GUIDE TO THE REPORT

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The chapters that follow review and analyze what is known about

firearms and violence. Chapter 2 describes the major data sources for research

on firearms and violence. This summary assesses the strengths and

weaknesses of each system and suggests improvements necessary to make

significant advances in understanding the role of firearms in violence. Chapter

3 is a summary of the data describing the extent of firearm violence,

firearm ownership, the perpetrators and victims of firearm violence, and

the context in which firearm violence occurs. Descriptive in form, it also

identifies gaps in understanding of some of the basic facts about the role

firearms play in intentional violence. Chapter 4 addresses how criminals

and those who use firearms to commit suicide gain access to them. It

includes an assessment of various attempts to limit access by everyone and

by selected subsets of the population. Chapter 5 assesses the research on the

use of firearms to defend against crime, and Chapter 6 examines the impact

of laws that facilitate the carrying of weapons.

The committee paid close attention to these issues because they have

been central to the recent scholarship on firearms and because they demonstrate

many of the difficulties of doing research on firearms and violence.

Committee member Joel Horowitz further discusses these issues in Appendix

D. Committee member James Q. Wilson has written a dissent that

applies to Chapter 6 only (Appendix A), and the committee has written a

response (Appendix B).

Chapter 7 considers the role of firearms in suicide. While some of the

issues are similar to those encountered in the study of violence, the differences

are such that separate attention is required, especially for issues of motivation,

firearm acquisition, and lethality. In Chapter 8 we analyze the research

on the prevention of firearm violence, reviewing research on the effectiveness

of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention programs. Special attention is

given to efforts to prevent gun use by youth. Chapter 9 examines the role

criminal justice interventions can play in reducing firearm violence. While

many of these efforts are new and have not been adequately evaluated, they

are frequently thought to hold promise for immediate impact.