Taking Action to End Gun Violence: Our Top Tools, Resources, Stories, and Data

Updated: October 25, 2023

Community Commons stands in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine. As support systems and policy priorities emerge in the coming days and weeks, we will update this collection with resources, key actions, and voices from the local community and those most impacted.

In 2022, in the wake of two devastating mass shootings just 10 days apart—the Buffalo grocery store shooting (May 14, 2022) and the Uvalde elementary school shooting (May 24, 2022)—our national attention turned to firearms. Now, over a year later, our attention has been refocused again following an even deadlier event in Lewiston, Maine.

Far from isolated incidents, these mass shootings followed disturbing trends of dramatic increases in gun violence since the onset of COVID-19. In 2020, the crude rate of firearm homicides rose 33% across the U.S. with only a 1.1% increase in firearm suicides. Youth and Black Americans have been most disproportionately impacted: gun violence surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death among youth and children, and Black Americans account for nearly half the nation’s homicide victims despite making up only 14% of the U.S. population. In the first 282 days of 2023 alone, there have been over 540 mass shootings.

Since the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, leaders from the American Public Health Association, the American Medical AssociationKaiser Permanente, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, and others have called for urgent action to address gun violence as a public health crisis. Despite the increased attention, however, gun violence research and prevention in the public health sector has continued to lack adequate urgency. As changemakers and stewards of our communities, it is time for us to consider what addressing gun violence as a public health crisis looks like in practice, and to push for preventing gun violence by addressing root causes.

This collection focuses specifically on taking action. It offers context for addressing gun violence as a systemic public health crisis, and houses some of Community Commons’ best tools, toolkits, resources, datasets, maps, policy briefs, and stories related to ending, preventing, and healing from gun violence.

Addressing the Root Causes of Gun Violence

Following major events like the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, gun violence solutions are often discussed through the lens of high profile mass violence. Gun violence and its increasing impacts, however, aren’t limited to mass shootings and homicides. Gun violence exists along a broad and complex continuum, including: 

Commonly-suggested solutions following mass shootings—like increasing school securityarming teachers, and police crackdowns on illegal activities—are unable to reduce gun violence long-term because they fail to address the majority of gun violence and its root causes.

Gun violence is linked to inequity, inequality, and poverty. Root causes include disparities in income, housing, public services, schooling, and access to care. Isolation, hopelessness, lack of opportunity, past experiences with violence (as either a victim or a perpetrator), and indoctrination into hate groups are also significant factors in committing gun violence.

It’s important to understand the most common underlying factors that lead to violence: untreated anger, family violence, past history of violent acts, growing up where violence is used, and being young and male. To be clear, anger is not a mental illness. Hatred of others is not a mental illness. –Lauren Simonds, Executive Director, NAMI Washington

Because all types of violence are interconnected, addressing gun violence requires addressing all violence, including non-physical violence and hate

Addressing Gun Violence As A Public Health Crisis

The public health field is tasked with protecting and improving the health of all people and their communities. This responsibility is ever changing as the threats against communities change, and the strategies to advance well-being shift in response. As a leading cause of death for our future generations, gun violence has indisputably become a priority for public health in the United States. 

Addressing gun violence as a public health crisis involves: 

  1. Understanding and acknowledging the significant public health impacts of gun violence, including long-term, systemic impacts, and

  2. Urgently deploying a public health response to gun violence, including improving research and data collection and tracking, increasing funding, and acting on data-driven prevention strategies, interventions, and policies.

Each year, over 45,000 Americans lose their lives to gun violence, and over 120,000 are injured. The impacts of gun violence, however, go much deeper. Exposure to gun violence (being threatened or injured with a firearm, or witnessing gun violence) also has significant lasting impacts on the health and wellbeing of people and communities. It alters brain chemistry—especially in developing brains—and can lead to chronic fear and feelings of insecurity, trauma and traumatic stress, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), antisocial feelings and behavior, alcohol and substance use, and other lifelong health and mental health issues associated with traumatic stressors. People exposed to gun violence are also more likely to engage in violence, perpetuating the cycles of harm, trauma, and inequity.

While there are evidence-based interventions to reduce gun violence at the community level, and mental health treatments to support individuals exposed to gun violence, those most impacted often lack access to these vital services. Funding—for both improved data collection and monitoring, and for implementing solutions—is one significant barrier. Between the 1990s and 2019, no federal funding was allocated to gun violence, creating significant gaps in community-level data and severely limiting changemakers’ abilities to make meaningful progress on reducing and preventing gun violence. The public health field is uniquely suited to address this gap and bring data-driven solutions, interventions, and policies back to the forefront of public gun violence discourse.

Public health and related professionals can start by incorporating gun violence into existing frameworks and research (such as calling out gun violence as an Adverse Childhood Experience), and pushing for increased funding, improved research and data monitoring, and better prevention strategies and policies. Labeling gun violence as a public health crisis is an important first step in creating the urgency and leverage needed to end gun violence.

Actions to Get Started

In practice, ending gun violence involves addressing both gun control and resolving systemic issues contributing to all types of violence, including abuse, isolation, untreated anger, inequity, and socioeconomic disparities. With this goal in mind, anti-violence movement-building must always collaborate with and advance justice movements for all marginalized people and our shared environment and communities.

Because gun violence in the United States is deeply systemic, action can take many forms. Key actions to start with include:

To provide direct support to those impacted by recent mass gun violence, consider:

Please reach out with any suggested actions, resources, stories, or tools you think should be included here. We are committed to supporting the movement to end gun violence in the United States, and would love to hear from you.


Serin Bond-Yancey (they/she) is a Disabled, queer, multiply-neurodivergent, antiracist accomplice, and communications, equity, and accessibility professional. They are the Senior Communications and Design Consultant at IP3, and a Staff Editor for Community Commons. 

Screen capture of Gun Safety Policies Save Lives
Gun Safety Policies Save Lives
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Screen shot of article photo: Gun Violence Must Stop: Here's What We Can Do to Prevent More Deaths
Gun Violence Must Stop. Here's What We Can Do to Prevent More Deaths
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by Prevention Institute
Screen shot of article photo: To Reduce Gun Violence, Start at the Local Level
To Reduce Gun Violence, Start at the Local Level
Story - Written
Brought to you by CalMatters
Screen shot of top of web page: Solutions to Gun Violence
Solutions to Gun Violence
Resource - Data Bank/repository
Brought to you by Johns Hopkins University

Gun Violence Tools, Data, and Maps

Screen shot of archive table: Gun Violence Archive
Gun Violence Archive
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Screen shot of article map: Mass Shootings in America
Mass Shootings in America
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Screen shot of top of article: US Mass Shootings, 1982-2022
U.S. Mass Shootings, 1982-2023
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Screen shot of firearm mortality map: Firearm Mortality By State
Firearm Mortality by State
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Brought to you by CDC
Screen shot of article photo: Mass Shooter Database
Mass Shooter Database
Tool - Data/mapping Tool

Gun Violence Research, Reports, and Fact Sheets

PDF Cover Page: The Firearms Data Gap
The Firearms Data Gap
Resource - Journal Article
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Gun Violence, Prevention of (Position Paper)
Resource - Assessment
Brought to you by AAFP
PDF Cover page: Ending Student Criminalization and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Ending Student Criminalization and the School-to-Prison Pipeline
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by New York University
Screen shot of top of paper: How to Buy a Gun in 16 Countries
How to Buy a Gun in 16 Countries
Resource - Journal Article
Brought to you by NYT

Police Violence-Specific Resources

Screen shot of Stranger Fruit photo:
“Stranger Fruit”: Black Mothers and the Fear of Police Brutality
Story - Written
Brought to you by The Marshall Project
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The Answer to Police Violence is not "Reform." It's Defunding. Here's Why
Resource - Blog
Brought to you by The Guardian
Screen shot of the homepage
Campaign Zero
Resource - Website/webpage
Brought to you by WeTheProtesters
Screen grab of Mapping Police Violence
Mapping Police Violence
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Brought to you by Mapping Police Violence
Screen shot of top of database: Police Shootings Database 2015-2022
Police Shootings Database 2015-2022
Tool - Data/mapping Tool
Brought to you by WaPo
Image of a mural depicting George Floyd. A blue banner in the top right corner reads
Trend Bending Policies for Advancing Racial Justice Part 1: Ending Police Violence
Story - Original
Brought to you by Community Commons

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