Gun Violence in America is a UC Berkeley event series that engages the nation’s foremost experts on gun violence in reframing public debate, laying the groundwork for new research and advocacy, and ultimately lessening gun violence in the United States.
The series is sponsored by the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law, Human Rights Program, Henderson Center for Social Justice, School of Public Health, Graduate School of Journalism, and Social Science Matrix, with funding from the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation, California Wellness, California Humanities, and Townsend Center for Humanities.
Addressing the Problem
Gun violence—whether in the form of homicides, suicides, or accidents—kills approximately 30,000 Americans every year and injures 70,000 more. At 31.2 deaths per million people, Americans are almost as likely to die at the end of a gun as they are in a car accident. Despite these statistics, Congress has effectively halted federal funding for gun violence for the past two decades and gun regulation remains lax. Even high-profile mass shootings have failed to spark Congressional action. While the majority of Americans in a recent Pew poll express support for greater gun regulation, political camps are largely entrenched and the public debate is more polarized than ever.
The Gun Violence Series will use a multi-disciplinary lens—public health, journalism, social psychology, law, history, computer science, political science, and public policy—to articulate what more can be done to prevent future gun violence in the United States. Through live-streaming, op-eds, blogging, and social media, the event and film series will reach a national audience and feed into a larger dialogue about gun violence research gaps and the movement for gun safety.
Preventing Gun Violence: What Works and What Stands in the Way
In the culminating event in the Gun Violence in America series, Robin Thomas, executive director of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, spoke in conversation with Buzzfeed science writer and Berkeley J-School lecturer Peter Aldhous. Thomas and Aldhous explored the causes of gun violence as well as deep-seeded misunderstandings in the gun violence debate. They discussed statistics on the rise and fall of homicide and suicide rates, effective policies, and future legislation.
Police and Guns in the Age of Concealed Carry
Police officers have long been sought-after allies for gun control advocates, but a 2017 Pew
Report finds that police favor gun rights over gun control by a 3-1 margin. These poll data might lead many to wonder–wouldn’t permissive gun laws put police at a disadvantage? The University of Arizona’s Jennifer Carlson has conducted extensive interviews with both law enforcement officers and gun owners who practice concealed carry. She breaks down how guns are not only part of the American legal framework, but also deeply embedded within the American character.
Gunfight: Gun Laws Under the Trump Administration
UCLA Law Professor Adam Winkler discusses his acclaimed book Gunfight, which probes four centuries of America’s fixation on the right to bear arms. Winkler argues that guns―not abortion rights, race, or religion―are at the heart of America’s cultural divide. Probing the landmark Heller case, which invalidated a law banning handguns in the nation’s capital, he broke down the fight between gun-rights advocates and gun-control lobbyists. Winkler was introduced by UC Berkeley’s acclaimed gun expert Frank Zimring.
Watch it here:
Urban Gun Violence: Realities and Solutions
Large mass shootings get massive media coverage, but urban communities of color consistently bear the brunt of the vast majority of gun violence with little public attention. According to the CDC, in 2010 African Americans were seven times as likely as whites to die from gun-related homicide. In response, cities like Oakland and Richmond are implementing innovative and controversial solutions. We heard from a frontline community organizer, policy expert, and city official about what’s wrong—and what’s working.
Panelists included: Reverend Ben McBride, Director of Clergy Development, PICO California; Reygan Harmon, Ceasefire Project Manager, City of Oakland, and former Oakland Senior Policy Advisor on Public Safety Mike McLively, Staff Attorney at the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence and Leader, Healing Communities in Crisis initiative Moderated by Savala Trepczynski, Executive Director, Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice, Berkeley Law
Watch it here:
Battle Lines: Who is Framing the Gun Debate?
How do gun rights advocates, and gun violence prevention advocates frame their cases in the media or fail to do so? How has this framing contribute to the partisan divide among voters and legislators that has prevented meaningful federal gun legislation from passing in the last 20 years?
The event featured George Lakoff, linguist, cognitive scientist, and author of books including Don’t Think of an Elephant!; Makani Themba, Chief Strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies and social justice innovator and pioneer in the field of change communications; Lawrence Wallack, former Dean of Portland State University’s School of Public Health and writer/researcher on issues including framing, handguns,and violence
Watch it here:
Firearm Violence: Research and Action
Prof. Magdalena Cerdá and Dr. Garen Wintemute speak as part of the School of Public Health’s Dean’s Speaker Series and the Gun Violence in America event series at Berkeley Law on Sept. 21 (photos by Monica Haulman).
Dr. Garen Wintemute, Director of the Violence Prevention Research Program and Baker-Teret Chair in Violence Prevention at UC Davis, and Professor Magdalena Cerdá, Vice Chancellor’s Chair in Violence Prevention and Assoc. Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis, discussed firearm violence as a health problem, highlighting successful interventions, and suggest possibilities for the future.
Read a Q&A with Dr. Garen Wintemute.