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.
Large-scale research studies
The Violence Prevention Project Research Center's research work is currently focused on four areas: mass shootings, K-12 school shootings, homicides in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is currently undertaking a national survey of gun violence exposure.
Violence prevention training
The Violence Prevention Project Research Center is grounded in the belief that our research needs to be coupled with action. One of the ways the Center ensures this is by offering accessible training that provides you with the tools to prevent violence in your community.
Violence prevention collaborations
The Center is committed to addressing the complete systems and pathways leading to violence. Our approach goes beyond single solutions as we delve into the underlying factors of violence at individual, institutional, and societal levels. Explore our current collaborations.
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 shootings research
Mass shootings database
The largest, most comprehensive database on the life histories of mass shooters.
190 mass shootings
194 mass shooters
50+ years of data
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.
Studying homicide at K-12 schools and universities
K-12 school shootings database
The Center is currently coding the 329 homicides that occurred on a K-12 school campus over the last 20 years to understand patterns in the data and develop recommendations for prevention. Results are coming soon.
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.
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.
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)
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
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
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.
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.
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.