Statisticians Engage in Gun Violence Research

Greg Ridgeway, James L. Rosenberger, Lingzhou Xue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Government reports document more than 14,000 homicides and more than 195,000 aggravated assaults with firearms in 2017. In addition, there were 346 mass shootings, with 4 or more victims, including over 2000 people shot. These statistics do not include suicides (two-thirds of gun deaths) or accidents (5% of gun deaths). This article describes statistical issues discussed at a national forum to stimulate collaboration between statisticians and criminologists. Topics include: (i) available data sources and their shortcomings and efforts to improve the quality, and alternative new data registers of shootings; (ii) gun violence patterns and trends, with statistical models and clustering effects in urban areas; (iii) research for understanding effective strategies for gun violence prevention and the role of the police in solving gun homicides; (iv) the role of reliable forensic science in solving cases involving shootings; and (v) the topic of police shootings, where they are more prevalent and the characteristics of the officers involved. The final section calls the statistical community to engage in collaborations with social scientists to provide the most effective methodological tools for understanding and mitigating the societal problem of gun violence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalStatistics and Public Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Public Administration
  • Statistics, Probability and Uncertainty
  • Applied Mathematics


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