Shotspotter Blog

Reducing Urban City Gun Violence Without Diluting 2A

There is an emerging and seemingly contradictory vision being articulated by critical thinkers focused on gun violence prevention that put forward the idea that we can dramatically improve the safety of the citizens and police who live and work in America’s urban cities, while also protecting the Second Amendment rights for Americans to bear arms.  At ShotSpotter, we believe this vision to be both consistent and achievable, and we advocate for the creation of a national program using real-time gunshot detection to prevent and reduce gun violence.

The program calls for a laser focus on the incredibly small number of people actually responsible for the overwhelming majority of American gun violence (serial-shooters); enhanced prosecutorial tools for violent crime offenses, and better and more robust data sharing and intelligence.

This approach has been proven to work (for example, year-over-year gunfire reductions of 50 percent or more in Denver and Boston). It also avoids political quicksand, with solutions free from partisan objection and pitfalls. We believe it can help realize the collective vision of communities to be free from the scourge of gun violence, without infringement on Second Amendment rights.

Community Impact
A gunshot does not have to injure anyone to have significant negative effects on the community. It is not just gun violence but gunfire itself that is the broadest concern. In addition to its obvious human costs, the societal cost of illegal gunfire extends to economic impact, decreased quality of life, decreased officer safety and increased stress.

In cities across the country, less than 1% of residents are responsible for more than 70% of the gun violence. Worse, the more often gunfire is heard, the less likely are citizens to report it to the police through 911. Gunfire and violence become normalized.

Solution Strategy
The solution to gun violence and gunfire lies in identification of at-risk communities and investment in gunshot detection and location technology, enabling a consistent, concerted, focused, and visible police response to all gunfire incidents. This is crucial to neighborhood cohesion and sense of security.

To maximize the impact of this program, the Administration should consider additional support in the areas of funding prosecutorial training for gun related crimes; better coordination between social services, mental health services, and law enforcement; and better data collaboration between all these stakeholders.

This can also be leveraged by existing efforts to build and expand the National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X), and affording the DOJ the opportunity to integrate networked gunshot detection system technology into a nationwide incident reporting system.

The solution to gun violence and gunfire lies in collaborating with under-served communities and investing in gunshot detection technology which can enable a consistent, concerted, focused, and visible police response to all gunfire incidents. This is crucial to neighborhood cohesion and sense of security. Having access to timely and accurate gunfire data in underserved communities helps to provide a comprehensive framework to better understand which neighborhoods in the country need the most help with respect to gun violence so that change and focus can occur.

The vision of freeing communities from the scourge of gun violence without infringement on Second Amendment rights is possible. Our neighborhoods can be safer if we invest and partner in available technology, staffing, and policies and procedures that will enable law enforcement to respond appropriately whenever a gun is fired in addition to gaining a more comprehensive understanding of which communities are most affected by gunfire.

March 22, 2017