Gun violence is a hot topic in America. One of the questions most often asked is “How can we stop gun violence?” What is less often asked is what has already worked to stop it. In truth, gun crime and violent crime rates decline for a variety of reasons, some of which can be hard to pinpoint.

For example, when you look at a decline in violent crime in Cleveland compared to Wichita Falls, numbers can vary greatly based upon populations. When you take a first look at numbers, they can be deceiving.

When different factors are isolated, however, using controls and comparison groups, the numbers are more accurate. A 2008 meta-analysis is currently considered to be the most thorough study of the effects of approaches that have appeared to have a very real impact on the reduction of gun crime and other crimes of violence.

First, let’s take a look at what hasn’t worked; according to the numbers at least.

  •  Greater prison sentences for crimes that involve a gun or guns.
  • Buy back programs that attempt to get guns off of the streets.
  • Public safety campaigns and safe storage laws.

Next, we look at the methods that have not been proved or disproved as effective.

  •  Brady Act requirements and other background checks.
  • Bans on specific weapons types. These include handgun bans and assault weapons bans.

So what actually works? According to studies, these measures have worked to reduce gun violence in many cases.

  •  Intensive probation for those who have been convicted of gun crimes.
  • Increased patrols in violent hot spots and other changes in policing strategies.
  • Community programs that include cooperation among law enforcement, researchers, and community leaders.

What should be obvious is that there is no single solution. The methods that work often work best when put in place in concert with one another. The fact that there are policies that have not yet been put in place must also be considered. While there is no single method that will wipe out gun or other violent crimes in totality, there are those that can make a significant dent in the statistics.

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