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Mason’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy leads congressional briefing on mass shootings

September 26, 2019

Mason criminology, law and society professor Christopher Koper presents research findings at congressional briefing on mass shootings in September. Photo provided.

George Mason University’s Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy hosted its 11th annual congressional briefing at the U.S. Capitol on Sept. 17 with a theme of “Countering Mass Shootings in the United States.”

The event, which was led by Mason Professors Christopher Koper and Cynthia Lum of the CEBCP and Professor Daniel Nagin of Carnegie Mellon University, highlighted research from multiple experts from across the United States on issues connected to mass shootings, including firearms policies, mental illness, threat assessment, domestic violence, “red-flag” laws and rapid response efforts.

The briefing is the culmination of a year-long effort by the center to bring more attention to how research might inform public policy on the issue, said Lum, a professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society and the CEBCP director. In April, the center hosted a National Science Foundation workshop on the topic, with the papers from the workshop and briefing set to be published in the February 2020 issue of Criminology & Public Policy, the flagship policy journal of the American Society of Criminology.

“Countering mass shootings is among the highest priority items on our nation’s policy agenda,” Nagin said. “There is no easy quick fix for these horrific events—a comprehensive approach is required.”

Nagin, Koper and Lum summarized 15 policy recommendations for the audience, including stemming the growth of high-capacity firearms, curtailing access to firearms among high-risk individuals, improving threat detection systems, reducing the harm and fatalities of mass shootings and formally tracking mass violence with better data collection.

Koper, an associate professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society and one of the nation’s foremost experts on firearms and firearms violence, noted that “mass shootings have become increasingly severe over the last decade, and we felt that it was important to bring the best available evidence on this issue to the attention of policy makers.”

He said that he hoped that the briefing will encourage a greater focus on the issue of mass shootings among researchers from different fields.

Lum said the CEBCP made a commitment and investment this year to engage the research and policy communities on the subject of mass shootings, an epidemic that she feels requires more research because it is one of the most serious facing the United States.

“The CEBCP is interested in improving data collection, research, evaluation and, ultimately, our understanding of how we can better prevent and respond to these horrible events,” Lum said.