Focusing on Places Rather Than Guns

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Focusing on Places Rather Than Guns

Category: Crime, Homicide, Injury|Journal: American Journal of Public Health (full text)|Author: E Blais|Year: 2019

Firearms-related injuries and deaths represent a major public health issue in the United States. Several researchers and professionals have called for additional research about strategies to mitigate morbidity and mortality associated with firearms. In keeping with this recommendation, Moyer et al. (p. 140) recently evaluated the effect of remediating blighted vacant lands on shooting incidents. In this experiment, clusters of blighted vacant lands in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (n = 110), were randomly allocated to one of the following interventions: (1) a greening intervention (including mowing, trash removal, grading the land, planting new grass and trees, and installing wooden fences; n = 37); (2) a less-intensive mowing and trash removal intervention (n = 36); or (3) no intervention (n = 37). Results from difference-in-difference regression models indicated that both interventions were associated with a significant decrease in shootings per month. For instance, the greening and mowing interventions were respectively associated with declines of 6.6% and 8.1% in shootings per square kilometer.

This study not only provided evidence about the capability of place-based programs to prevent gun violence but also addressed several issues raised by experts and professionals concerned about firearms-related violence. On November 14, 2016, 82 participants from 42 public health schools and programs in 22 states and 17 leading public health and gun violence prevention advocacy organizations met in Boston, Massachusetts, to set an action agenda for academic public health around the firearm injury crisis. They identified five leading imperatives and key tactical approaches: strengthening research and scholarship; building public health networks and cross-sector collaborations; promoting a conversation around gun safety; nurturing state-level initiatives, and developing a business plan and engaging the private sector.