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Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic

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An examination of the phenomenon of mass shootings in America and an urgent call to implement evidence-based strategies to stop these tragedies   Using data from the writers’ groundbreaking research on mass shooters, including first-person accounts from the perpetrators themselves, The Violence Project charts new pathways to prevention and innovative ways to stop the socia An examination of the phenomenon of mass shootings in America and an urgent call to implement evidence-based strategies to stop these tragedies   Using data from the writers’ groundbreaking research on mass shooters, including first-person accounts from the perpetrators themselves, The Violence Project charts new pathways to prevention and innovative ways to stop the social contagion of violence. Frustrated by reactionary policy conversations that never seemed to convert into meaningful action, special investigator and psychologist Jill Peterson and sociologist James Densley built The Violence Project, the first comprehensive database of mass shooters. Their goal was to establish the root causes of mass shootings and figure out how to stop them by examining hundreds of data points in the life histories of more than 170 mass shooters—from their childhood and adolescence to their mental health and motives. They’ve also interviewed the living perpetrators of mass shootings and people who knew them, shooting survivors, victims’ families, first responders, and leading experts to gain a comprehensive firsthand understanding of the real stories behind them, rather than the sensationalized media narratives that too often prevail. For the first time, instead of offering thoughts and prayers for the victims of these crimes, Peterson and Densley share their data-driven solutions for exactly what we must do, at the individual level, in our communities, and as a country, to put an end to these tragedies that have defined our modern era.


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An examination of the phenomenon of mass shootings in America and an urgent call to implement evidence-based strategies to stop these tragedies   Using data from the writers’ groundbreaking research on mass shooters, including first-person accounts from the perpetrators themselves, The Violence Project charts new pathways to prevention and innovative ways to stop the socia An examination of the phenomenon of mass shootings in America and an urgent call to implement evidence-based strategies to stop these tragedies   Using data from the writers’ groundbreaking research on mass shooters, including first-person accounts from the perpetrators themselves, The Violence Project charts new pathways to prevention and innovative ways to stop the social contagion of violence. Frustrated by reactionary policy conversations that never seemed to convert into meaningful action, special investigator and psychologist Jill Peterson and sociologist James Densley built The Violence Project, the first comprehensive database of mass shooters. Their goal was to establish the root causes of mass shootings and figure out how to stop them by examining hundreds of data points in the life histories of more than 170 mass shooters—from their childhood and adolescence to their mental health and motives. They’ve also interviewed the living perpetrators of mass shootings and people who knew them, shooting survivors, victims’ families, first responders, and leading experts to gain a comprehensive firsthand understanding of the real stories behind them, rather than the sensationalized media narratives that too often prevail. For the first time, instead of offering thoughts and prayers for the victims of these crimes, Peterson and Densley share their data-driven solutions for exactly what we must do, at the individual level, in our communities, and as a country, to put an end to these tragedies that have defined our modern era.

30 review for Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic

  1. 5 out of 5

    Darya Silman

    'The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic' is not an entertaining read on a cozy couch after a hard workday. Started as psychological research by Jillian Peterson and James Densley in 2018, it grew into a unique research center that contains the one and only whole database of American mass shooters till the present day. Travels and interviews across America enabled the researchers to collect stories from perpetrators and survivors, victims' families, and law enforcement workers 'The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic' is not an entertaining read on a cozy couch after a hard workday. Started as psychological research by Jillian Peterson and James Densley in 2018, it grew into a unique research center that contains the one and only whole database of American mass shooters till the present day. Travels and interviews across America enabled the researchers to collect stories from perpetrators and survivors, victims' families, and law enforcement workers. Stories, in their turn, were analyzed from the mathematical and statistical viewpoints, explaining the origins of mass violence and creating a pathway to solutions on multiple levels: individual, institutional, and societal. To learn more, please visit the project's website www.theviolenceproject.org or Twitter/Instagram accounts @theviolencepro The database is free for download and substantive analysis. The site also contains downloadable protocols for building a crisis team at a workplace and a list of organizations that dedicate themselves to preventing mass violence. The book is a summary of a three-year research. Chapter by chapter, the researchers debunk myths, created by social and mass media. Monsters, as they are conventionally called, are not born overnight but had been shaped during a long period of time by causes inside and outside their families. People around them might have sensed that something bad was about to happen, yet they didn’t possess techniques to avoid the disaster. The perpetrators needed guidance, yet they were not able to reach the resources that could provide help. Despite the growing numbers of victims of mass shootings, the researchers see the light at the end of the tunnel. It's a hope that through their findings, people would be able to prevent mass violence using kindness instead of prosecution and isolation. I'd recommend the book (and the website) for people who would like to learn about the psychological causes of violence. However, due to the mathematical approach, a mass reader could find himself/herself struggling with reading.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Richard Propes

    There's really no question that I am the desired market for Jillian Peterson and James Densley's engaging and informative "The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic." "The Violence Project" is borne out of the frustration both Peterson and Densley felt over the reactionary policies and actions often birthed out of yet another mass shooting. These policies and actions never really were converted into meaningful action and, of course, inevitably we would be having the same discuss There's really no question that I am the desired market for Jillian Peterson and James Densley's engaging and informative "The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic." "The Violence Project" is borne out of the frustration both Peterson and Densley felt over the reactionary policies and actions often birthed out of yet another mass shooting. These policies and actions never really were converted into meaningful action and, of course, inevitably we would be having the same discussions after the next mass shooting. As a book, "The Violence Project" is a refreshingly engaging and well-informed journey toward charting new pathways to prevention and innovative ways to stop the contagion of violence. Peterson is a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Hamline University. She has led large-scale studies on mental illness and crime, school shootings, and mass violence. Densley is a professor of criminal justice at Metropolitan State University who is known for his international work on gangs, criminal networks, violent extremism, and policing. Together, they created The Violence Project. The Violence Project is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center known worldwide for its work on mass shooting prevention. This points, perhaps, to the reason that "The Violence Project" reads so beautifully yet powerfully. While it is not what I'd call apolitical, it is unquestionably nonpartisan. There is a tendency in even the best books around the subject of violence to end up taking sides. Perhaps because they are researchers, Peterson and Densley instead focus squarely on the issue itself and avoid the taking of sides. In fact, many of the ideas and solutions presented in "The Violence Project" are surprisingly devoid of political angles or preachiness. In place of partisanship, Peterson and Densley infuse "The Violence Project" with research, interviews with perpetrators themselves (many of whom were surprisingly cooperative with the research), and extensive studies regarding the impact of certain preventative measures. In many ways, I was delighted by how incredibly matter-of-fact is the writing in "The Violence Project." At times, I could picture Peterson and Densley before me with this look of "No, really. This works and we can prove it." It's not often that I read a book about violence or gun violence or mass shootings and end up feeling empowered, but such is the case here. I felt empowered after reading "The Violence Project." I've spent a good majority of my life as an activist in the area of violence prevention having started out in the area of child abuse prevention before broadening into domestic violence and having a strong focus on violence involving children. The rhetoric is hot and heavy - especially if one brings in issues such as gun law reform. "The Violence Project" is well-researched and it's also accessible in terms of its language and literary style. As a project, The Violence Project is the first comprehensive database of mass shooters. The project has moved Peterson and Densley closer toward their vision of establishing the root causes of mass shootings and figuring out how to stop them by examining the data points in the lives of perpetrators. In "The Violence Project," they interview perpetrators, those who knew/know the perpetrators, victims' families, first responders, and recognized experts to gain an understanding of the real stories underneath the sensationalized media. Rather than "thoughts and prayers," Peterson and Densley have come up with data-driven solutions. Both intellectually challenging and emotionally resonant, "The Violence Project" is a mandatory read for those concerned about the cycle of violence, and in this case mass shootings, and those who consider them to be inevitable. Mass shootings are not inevitable. Peterson and Densley have proven it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jen Juenke

    Let me first start off saying that I am horrified that we need a book on how to end gun violence/mass shootings. On the other hand FINALLY there is a book on mass shootings and what can be done about them. This book is so emotional, clinical, and very thorough. My hometown is Bemidji, MN.......my best friend lives on the Red Lake Reservation. Her mom was a teacher at the time of the Red Lake shooting. The chaos, the fear, the anxiety of waiting for word to see if my friends survived was enormous. Let me first start off saying that I am horrified that we need a book on how to end gun violence/mass shootings. On the other hand FINALLY there is a book on mass shootings and what can be done about them. This book is so emotional, clinical, and very thorough. My hometown is Bemidji, MN.......my best friend lives on the Red Lake Reservation. Her mom was a teacher at the time of the Red Lake shooting. The chaos, the fear, the anxiety of waiting for word to see if my friends survived was enormous. I felt this book like a punch in the gut. The greatest thing that this book does is say THERE IS HOPE to end mass shootings. WE ALL NEED TO WORK to end them. I love that the book says we can always do more. We can start engaging with each other again. We gain really focus on mental illness and VOTE to enhance and get more mental health services, we can do more for gun laws. This book is a MUST Read for everyone in society. The one part of the book that will stay with me, is when the authors talked about hard targets and designing schools with more curves to prevent straight line of sight. The authors counter.....the school mass shooter will go to that school, will know the drills, they are part of the school. I had never thought of it like that. Thank you to the publisher and to netgalley for allowing me this ARC for this honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marie

    Mass shootings have risen form 8 lives per year in the 1970's to over 51 deaths a year today. More than 1200 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States since 1966. Some school children now affix a sticker to their IUD or cell phone that states, IN THE EVENT THAT I DIE FROM GUN VIOLENCE, PLEASE PUBLICISE THE PHOTO OF MY DEATH. Since 2006, Americans have acquired an estimated 150 million new or imported firearms on top of the 250 million guns already in circulation. America is one Mass shootings have risen form 8 lives per year in the 1970's to over 51 deaths a year today. More than 1200 people have been killed in mass shootings in the United States since 1966. Some school children now affix a sticker to their IUD or cell phone that states, IN THE EVENT THAT I DIE FROM GUN VIOLENCE, PLEASE PUBLICISE THE PHOTO OF MY DEATH. Since 2006, Americans have acquired an estimated 150 million new or imported firearms on top of the 250 million guns already in circulation. America is one of the few countries (including Mexico, Haiti and Guatemala) where the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected. Mass shootings are linked to suicides and may even be a form of them. One in three mass shooters are actively suicidal prior to the shootings and 40% specifically plan to die in the attack. Deaths of despair have increased in nearly every age group over the last decade but the increase has been especially pronounced for Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996). 52% are White. Most Black shootings are in the workplace. 70% of shooters experienced childhood trauma (death of a parent or abused by their father), raised by a single parent and bullied in school and their shootings occurred at schools, universities or places of worship. 80% of all mass shooters were in a state of crisis (increased agitation, abusive behavior or isolation) prior to committing the shooting. Half of all shooters had been reprimanded, suspended or fired from work shortly before the shooting. 60% have a mental health history. 65% leak their plans for the attack in person. (22% to strangers, 18% to coworkers, 18% to partner, 11% to friend/neighbor) 56% used handguns. 21% use assault rifles 63% purchased legally 30% within a month of the shooting The Swiss government have a national gun database and registration is required immediately at purchase.

  5. 5 out of 5

    C

    Thank you Goodreads Giveaways and Abrams Press for this hardcover copy of the Cycle of Violence and how this book offers a road map to end the violence cause and effect without all that fake news and perpetrator socialization. Special investigator Jillian Peterson and sociologist James Densley do a fantastic job of putting together statistics/rankings, studies, percentages, and histories to make this book- The Violence Project: How to stop a mass shooting epidemic. The Authors started studying an Thank you Goodreads Giveaways and Abrams Press for this hardcover copy of the Cycle of Violence and how this book offers a road map to end the violence cause and effect without all that fake news and perpetrator socialization. Special investigator Jillian Peterson and sociologist James Densley do a fantastic job of putting together statistics/rankings, studies, percentages, and histories to make this book- The Violence Project: How to stop a mass shooting epidemic. The Authors started studying and interviewing (real stories) of mass shootings four years ago (professors, researchers, etc. they wanted to learn more about mass shootings to learn each side of the story and why it was occurring over and over. They even wrote letters to the perpetrators that are still alive to see what they were thinking and feeling. I always thought Camden, NJ had the first mass shooting but the first one was actually in 1903. I took a lot of notes reading this book and it took me a few days. In 2019 it seems like everyday my tv show was interrupted by breaking news until covid was all TV. Then you learn here that 2017, 2018, and 2019 were the worst years ever for mass shootings. During my days in school it never ever crossed my mind that someone would come in to start shooting. To think now how these kids have to be sitting on the edge of their chairs not knowing if it would happen because it's all they know. How did these kids have the courage to go to school every day? Could it be their last? I mean it's school. This book talks about all the publicity the perpetrators get from the breaking news, how they are turned into true crime/movies, how politics are involved. How schools have been updated with high tech security/rehearsing drills. Where can you go during a shooting? About how mass shootings have been in just about every place we go in our lives. Do criminal background stories or video games lead to violence? How people need to learn how to cope with abuse, bullying, rage, violence, and not by pulling out a gun. And much much more. This is a very interesting book. I do recommend it. I commend the Authors on making it a worthwhile read, all their hard work. This book is available September 17, 2021

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This book was very... heavy but informative. The writing was great how it combined the emotions of the situations along with clinical data. The data was the most interesting part. A lot of what we generally know about mass shooters proves to be true or mostly true by their research compilation like male, mental issues, not receiving help, etc. but this book really dives into all the bottom common denominators mass shooters tend to have. Those four variables that most have: childhood trauma, idea This book was very... heavy but informative. The writing was great how it combined the emotions of the situations along with clinical data. The data was the most interesting part. A lot of what we generally know about mass shooters proves to be true or mostly true by their research compilation like male, mental issues, not receiving help, etc. but this book really dives into all the bottom common denominators mass shooters tend to have. Those four variables that most have: childhood trauma, ideation of previous shooters, access to guns and a crisis event in their lives. The following chapters dive into each one of these much deeper, along with talking to still-alive perps. That was fascinating but I admit I wanted to know more about their experiences during the events, but that wasn't the point of the research. Actually, they handled the No Notoriety clause beautifully by never naming any of the shooters. What this book excels at the most is paving a roadmap and giving concrete answers on exactly how to help. There's even a summary chart at the end on how someone can really make an impact to troubled kids. A lot of preventative measures lean towards schools having networks of communication about troubled kids and mental health programs pushing for just a single adult to care about said troubled kid. A trusted relationship is a very high deterrent to them becoming mass shooters. It's unfortunate this book even exists but also it's a good thing it does. Thanks to NetGalley who has given me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jess Rodgers

    The Violence Project started as psychological research project by Jillian Peterson and James Densley in 2018. It grew into a unique research center that contains the only whole database of American mass shooters to present day. Peterson and Densley wrote to prisoners incarcerated for mass shootings, talked to their family members, and survivors and victim's families. This book was incredibly informative and an easy read for such a tough topic. I loved how the authors tackled the perpetrators’ th The Violence Project started as psychological research project by Jillian Peterson and James Densley in 2018. It grew into a unique research center that contains the only whole database of American mass shooters to present day. Peterson and Densley wrote to prisoners incarcerated for mass shootings, talked to their family members, and survivors and victim's families. This book was incredibly informative and an easy read for such a tough topic. I loved how the authors tackled the perpetrators’ thoughts while not naming them in light of the No Notoriety movement. The authors bring to light simple, evidence-based things any civilian can do to stop a mass shooting- encourage people to use basic gun safety, such as locking guns away; if you see something say something; and be there to cushion the impact of trauma. This is a must read for anyone in education, law enforcement, or... basically anyone who is a human and cares about the people around them or humanity as a whole. I learned so much reading this book. My only criticism is I wish we had heard more from the living perpetrators, just to see what they had to say about their own actions.

  8. 5 out of 5

    LilyRose

    The Violence Project by Jillian Peterson and James Densley is an essential and groundbreaking work of nonfiction. The book investigates the phenomenon of mass shootings in America and presents evidence based research and findings on how to prevent such tragedies. The book presents data and research on the social, political and historical nature of the shootings and features first person anonymous accounts from the shooters themselves. The Violence Project endeavours to find new ways to prevent a The Violence Project by Jillian Peterson and James Densley is an essential and groundbreaking work of nonfiction. The book investigates the phenomenon of mass shootings in America and presents evidence based research and findings on how to prevent such tragedies. The book presents data and research on the social, political and historical nature of the shootings and features first person anonymous accounts from the shooters themselves. The Violence Project endeavours to find new ways to prevent and protect society from such violence and it’s catastrophic impact by creating a database of the shooters and the conditions which caused and enabled them to inflict such deadly violence. It is a comprehensive, hard hitting book which outlines the key issues and solutions to stopping such tragedies as individuals and communities. 4 stars ⭐️ Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this book in exchange for honest feedback.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laurann

    This book is a difficult read but an important one. I think it is imperative to understand the violence that has taken hold in the United States and beyond. The authors take an in-depth look at what makes people turn to violence. They use data from past events to try to figure out how we can work to spot the warning signs and possibly turn the tides earlier in the lives of these troubled individuals. I appreciate that they do not name the killers. They interview people from all areas of these tr This book is a difficult read but an important one. I think it is imperative to understand the violence that has taken hold in the United States and beyond. The authors take an in-depth look at what makes people turn to violence. They use data from past events to try to figure out how we can work to spot the warning signs and possibly turn the tides earlier in the lives of these troubled individuals. I appreciate that they do not name the killers. They interview people from all areas of these tragedies including some of the perpetrators. This book took me a while to read. I needed to take breaks and read other books for a bit. But the information in this book is important. It is a problem that we all need to recognize and work toward figuring out a solution for. I am glad I read it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    An incredibly important book. It has been hard to get through strictly because of how painful a topic mass shootings and gun violence can be. Despite the painfully honest descriptions of the state of mass shootings in the nation, this book is a must read for anyone with any sense. Anyone from gun enthusiasts to the most ardent anti-gun protesters need to read this book and really look at what has been happening, and what will continue to happen, if measures aren't taken to quell the epidemic of An incredibly important book. It has been hard to get through strictly because of how painful a topic mass shootings and gun violence can be. Despite the painfully honest descriptions of the state of mass shootings in the nation, this book is a must read for anyone with any sense. Anyone from gun enthusiasts to the most ardent anti-gun protesters need to read this book and really look at what has been happening, and what will continue to happen, if measures aren't taken to quell the epidemic of mass shootings in America. Regardless of color, creed, politics, or any other identifier, this book is a must read for anyone with a heart and a brain.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Celia Kim

    The book explores a wide gamut of topics in helping its readers see what make someone decide to be a shooter, but tbh 1/3 of the research could have been cut without taking from the book's essence. Too many times, there were moments where I had to stop and ask myself -- why is this paragraph here? Why was this anecdote included? I found myself able to breeze through pages in some chapters because the point had already been made early on. Despite my structural complaints of this book, the informat The book explores a wide gamut of topics in helping its readers see what make someone decide to be a shooter, but tbh 1/3 of the research could have been cut without taking from the book's essence. Too many times, there were moments where I had to stop and ask myself -- why is this paragraph here? Why was this anecdote included? I found myself able to breeze through pages in some chapters because the point had already been made early on. Despite my structural complaints of this book, the information it offers is worth knowing. It just depends on what type of prior knowledge you have (trauma, history of shootings in America, etc.) when going in to read it.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Justkeepreading85

    I found this to be a very interesting read. I don’t think it would be a good read for those looking for the full cases as they are not gone over in the book. All shooters name are absent following the No Notoriety movement which for me makes it hard to keep all the cases separate but I understand why it’s necessary. I thought this was a good read for the interested in mass shootings and what we can do to prevent further tragedies.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vnunez-Ms_luv2read

    This should be a must read for all. Very well presented and very informative. Full of information. Intriguing read. Highly recommended. Thanks to Net galley, the authors and the publisher for the arc of this book in return for my honest review. Receiving the book in this manner, had no bearing on this review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Devon Stringer

    4 stars. An extremely informative and necessary read, especially in today's climate. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own and not influenced by anyone. Ever. 4 stars. An extremely informative and necessary read, especially in today's climate. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book in exchange for my honest review. My opinions are my own and not influenced by anyone. Ever.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katie Bruell

    This common sense, smart, effective prescription for stopping mass shootings made me sad, because we're so far from being in a place where we can implement it. Still, this book was a fascinating and hopeful read. This common sense, smart, effective prescription for stopping mass shootings made me sad, because we're so far from being in a place where we can implement it. Still, this book was a fascinating and hopeful read.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Arleen Joyce

    Groundbreaking filled with true research and actual facts. Informative

  17. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Schaffer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Gibeley

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jesyka Traynor

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jody

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

  22. 5 out of 5

    Juju

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

  25. 4 out of 5

    Becky

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shawn

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eric

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lynda Mallory

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nik

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anna

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