put in, because in essence, that prosecutor can be in essence of policing of the police and how they're doing this work. So, thank you for that question.

1:24:27.3 Zan: Thank you guys for that. Can you guys speak on the impact of firearm laws with regards to racial equality, I guess, in terms of like proposed policies and current policies? 

1:24:39.1 PZ: I can start. So, I talked about those domestic violence restraining order firearm restriction laws, and in a follow-up analysis to the analysis I talked about, I looked at the effect of these laws on intimate partner homicide in the black community and intimate partner homicide in the white community. In the white community, we still saw significant reductions. In the black community, these laws had no effect. And this was only a high-level policy analysis, so, it does not point the way to solutions. I'm hoping this new study I'm doing will help us get there. But it could be that there's not as much enforcement of these gun restrictions in the black community. I honestly thought that we would see they would be more effective because of over-policing, but that wasn't shown. But we are seeing this kind of tale of two communities, and we do need to get to the bottom of why exactly that's happening so that we can fix it.

1:26:01.7 DS: Actually, I was curious to follow up, if you don't mind if I quickly interject, on this particular topic. Because it seemed like most of the policies, if they are most effective, require police to go and get the relinquished gun, which seems like maybe a dangerous... Maybe not what the police wanna do. So, I could imagine lower enforcement in communities of color, where maybe the consequences are perceived as not as bad to them. Do you have any lessons or any thoughts on how you make these interactions, have we learned anything? Do they ever get violent? 

1:26:46.9 PZ: I haven't heard of any of them getting violent, and I've studied implementation. Particularly I wanna call out Milwaukee. Milwaukee does this dispossession. They have law enforcement officers who are specifically signed, so, assigned to this, so, they get practiced, they do it. I asked them, "Does it ever get heated, do people give you the guns?" And their response was, "What we do is approach these people with respect." And, yeah, they have this restraining order, they did some bad things, but that doesn't mean they're not worthy of treating them with dignity. So you treat them with dignity, you build a rapport. Maybe they don't wanna give you their guns, but they'll tell them, "You know what? I understand you don't wanna give me your guns, but you really don't wanna get jammed up by being found with a gun that's now illegal. It's not worth it." And they are able to get those guns. And one of the law enforcement officers I spoke to said that his goal was to make the person smile, [chuckle] at least once during their conversation. It doesn't have to be a conflict. If you treat people with dignity and respect, they'll respond.

1:28:12.5 PB: And I have an example of that also, I'm sorry, to draw on in terms of... And it hasn't been effective in all places that it's been implemented, but in terms of surrendering guns. And so, in some cities, parents who suspect that their kids have guns, illegally, of course, can call the police and say, "Hey, my youth has a gun, I want it out of my house." The police have made assurances that they're not gonna arrest anyone, they're just coming in looking for the gun, they're not looking for anything else, drugs or whatever. But that requires trust. And I don't think that that extends to every police officer, but it has to be the right officers who are involved in those efforts, where parents feel as though the officers are gonna treat their loved one with respect and dignity.

1:28:57.8 DS: Maybe we have time for one more question? 

1:29:01.4 Kylie: Yeah, definitely. Thank you so much. The last question we have is, what role does research have in helping drive these policy solutions and conversations? 

1:29:10.6 PR: A lot. We're biased, and...

1:29:16.2 DS: The reason for her to say a lot...


1:29:16.6 PR: You guys, research is really important. I think on any issue, when we see the successes and improvements in well-being and health outcomes or what have you, drinking and driving, traffic safety, just anything we think of where we've seen a lot of really meaningful progress, it's been driven by evidence-informed policies and practices. And what that means is we're bringing to the table a set of guidelines and recommendations that are driven not by emotion or by assumption or by how we might feel on a given issue or how we might vote, but really driven by the best possible science. And that is... That's the beauty of this. And science is done in partnership with schools, with communities. When it's that kind of work, it's remarkable and it's transformative. And I think one of the things I appreciate so much about the work my colleagues do in this field as a whole is that it's a field driven by that science. And this is very much a solvable problem, which I say to my students all the time, but it's solvable because there's so much...

1:30:34.3 PR: While there's a lot we still don't know, there's a lot we do know, as you've heard this evening, that could be used and could be implemented now and done well. So, that's where the research, that investment, is so meaningful. We think about fund-raising for cancer prevention and all sorts of other things that we don't really think twice about the value of research. It shouldn't be that case here, either. So that, to me, feels like... That is a win-win for everybody, where we benefit from that learning and from that data.

1:31:08.5 DS: And that's a great place to end. So, please give our panelists a warm...


1:31:18.2 DS: And I think we have a little reception out in the hallway, so please join us for a little more conversation and networking. Thank you, all.

1:31:24.8 S?: Thank you.