Amid Spiraling Violence, Criminologist Studies New Approaches to Gun Crime
While studying street gangs as part of his Ph.D. in Chicago in the late ’90s, an interview with a non-gang teen helped change Rod Brunson’s thinking about what his research could accomplish.
“She’d figured out how to navigate going to school or the corner store without being victimized,” says Brunson, a professor of criminology and criminal justice. “But then this young person said very somberly, ‘Can you do something about the police?’”
Brunson today focuses on answering questions—like how police officers’ enforcement decisions can by affected by racialized perceptions of different places—that interest not just criminologists, but people in the often-underserved communities he studies. His research broadly tackles the rising toll of gun violence—which UMD is addressing through the 120 Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence, named for the approximate number of people killed each day in the U.S. by firearms. He spoke to Maryland Today about the impact of abundant guns, the dangerous ways some people learn to use them and a public health-based approach to stopping an ongoing national tragedy.