clear Section III: Comprehensive Gun Violence Reduction Strategies


During the past decade, the epidemic of gun violence has led residents and law enforcement agencies in each of the communities profiled in this section to form a collaborative to find new solutions to this problem. In some cases, these efforts have been driven by neighborhood residents determined to address the problem of gun violence and to take back their streets. In other communities, crime reduction efforts have been spearheaded by police, prosecutors, the courts, schools, health departments, public and private social service organizations, or members of the faith and business communities.

Regardless of who initiated the various crime prevention efforts, however, these communities have learned that each of these institutions contributes to the collaborative's ability to mobilize resources and implement strategies that produce desired outcomes.1 In particular, citizen participation in crime prevention efforts has been critical to their success and sustainability. Police can do their job more effectively when the community's priorities shape their actions. The subsequent development of trust enhances this partnership and results in greater police-community cooperation and mutual support. These communities have also learned that their efforts must be long-term in order to be effective, and that capacity building in different sectors of the community is needed.

The communities profiled in this section have also successfully engaged in the process of forming partnerships; measuring problems; setting goals; evaluating strategies; and implementing, evaluating, and revising plans described in section II. As such, these successful communities share the following characteristics:

  • The community recognizes its gun violence problems. Support for a collaborative increases if a broad range of community residents and law enforcement representatives recognizes the prevalence and incidence of the gun violence problem and participates in planning and implementing appropriate suppression, intervention, and prevention strategies. A fundamental challenge that many partnerships face in reducing illegal firearm possession, carrying, and use is to convince those who carry guns that they can survive in their neighborhoods without being armed. Programs in these communities must work to dispel the perception of many residents that the authorities can neither protect them nor maintain order in their neighborhoods.2

  • Law enforcement and other key institutional administrators are enlisted as key partners. The active participation of administrators of key agencies that have primary responsibility for the program's participants -- the victims, offenders, and families associated with gun violence -- is instrumental for accessing agency staff resources and identifying other agencies that can provide services to the targeted participants.

  • The collaborative has access to resources. Developing a community partnership requires access to certain resources, including professional staff who are experienced and knowledgeable about delivery of social services to the target populations, volunteers who can maintain the prevention and intervention strategies, and funding from sources within and outside the community.

  • The collaborative develops a comprehensive vision and plan. The partnership must have a core group of members who engage in strategic planning that will produce a comprehensive plan of action. A shared community vision can provide the foundation for engaging in a process that links the vision with measurable goals and strategies. A comprehensive plan requires a series of strategies that are grounded in an understanding of the risk and protective factors associated with gun violence.3 The plan needs to be comprehensive and integrated, using a number of strategies to address gun violence from both a supply and a demand perspective.

  • The collaborative mobilizes and sustains gun violence reduction activities. Productive capacity includes the energy of a core group of partnership members to plan and implement effective strategies. It is important to involve those persons who have a direct stake in the well-being of the community prior to mobilizing residents who live in the affected neighborhoods.

  • The collaborative develops a leadership structure. A productive partnership does not depend on personal charisma but relies on quality leadership and management to build a productive team. This team is the vision-setting, standard-setting core of the partnership and combines talents to help the partnership meet the challenges of structure, strategy, growth, and innovation.

The comprehensive gun violence reduction programs described in this section incorporate multiple suppression and prevention strategies to address risk factors that are associated with violent criminal behavior, including aggressive behaviors at an early age, conflicts with authority, gun possession and carrying, gang membership, substance abuse, depression, exposure to violence, poor parental supervision, low academic achievement, truancy, delinquent peers, drug trafficking, and unemployment. Rather than targeting one or two risk factors associated with gun violence, these collaboratives recognize that their efforts are likely to be more successful if they incorporate strategies that address both the supply and demand side of the illegal firearm market. They have therefore developed comprehensive, multiple-component programs that address the identified risk factors in multiple ways. Such program strategies include targeted police responses, surveillance of probationers, situational crime prevention using problem-solving strategies, parental supervision, peer mediation and conflict resolution, school-based interventions, community mobilization, legislation restricting youth access to guns, and tough sentences for crimes involving firearms. Because gang membership is associated with violent behaviors, many of these comprehensive programs also include intervention strategies to reduce gang-related violence, including the development of geographically coded information systems to track gang violence, restricting gang members' access to firearms, enhancing prosecution of gang crimes, and punishing and monitoring offenders.

Lastly, the communities profiled here have incorporated most of the productive capacity characteristics in their collaborative structures. They have involved community residents, law enforcement, and other public and private agencies in developing a comprehensive plan and have created a strong collaborative structure to mobilize and sustain their gun violence reduction strategies. While these programs may vary in the degree to which the community is an integral part of their collaboratives, each of them has involved the community in assessing its gun violence problems or in implementing effective violence reduction strategies.


1. K. Kumpfer, H.O. Whiteside, A. Wandersman, and E. Cardenas, Community Readiness for Drug Abuse Prevention: Issues, Tips, and Tools, Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1997.

2. S. Greenbaum, "Kids and guns: From playgrounds to battlegrounds," Juvenile Justice 3(2):3­11, 1997.

3. D. Sheppard, "Developing community partnerships to reduce juvenile gun violence," paper presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Washington, DC, 1998.

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Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence OJJDP Report