clear Appendix F: Inventory of Promising Gun Violence Reduction Strategies

Overview of Approach

The range and focus of strategies currently employed by communities attempting to implement effective gun violence reduction programs were examined by conducting a two-wave national telephone inventory of promising strategies to reduce firearms violence. To facilitate selection of these programs, the project team developed a taxonomy of strategies based on a review of available program information and research findings (see table 1). The taxonomy's gun violence focus areas include reducing illegal access to guns, reducing use of guns by violent perpetrators, and reducing accidents related to gun violence. Strategies for reducing gun violence include legislative and regulatory approaches, gun supply initiatives (suppression and interdiction), and demand reduction programs (prevention and intervention).

Table 1. Taxonomy of Gun Violence Reduction Strategies
Table 1. Taxonomy of Gun Violence Reduction Strategies

An inventory of promising programs and strategies was conducted during May and June 1998. The inventory covered gun supply initiatives by Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies to remove illegal weapons from the community and demand reduction strategies focusing on preventing possession, carrying, and use of illegal guns by adults and youth. Strategies involving legislation and regulation were limited to State and local laws and regulations perceived as having an impact on the development of supply-and-demand programs. A comprehensive review of the impact of Federal gun control laws, such as the Brady Bill, was not included in this inventory.

Based on the results of the inventory, an indepth screening of selected strategies was conducted during August and September 1998. Comprehensive gun violence reduction programs incorporating both gun supply and gun demand strategies were selected for followup case studies. The project team conducted site visits to these selected comprehensive programs during October 1998.

Wave 1

Telephone Inventory

During May and June 1998, the project team identified 425 candidate gun violence reduction programs by contacting agencies and organizations that had been funding or supporting innovative and effective programs (appendix B lists these programs). The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) funded or partly funded many of the programs and strategies in the inventory. In addition, the project team contacted other Federal agencies, individuals, and private organizations involved in programs that reduce gun violence (appendix C presents a list of contact sources). The project team then developed a telephone interview protocol to gather relevant program data. The protocol included questions on program goals, targeted populations, development of measurable goals and objectives, and other pertinent information (this protocol is located at the end of this appendix). The project team's ability to conduct effective telephone surveys was contingent on identifying and contacting a project director or other key stakeholder who was knowledgeable about the strategy.

Selection Criteria

The inventory was used to identify initiatives that had the following characteristics:

  • A program structure with active participation by a variety of public and community organizations, including Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies; prosecutors; courts; probation and parole; county and State corrections institutions; substance abuse treatment programs; job-readiness programs; schools; health services; youth-serving agencies; community grassroots organizations; parents; the faith community; local businesses; and the media.

  • A plan for reducing gun violence based on a needs assessment of the gun violence problems in the community and baseline data that identified specific high-risk target populations. The plan also was to include effective strategies with measurable goals and outcomes.

  • Gun violence reduction strategies that addressed supply and access issues (e.g., police suppression and enforcement, gun tracing, and community mobilization) and demand and prevention issues (e.g., justice system programs, intensive supervision, aftercare placements, mentoring, school tutoring, gun violence educational programs, parenting support, crisis counseling, and public media campaigns).

Analysis of the Telephone Inventory

Strategies identified during the telephone inventory were assessed by assigning them to one of three levels of program development (see table 2). The criteria for these assessments included completion of a comprehensive needs (problem) assessment, availability of baseline data, identification of target groups, development of well-planned strategies based on an analysis of a problem assessment, a written plan linking the strategies, and identification of measurable goals and objectives.

Table 2. Three Levels for Assessing Program Capacity
Table 2. Three Levels for Assessing Program Capacity

Limitations of the Inventory Process

While comprehensive and thorough, this inventory did not attempt to sample programs scientifically from a known universe of gun violence reduction strategies. Known program sources were targeted because of the limited timeframe in which the inventory had to be completed. Another significant limitation was the lack of consistent evaluation outcome information. Many of the programs contacted were not engaged in formal evaluations. These included initiatives not funded by Federal, State or local governments. However, many locally supported programs have extensive evaluation results, and in other instances, government-funded initiatives were not engaged in impact evaluations.

Report of Initial Findings to a Focus Group

The telephone inventory data were analyzed and drafted into a "Summary of the National Survey of Promising Violence Reduction Strategies." The program profiles included in this report documented those strategies and initiatives that met the criteria for effective programs described above. They contained descriptions of 89 strategies that demonstrated promise in reducing gun violence. On July 30, 1998, the Attorney General's Working Group held a focus group meeting to discuss the Summary Report and provide feedback on its contents. The focus group was composed of mayors, government representatives, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, judges, researchers, and community representatives. Comments from the focus group were assembled by the project team and used to revise the structure of the final Report.

Wave 2

Followup Screening and Data Collection

To identify the most promising of those strategies presented in the Summary Report, a followup telephone screening was conducted. The screening included an intensive review of the promising firearms violence reduction strategies based on data documenting the strength of these interventions. This included evaluation reports or other documentation on third-party assessments or outcomes. Data sources used to assess those outcomes also were reviewed by the project team. Candidate strategies for intensive case study were selected from among those reviewed during this second screening process.

Site Visits to Promising Programs

The project team, in collaboration with members of the Attorney General's Working Group, selected a small group of promising programs for intensive case study site visits. The following criteria were used to select these sites:

  • Had a comprehensive implementation plan for reducing gun violence.

  • Included active participation by a variety of agencies, including law enforcement and community-based organizations.

  • Used strategies that included a range of both gun supply and demand reduction components.

  • Identified specific short- and long-term outcomes, and had data for measuring specified outcomes.

  • Expressed an interest and willingness to participate in the case study process.

The sites selected for the intensive case studies included the following:

  • Operation Ceasefire --Boston, MA.

  • Minnesota HEALS -- Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN.

  • East Bay Public Safety Corridor -- Oakland, CA.

  • Comprehensive Homicide Initiative -- Richmond, CA.

  • Youth, Firearms, and Violence in Atlanta -- Atlanta, GA.

  • Partnership to Reduce Juvenile Gun Violence -- Baton Rouge, LA.

  • Comprehensive Communities Program -- Baltimore, MD.

  • Weed and Seed Program -- Indianapolis, IN.

  • Weed and Seed Program -- Buffalo, NY.

  • Juvenile Gun Court -- Birmingham, AL.

During site visits, the project team and members of the Working Group reviewed program documentation and available records from the implementing agencies. The team also examined implementation procedures, investigated causal links between services and outcomes, identified and examined rival hypotheses that may have accounted for the cited outcomes, and, where possible, collected community contextual data. During the site visit, team members interviewed key program administrators, stakeholders, program staff, service providers, and other community and public agency officials, using a semistructured protocol.

During the Wave 1 telephone inventory, many jurisdictions were found to have several candidate strategies focusing on both supply and demand gun violence reduction issues. In most cases, the project team was unable to determine if these strategies were linked into a comprehensive gun violence reduction program. During the Wave 2 followup screening and subsequent site visits, the project team identified those jurisdictions where comprehensive gun violence reduction programs had been implemented. Information was collected to assess how these multiple strategies were linked and whether the programs had an organizational structure to monitor program outcomes.

Development of This Report

The project team identified promising strategies for reducing gun violence for inclusion in the Report by conducting programmatic reviews of strategies with documented outcomes. For inclusion in the Report, the strategies must have implemented innovative strategies based on well-developed and recognizably effective program development procedures. The project team also collected formal evaluation data, when available, and data compiled by the programs themselves. In many instances, programs are included even if they have not been formally evaluated. Each profile in the Report contains the following information:

  • Preexisting community problems related to gun violence.

  • Goals of the gun violence reduction strategy.

  • Populations targeted by the strategy.

  • The organization and structure of the strategy, including lead agency, key stakeholders, and coordinating structures.

  • The gun violence reduction strategy(s), including roles, procedures employed, and so on.

  • Quantifiable outcomes and impact measures, where possible.

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