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Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Leakage, and Social Networks: The Legislative, Behavioral, and Social Contexts Surrounding Mass Public Shooting Incidents and Plots

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $985,776)

This study comprehensively analyzes the efficacy of ERPO laws relative to the prevention of mass public shootings, defined as completed or intended gun violence carried out by aggressors who target (or intend to target) individuals at public locations within a 24-hour period in the U.S. Results of this study will inform modification, implementation, and policy evaluation of current and future ERPO legislation by highlighting (1) the impact of ERPOs on mass public shootings, and (2) the “black box” underlying ERPO laws, including how petitions are initiated (the procedural context of legislation), why they are initiated (stemming from warning or concerning behaviors), and who is authorized to petition (legal and law enforcement professionals, as well as members of the general public).

We will use open-source data to compare the outcomes of mass public shootings and foiled plots as they are impacted by various contexts and procedures related to ERPOs across the U.S. As part of the impact evaluation we will perform, we will collect and code data pertaining to the social network systems that surround mass public shooters and plotters, including the intimacy, contact, and relationships between perpetrators and plotters and their social networks. We will also obtain data describing the warning signs, leakage, and other behaviors of concern exhibited by mass public shooters and plotters prior to their attacks. With these different data, we will uncover what warning signs are displayed by shooters and plotters, what members of social network systems are likely to observe or report various types of warning signs, whether these social network members are authorized ERPO petitioners, and how these factors intersect for a successful versus unsuccessful ERPO petition.

            Our analyses will draw from quantitative and qualitative techniques, including Bayesian methods and autoregressive modeling, social network analysis, and script analysis, to assess the impact of ERPOs on mass public shooting plots and outcomes. As part of a robust and multi-stage dissemination plan, we will curate scholarly publications as well as reports, briefs, and presentations that translate findings for policy, public, and media audiences. Our findings will have relevance for numerous stakeholders, including policymakers, scholars, law enforcement, educators, mental health professionals, and the general public. Study results will illuminate best practices regarding ERPO procedures and provision, highlight the prevalence and characteristics of important warning signs behaviors, and identify individuals within social network systems who are best-positioned to observe and report warning signs through ERPO laws.

Date Created: September 26, 2023