Gun Violence

Gun violence

APA advocates for a public health approach to gun violence prevention, supporting evidence-based programs and policies that can reduce the occurrence and impact of firearm-related violence in the United States.

Tell Congress to support a public health approach to gun violence prevention.

APA's Recommendations to Prevent Gun Violence

School Violence Prevention

Improve and Expand School-based Violence Prevention Efforts

  • Implement evidence-based school violence prevention protocols.
  • Foster positive and safe school climate.
  • Facilitate program implementation through training and research.
  • Utilize threat assessment strategies.
Enhance access

Enhance Access to Mental Health and Substance Use Services

  • Provide broader access to health care under Medicaid.
  • Promote integrated health care.
Enhance knowledge

Support Research and Evidence-based Public Policies on Violence

  • Increase funding for the National Violent Death Reporting System to support nationwide expansion.
  • Fund scientific research across federal agencies into the causes and prevention of violence.
  • Establish a federal advisory panel to ensure that existing scientific evidence is used to inform policy.

Make Communities Safer

  • Support policies that reduce access to firearms by youth and individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others.
  • Create community-based threat assessment processes in coordination with school and workplace teams.
  • Institute public health campaigns to encourage help-seeking by people in distress.
  • Intervene with at-risk families.
  • Encourage safe storage of firearms in the home.
Candles at a vigil ceremony


Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy
APA Report

Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention and Policy

Research-based conclusions and recommendations (and to identify gaps in such knowledge) on how to reduce the incidence of gun violence nationwide.
APA Policy

APA Resolution on Gun Violence Prevention

This resolution encourages the scientific study of firearm violence and its prevention and psychologists to respond to the problem of firearm violence.
What Can You Do?
What Can You Do?

Gun Violence Prevention: Understanding the Research and What You Can Do

Psychologists and other scientists are working to develop effective methods to reduce gun violence.

Take Action Now

APA Action on Gun Violence Prevention

March 2018

APA Urges Congress to take Public Health Approach to Gun Violence Prevention

On March 15, 2018, APA leadership sent a letter (PDF, 88KB) asking Congressional leadership to take a public health approach to prevent gun violence. Specifically, APA called on Congress to:

  • Adopt common sense restrictions on access to guns.
  • Invest in greater support for individuals in crisis.
  • Increase funding for gun violence research.
  • Support school, family and community-based prevention efforts.

These policy proposals represent approaches supported by the strongest body of evidence. In an attachment (PDF, 164KB) to the letter, APA shared specific recommendations for legislation.

October 2017

Energy and Commerce Democrats invite APA member to Discuss Gun Violence as a Public Health Issue

Susan Sorenson, PhD, represented APA at an Oct. 26 forum held by the Committee on Energy and Commerce Democrats on gun violence as a public health issue. Held in the members room of the Library of Congress, committee members heard from public health experts on approaches to prevent gun violence and the role federally funded research must play in America’s response to the gun violence epidemic. Panelists included public health experts in pediatrics, emergency medicine and domestic violence. Sorenson’s remarks focused on the prevalence of firearm suicides and the use of firearms as a means of control in domestic violence

October 2017

Testimony at Panel "Rethinking Guns and Mental Illness"

APA Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer Amalia Corby participated in an Oct. 23 panel discussion sponsored by U.S. Senator Al Franken and U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano that brought together advocates from the mental health community and experts in violence prevention research to discuss messaging about gun violence in a way that does not stigmatize individuals with mental illness. Corby presented information from the APA report Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention, and Policy and discussed how individuals with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of violence. Panelists weighed legislative options for empowering loved ones and law enforcement officers to temporarily remove firearms from individuals in crisis.

August 2016

APA Staff Discuss the Intersection of Domestic Violence and Gun Violence

APA senior legislative and federal affairs officer Amalia Corby discussed the potential of federal legislation to impact domestic violence and gun violence at APA’s 2016 Convention in Denver, with Clinton Anderson, PhD, Robert Kinscherff, PhD, Rita Smith, and April Zeoli, PhD. Panelists discussed the intersection of different types of violence and presented an analysis of the impact of state polices on domestic violence and gun violence prevention efforts. The symposium aimed to educate attendees and to present opportunities for engagement in advocacy. This discussion was an extension of APA’s continued efforts to reduce violence using a public health approach.

July 2016

APA Submits Comments on Social Security Administration’s Proposed Firearm Regulations

On July 5, 2016, APA provided comments in a letter (PDF, 159KB) to the Social Security Administration (SSA) on the proposed regulation “Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007” (Docket No. SSA-2016-0011). The regulation is SSA’s response to address a provision in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act requiring inclusion of certain individuals in the system. 

APA voiced concerns with the proposed regulation, noting that it unfairly singles out social security recipients with severe mental illness (SMI). Language included in this proposed regulation, such as “mental defective, subnormal intelligence,” runs the risk of stigmatizing individuals with a mental health diagnosis. Therefore, APA encouraged SSA to revise this language to be more scientific.

April 2016

Coalition of National Health Groups Call for End to Ban on Federal Gun Violence Prevention Research

APA signed on to an April 6, 2016, letter (PDF, 100KB), calling on Congress to end to the effective ban on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gun violence research and fund this lifesaving work. For the past 20 years, language attached to the government's annual spending bills has prevented the CDC from carrying out research that could be perceived as advocating for gun control. This language has had a chilling effect, essentially preventing any public health research in this area. Over 100 public health and medical organizations joined the effort, which coincided with National Public Health Week.

September 2014

APA Applauds Efforts to Bolster Mental Health Systems' Response to Violence

APA sent a Sept. 16, 2014, letter (PDF, 29KB) to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., supporting his efforts to improve the mental health systems' response to violent incidents with his introduction of the Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act (S. 2872). Among many provisions, the bill seeks to support individuals in crisis and to affirm the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out gun violence prevention research. APA maintains a strong commitment to gun violence prevention and violence prevention research. For more information on APA's approach to preventing gun violence, see the 2013 report “Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention and Policy.”

May 2014

APA Applauds Efforts Around Bill to Address Response to Violence and Federal Gun Violence Prevention Research

APA sent a May 28, 2014, letter (PDF, 119KB) to Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., commending their efforts around introduction of the Promoting Healthy Minds for Healthy Communities Act (H.R. 4783). This legislation seeks to improve the law enforcement and mental health system response to violent incidents and to affirm the authority of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out gun violence prevention research. APA consulted with these offices during drafting of the bill and will continue to advocate for sound policies based on the best available science.

May 2014

APA Participates in Press Conference Introducing New Legislation

On May 21, 2014, Clinton Anderson, PhD, associate executive director for APA’s Public Interest Directorate, delivered remarks (PDF, 39KB) at a press conference to introduce federal legislation to fund gun violence prevention research. The bill, a collaboration by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., seeks an additional $10 million each year for six years for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to investigate gun violence prevention and firearm safety. Anderson’s remarks: 

  • Supported the introduction of the bill.
  • Discussed the resolution recently adopted by APA and authored by its Policy Review Task Force on the Prediction and Prevention of Gun Violence.
  • Gave an overview of important gun violence facts in America.
  • Discussed potential public health solutions for the nation’s gun violence epidemic.
December 2013

APA Report on Gun Violence Identifies Precursors and Promising Solutions

There is no single personality profile that can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act — but individual prediction is not necessary for violence prevention, according to a comprehensive report on gun violence, "Gun Violence: Prediction, Prevention and Policy." The report summarizes the psychological research that has helped develop evidence-based programs that can prevent violence through both primary and secondary interventions. Behavioral threat assessment was identified as an effective prevention strategy.

January 2013

APA CEO Invited to White House Event

The White House invited Norman B. Anderson, PhD, then-CEO of APA, to a Jan. 9, 2013, meeting for APA to provide input on violence prevention proposals. Anderson also cited the need to fully implement all the mental health provisions in the Affordable Care Act. “In particular, I emphasized that mental health care should not be ‘optional’ in any health plan, and that psychologists and other behavioral health professionals must be part of all health care teams,” Anderson said. 

Anderson also provided the administration officials with a number of recommendations to prevent gun-related violence and support mental health, including improved access to mental, and behavioral health and substance use services, support for violence prevention research, and community and school-based violence prevention programs.

Every day in the United States, about 30 people die of homicides and 53 persons die of suicides committed by using someone using a gun.

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Amalia Corby
Senior Legislative Affairs Officer, APA Public Interest Government Relations


About APA Advocacy

APA represents the largest and most visible national presence advocating for psychology at the federal level. There are three APA government relations offices and two APA-affiliated organizations that engage in government relations activities. 

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