The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic

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Dr. Jillian Peterson and James Densley


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.


Abrams Press

Publication Date:



Densley, James. Peterson, Jillian. The Violence Project.


Countering Violent Extremism


Amanda Morton

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An unflinching investigation into America's mass shooting epidemic..

The Violence Project has compiled one of the most comprehensive datasets on the topic, the Mass Shooter Database.

The book features interviews with survivors of mass shootings, and delves into what causes mass shootings and how to stop them.

A must-read.

Mass public shootings are increasing in frequency and deadliness--Since 1966, 1373 Americans have been killed in these events. Since 2016, hate-motivated shootings have increased and at least 112 have been killed solely because of racism; attackers tend to choose assault weapons and spend significant planning to maximize death.

Psychosis had no part to play in 66% of deaths, and was the sole motive in 1.6% of deaths.

Build relationships and mentor young people

Develop strong skills in crisis intervention and suicide

Teach media literacy; limit active shooter drills for children

Reduce stigma and increase knowledge of mental health; open access to high quality mental health treatment; fund counselors in schools;

Create warm environments; trauma-informed practices;

Build care teams and referral processes; train staff