Since the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, public concern and mobilization around the issue of gun violence has surged. President Obama called for universal background checks to limit access to guns by violent offenders. Several states have acted to amend their firearms regulations (sometimes making them more stringent, sometimes less so). Law enforcement agencies in many cities have sought answers to the old question of how they can best separate guns and violence. The interest in gun violence has engendered new research on the topic, adding to the evidence base for formulating sound policy.
The University of Chicago’s Crime Lab has organized a multi-disciplinary group of experts to study the sources of guns to dangerous people. This Multi-City Gun Project is the most comprehensive research project on the underground market. Study sites include Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, New York, and Baltimore, and the researchers are beginning to report findings of direct policy significance.
For an upcoming issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences, economist Philip J. Cook and public policy expert Harold A. Pollack will organize a symposium featuring nine invited articles based on the findings of the Multi-City Gun Project. The RSF issue will address a number of questions, including: What sorts of connections or networks do gang members and other offenders utilize to obtain guns? Do gangs as corporate entities serve as an important source of guns to their members? How do regulations on gun and ammunition transactions affect access of proscribed people to guns and their use in crime? What can be learned from the experience in policing guns in a variety of cities and settings?