Research Reports

Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence: Recommendations to Advance Policy, Practice and Research



Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence - 2022

This report contains the latest work of a unique group of experts convened by the Joyce Foundation beginning in 2019 under the banner “Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence.” The group includes advocates, prosecutors and defense attorneys, policy experts, researchers, violence intervention practitioners, and members of law enforcement, all experts in their fields who have come together as a community of practice to address some of the hardest questions facing our communities in 2022: how to reduce the devastating toll of gun violence experienced in many U.S. cities; how to limit the proliferation of guns - many owned illegally - in those same communities; how to do so without further undermining the relationship between police and communities of color; and how to do so without contributing to the over-incarceration of men and boys of color.

Following a series of virtual meetings in 2020 and 2021, the members of the community of practice arrived at this set of consensus recommendations for policy, research and practice, all in furtherance of the group’s shared goals of reducing the harms caused by guns, and reducing the harms caused by punitive law enforcement responses to gun violence.

For more information about this report or the group of experts that came together to develop this document, please contact Quintin Williams with the Joyce Foundation at [email protected].

Recommendations Part I: Expand Community-Based Interventions

RECOMMENDATIONS Part I: Expand Community-Based Interventions

A. Increase public investment in community violence intervention and improve coordination of funds for community-based programs.

B. Continue to increase professionalization of the field of community violence intervention and prevention.

C. Treat community violence intervention as a public health intervention.

D. Create or expand citywide offices of violence prevention.

E. Improve economic mobility, access to safe and affordable housing, and access to healthcare for returning residents through increased collaboration between community violence intervention and reentry stakeholders.

Recommendations Part II: Emphasize Supply Side Solutions to Gun Violence

RECOMMENDATIONS Part II: Emphasize Supply Side Solutions to Gun Violence

A. Institute licensing for handgun purchasers.

B. Strengthen federal and state policies to enhance gun seller accountability to reduce gun violence.

C. Regulate privately-made firearms and require microstamping technology.

D. Assess equity implications of proposed firearm policies.

Recommendations Part III: Refocus the Law Enforcement Response to Illegal Gun Possession

RECOMMENDATIONS Part III: Refocus the Law Enforcement Response to Illegal Gun Possession

A. Increase investment in communities that are heavily affected by gun violence to develop their capacity to respond effectively.

B. Refocus policing tactics relating to gun possession toward high-risk people and places, and away from harmful approaches that undermine constitutional protections, trust and legitimacy.

C. Study and expand diversion options for non-violent illegal gun possession.

D. End the use of mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent, illegalfirearm possession and move toward individualized sentencing that avoids custodial sanctions where appropriate.

Additional Background

Building Toward a Fair and Just Response to Gun Violence - 2019

In August 2019, the Joyce Foundation convened a group of the nation’s leading experts in gun policy, violence prevention, and criminal justice reform to explore the intersection of these fields of study and practice. The Foundation was motivated by a growing sense that researchers, practitioners and advocates in these fields worked largely in siloes, focused on discrete objectives centered around: (a) reducing access to guns through stronger gun policies; (b) expanding community-based violence interventions; or (c) reducing racial disparities in our criminal legal system, including arrests and incarceration. Our work divulged that these goals were often overlapping and aligned, pointing toward solutions with a strong evidence base and broad agreement among our experts. At other times we unearthed areas of where the goals seemed to diverge. By bringing these leaders together, we hoped to encourage shared learning, identification of common interests, and a cooperative approach to exploring and working through areas of disagreement.

Our first gathering, at the West Creek Ranch in Montana in 2019, was described by many participants as transformative in building new collaborations around shared goals, namely reducing the harms caused by guns, and reducing the harms caused by punitive law enforcement responses to gun violence. We created space to understand the difficult tensions that can exist between reducing gun violence and reducing arrests and incarceration, while setting a course for ongoing learning with the goal of developing a common agenda that would move communities closer to a fair and just response to gun violence.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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