Violence Prevention Project Research Center

Dr. Jillian Peterson and Dr. James Densley, of Hamline University's Violence Prevention Project Research Center

Transforming data into insight, empowering action

Hamline University’s Violence Prevention Project Research Center is dedicated to reducing violence through research that is both accessible and geared toward action. The Center is committed to generating knowledge to enlighten and empower the public, guide practitioners, and drive informed policy decisions.

Join us in our mission to foster understanding and work toward a safer future for all. 

About the Center's research

The study of the life histories of mass shooters, first funded by the National Institute of Justice, received awards, acclaim, and global media attention. The K-12 School Shooting Database is a go-to resource for journalists, researchers, and policymakers. The Center is also currently engaged in a study of the changing nature of homicide in the Twin Cities and a national survey of gun violence exposure.

The Center's student researchers

Student researchers are vital to the Center's research. Undergraduate students from various majors work as a team and collaborate to conduct daily and weekly research to keep the Center's databases updated in real-time.

Learn more about our student researchers

Mass shooting research key findings

The last decade has been the deadliest

Half of the 36 deadliest mass shootings in the last 120 years occurred in the previous decade.

Increase in shootings motivated by hate and fame-seeking  

Mass shooters have many grievances, but shootings motivated by hate and fame-seeking have increased since 2015.

80% of mass shooters in noticeable crisis before crimes

Many mass public shooters were suicidal. With 80% of them in a noticeable crisis prior to committing their crimes.

Jillian Peterson TED Talk Video

How to Prevent School Shootings

It's been nearly 25 years since the Columbine High School shooting, and schools today are no safer. Based on research into the life histories of over 150 mass shooters, Dr. Jillian Peterson explains why our current school safety strategies, like lockdown drills and security, have failed and uses data to suggest new strategies to prevent mass shootings. (May 8, 2019)

Additional research projects

National survey on gun violence exposure

The Center is currently conducting a large national survey (more than 10,000 people) measuring exposure to all forms of gun violence, including mass shootings, community homicides, domestic homicides, and suicide. The survey will also measure attitudes around safe storage of firearms and school safety, focusing on how to change attitudes and behaviors.

Join our monthly webinar series where we'll share some of our initial findings on the survey.

Explore Monthly webinar series




Twin Cities homicides research

With funding from the Joyce Foundation, the Center studies the changing nature of homicide in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. This project involves analysis of local crime data, police ride-alongs, and interviews with homicide offenders and key stakeholders.

Twin Cities homicides database

Dr. James Densley of Violence Prevention Project Research Center, Hamline University, giving Ted Talk

Violence in the Age of Social Media

When all the world’s a stage, mass shooters, terrorists, and hate groups perform violent acts for the notoriety that they bring. Technology has created an economy of consumers, producers, and distributors of violent victimization. Dr. James Densley explores the proliferation of violent content across the internet and the tools we can all use to minimize our exposure and subscription to viral violence. (May 8, 2019)

Center collaborations

Saint Paul Public Schools logo

Saint Paul Public Schools CARE team launch 

In collaboration with the Saint Paul Public Schools, the Center is launching a new interdisciplinary CARE Team (Crisis Assessment, Response, Evaluation) at the district level spring 2024 that will identify students in crisis and at risk of violence, connect them with needed resources, and continuously follow-up on their progress. Next fall, these teams will be moved into schools across the district and evaluated for effectiveness. The goal is to develop a softer, more holistic, and compassionate threat assessment model that avoids negatively labeling students and successfully prevents violence.

Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) Collaboration


Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) exterior

The Center has begun a new collaboration with the HCMC hospital system to better understand community gun violence. With this unique partnership, we will construct an Integrated Firearm Violence Impact Database (IFVID), which will merge diverse data sets for multi-dimensional analysis. We will compile and synchronize clinical trauma registry data, homicide data from The Violence Prevention Project, and community census data. This will allow us to examine the relationship between socioeconomic indicators and the likelihood of firearm violence occurrences. We will also integrate socio-economic factors, community variables, and participation in violence prevention programs, allowing for a multi-faceted understanding of each case. We will use narrative-based research methodologies to document survivors’ journeys, particularly emphasizing psychological impacts and resilience.


ERPO implementation (OJP SCIP Advisory Board)

The Violence Prevention Project Research Center's Executive Director, Dr. Jillian Peterson, was recently appointed to the Office of Justice Programs SCIP advisory board to help implement policies and funding priorities from the federal Bipartisan Gun Safety Act. This team meets monthly and will strategize how to fund and execute Extreme Risk Protection Orders, crisis response teams, and program-solving courts across the state. The Center is positioned to help collect data and evaluate these new policies as they are developed.

Violence prevention resources

Off-Ramp Project
Get Data

The Violence Project and other publications

Get more information about The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic, authored by Hamline University's Jillian Peterson, PhD, professor of criminology and criminal justice, director of the forensic psychology program, and director of the Violence Prevention Project Resource Center and James Densley, PhD, professor and department chair of criminology and criminal justice at Metro State University.

And explore other resources, including peer-reviewed publications, essays, and op-eds. 


cover of The Violence Project, by Dr. Jillian Peterson and Dr. James Densley

The Off-Ramp Project: Information, training, and resources for holistic violence prevention

The Off-Ramp Project provides training on school and workplace violence prevention, a comprehensive list of resources, and the R-Model™, an innovative violence prevention protocol designed specifically for K-12 schools.

What is holistic violence prevention?

Holistic violence prevention addresses the complete systems of pathways and precursors to violence. Rather than focusing on a single solution, holistic prevention examines and responds to the root causes of violence at the individual, institutional, and societal level.

Get the mass shooter database

To download the entire mass shooter database in Excel, please complete the request form.

Request database


How to support the Violence Prevention Project Research Center

The Violence Project’s commitment to rigorous research and real-world application stands unmatched. Still, the scale of our ambition for data-driven gun violence prevention demands the alliance of generous funders and partners. We are sincerely grateful for the support provided by:

  • The National Institute of Justice
  • The Joyce Foundation
  • Minnesota Office of Justice Programs

Your dedicated and continued support will not only maintain these efforts but will also allow us to deepen our research and develop new projects. By joining forces with The Violence Project, you are not just funding research, but investing in a future where schools, workplaces, and communities can thrive. Together, we can construct a legacy of safety and understanding for future generations.



Contact information