About the Gun Violence Solutions Project

The UVA Gun Violence Solutions Project (GVSP) is a university-wide effort to develop, implement, and assess actionable solutions to reduce gun violence. The project is taking a holistic approach, beginning with developing and applying solutions at a local level in the Charlottesville region, while also exploring law and policy and the history and cultural factors that shape gun violence.

Localities like Charlottesville, with populations of less than 250,000, have traditionally received less attention in gun violence research and prevention.  We believe that the GVSP’s focus on localities of this size provides an opportunity for real change because

  • Smaller localities may have data on gun violence and other contributing factors that is not available nationally or at the state level; and
  • It may be easier to find willing partners and to build consensus in smaller localities;
  • It is easier to implement and assess interventions at a smaller scale.

The solutions developed in Charlottesville have the potential to be widely shared with other localities of similar size across Virginia and the nation.  This work may suggest ways for state and federal governments to help support regional approaches to gun violence solutions and to shape a national conversation on local solutions.

The project brings together UVA faculty, researchers, and students with community members and practitioners around three goals:

1) Local Solutions for Charlottesville/Albemarle

Collaborating with partners in the Charlottesville and Albemarle County community, and guided by the report of the Community Safety Working Group, the GVSP will

  • Support local agencies and partners in sharing and using data to help mitigate gun violence. Community partners, including the school systems and police, are willing to share data with each other but do not currently have a mechanism or the resources to do so. The GVSP is providing support, infrastructure, and expertise to help coordinate and establish mechanisms for data sharing among local agencies and researchers, as well as analytical assistance to use that data to develop and assess solutions. This work will be coordinated through the Equity Center.
  • Faculty and students in the School of Law’s State and Local Government Policy Clinic serve local officials and community organizations by developing and implementing plans to prevent and mitigate gun violence in Charlottesville and Albemarle. The Batten School will launch a policy clinic this fall so that Batten students can further support and collaborate on this important work.
  • The Equity Center is partnering with Charlottesville City Council, City of Promise, UVA’s Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, and the Presidential Precinct to build upon an existing Youth Council program for middle school and high school students. Participants will be trained and mentored by educators and UVA students who will support them as they identify specific community needs around gun violence that they can act on.

    2) Exploring Solutions: Research and Education

  • With support from the GVSP, UVA faculty are developing and offering new undergraduate and graduate courses on the issue of gun violence, on topics ranging from culture and history to policy and practice.  In the 2024-25 academic year, the Batten School will offer a signature course for students across Grounds to explore many aspects of gun violence, including law and policy at the local, state, and national levels, as well as cultural and historical issues.
  • A pan-University faculty working group led by the Karsh Institute of Democracy brings together faculty who work on issues related to gun violence from all parts of the University, including Arts & Sciences, the Batten School, and the schools of Nursing, Law, and Medicine. They are developing research collaborations and interventions through a Spring 2024 workshop series for faculty and external experts. They have also funded nine projects across Grounds through a seed grants program for student and faculty research and activities. This work allows us to take a broader approach to the problem by exploring historical and cultural issues from a wide range of perspectives.

    3) Sharing Solutions

  • As the GSVP develops and assesses the interventions in the local area, a key part of its work will be to find ways to share those learnings directly with other localities and with policymakers, as well as through more traditional scholarly channels.
  • Beginning in July 2024, the GVSP will host its first fellow, journalist James Burnett, who is the founding editor and managing director of The Trace, a non-profit news organization that covers issues of gun violence across the United States. The fellowship will allow for Burnett’s participation in a range of UVA programming and will facilitate reporting focused on solutions to gun violence, including those that are being tried in smaller localities across the country, like Charlottesville.

The GVSP at UVA is a collaboration among the President, the Provost’s office, the School of Law, the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, the Equity Center, the Karsh Institute of Democracy, and community partners.