A Scientific Approach to Mass Shooting Prevention

BALTIMORE, MD, June 10, 2022 – New audio is available for media use featuring Gerald Evans, Professor Emeritus in the School of Engineering at the University of Louisville. He talks about how operations research and analytics approaches can lead to mass shooting prevention. This content is made available by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. All sound should be attributed to Gerald Evans. There are 4 questions and responses. These responses were provided on June 8, 2022.



Question 1: From a scientific perspective, what are the biggest challenges to mass shooting prevention? 

Time Cue: 0:22, Soundbite Duration: :48 

“The biggest challenges to the prevention of mass shootings include, first, the elimination of partisan politics in the discussion leading up to the development of new laws, policies, and procedures and, second, the development of accurate models to forecast (or predict) the effects of new laws, policies, and procedures for addressing the problem. The models would be of two basic types: first, large-scale, national (or state) models which would consider the effects of new gun control laws, red flag laws (along with stated consequences for their abuse), universal background checks, additional mental health resources, etc.; and second, smaller scale models to consider procedures to be followed at a particular location (school, store, or park where people gather) once a shooter (or shooters) enter an area.”



Question 2: When developing long-term plans for the prevention of mass shootings, what are the major factors and variables that must be considered?

Time Cue: 01:18, Soundbite Duration: 0:25

”The major factors that must be considered include attitudes towards guns, gun violence, mental health, and criminal justice. Variables that should be considered are the same which should be considered in developing the accurate models referred to earlier. These would include demographic information for the population related to age, sex, family makeup, and wealth; number of guns in existence by type; number and locations of potential shooters, etc.”



Question 3: What is a realistic strategy for reducing the number of mass shootings?

Time Cue: 01:55, Soundbite Duration: :45

“A realistic strategy would involve first the development of trust between the various factions of the political spectrum. This would begin with urging politicians to eliminate divisive, and often untrue, rhetoric from their discussions. Then, a comprehensive approach which involves the enactment of constitutional gun control laws and red flag laws, background checks for gun purchasers, increased funding for mental health, the development of appropriate security measures for public facilities and especially schools, training for teachers to identify students at risk for becoming mass shooters. As noted by Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois, the use of a variety of approaches allows for the concept of ‘layering’; this layering results in the identification of potential mass shooters through multiple potential schemes.”



Question 4: What should governments, police departments and school districts do now to prevent mass shootings? 

Time Cue: 02:50, Soundbite Duration: :50

“Governments can enact new gun control laws and red flag laws and provide funding for mental health facilities. Police departments can develop and enact training programs which consider a variety of contingencies in the case of a mass shooting event; on a larger scale, criminal justice systems in general can enact appropriate policies for bail so that potentially dangerous people would not be released into the public. School districts can develop measures for improving school security; these measures would include decreasing the number of entry/exit points, hiring of armed security guards, appropriate training of staff and teachers as to 1) appropriate procedures to follow in the event of a breach of security, and 2) recognition of behavior that would be representative of potentially dangerous students.”

A Scientific Approach to Mass Shooting Prevention

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