Question: What is community gun violence?

Answer: Community gun violence is violence perpetrated with firearms in community settings, i.e. public places. Sometimes called urban or street violence, this form of violence accounts for the clear majority of homicides in the United States each year.  


Question: What is evidence? What is rigorous evidence?

Answer: The definition of what evidence means often differs depending on context. For the VRC, evidence is information that is generated using accepted scientific methods that are both documentable and replicable. For us, rigorous evidence means evidence that is capable of supporting causal conclusions, i.e. evidence that can tell us whether X policy caused Y outcome. Rigorous evidence often involves the use of experimental or quasi-experimental methods to rule out alternative causal explanations or counterfactuals.  


Question: How is the VRC different from other anti-violence efforts?

Answer: The VRC differs from other efforts in terms of its highly focused approach: it seeks to saves lives by stopping community gun violence, measured in terms of fatal and non-fatal shootings. It also differs in terms of its unusual combination of guiding principles: scientific rigor, real-world relevance, and political and financial independence.   


Question: What does the VRC do?

Answer: The Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction, also known as the VRC, does just what its name says: it studies and practices reducing violence, particularly community gun violence. The VRC gathers rigorous research, summarizes it, and then makes it available in accessible, easy-to-use formats. It also provides practical instruction to federal, state, and especially local leaders on how to choose, apply, and align the right combination of anti-violence strategies for their jurisdictions. 


Question: How can the VRC give away its work for free? How is it funded?

Answer: The VRC is privately funded by philanthropy, with support from the University of Maryland. Due to their generosity, the VRC does not need to charge for its products and services. That said, the VRC’s capacity remains limited – it may not be able to work with everyone who seeks help at the same time. 


Question: How does the VRC choose who to work with? How does it select Practicum jurisdictions?

Answer: The VRC selects participating Practicum jurisdictions based on a combination of need, opportunity, and commitment. First, cities with high rates of community violence are in greater need of the VRC’s services. Next, certain localities at certain times may have a window of opportunity, e.g. a mayoral transition, for making substantial and sustained progress. Finally, jurisdictions demonstrate commitment in part by making their most senior leaders collectively available for the VRC practicum, by showing in advance that they appreciate key practicum principles, and by their indicating their willingness to work collaboratively with one another over a significant period of time.  


Question: What is a systematic review?

Answer: A systematic review uses predetermined and explicit methods to identify, select, appraise, and combine the results from individual studies in a clear, unbiased, and systematic manner. High-quality systematic reviews are widely regarded as providing the highest level of reliability when determining the effectiveness of programmatic interventions. They have grown in popularity as researchers recognize their usefulness for identifying themes and patterns across large numbers of empirical studies and are being employed with increasing frequency in medicine, education, criminal justice, and other fields.  


Question: What is a systematic meta-review?

Answer: A systematic meta-review, or review of reviews, is a systematic review that synthesizes the results of other systematic reviews, rather than individual studies. 


Question: I’d like the VRC to speak to my group. How can I connect with the VRC to make arrangements?

Answer: Having been recently established in November 2022, the VRC has limited capacity for external talks or events, but nevertheless seeks to engage broadly with a diverse array of practitioners, policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders. Please message us at vrcinfo@umd.edu for more.