Inaugural Ingram Olkin S3 Forum: Gun Violence — The Statistical Issues

June 26 and 27, 2019




Gun Violence — The Statistical Issues

In honor of Ingram Olkin (1924-2016), a principal founder of NISS and an internationally prominent statistician whose work stressed the importance of statistical thinking in studying major societal problems, NISS is proud to be the sponsor of the Ingram Olkin SForums. These Forums are aimed at engaging scientists and stakeholders in addressing the compelling issues facing contemporary society and exploring the roles that statisticians and data scientists can bring to address these issues.

With the cooperation and support from the American Statistical Association (ASA) and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI), NISS initiates the S3 Forums with a workshop examining gun violence and how statisticians can contribute to its understanding. That gun violence is a vexing problem in the U.S. needs little explanation. Numerous foundations and governmental bodies have recognized that adequate information and insight is lacking about ownership and use of firearms, the causes and consequences of their use, and the effects of interventions and technological innovations.  The sociological context and the implications on health and on law enforcement involve a variety of disciplines; the spectrum of questions that arise affect policymakers at all levels.  Implicit is that obtaining adequate information and understanding requires data of high quality and analyses that can withstand scrutiny by all concerned.  

To address the twin concerns, adequate data and informative analysis, this S3 Forum brings a working group together consisting first, of criminologists and others with experience in a multiplicity of gun violence issues and second, statisticians with interest and expertise to tackle the driving concerns. The workshop program suggests that there are many problems but not sufficient numbers of involved statisticians. A principal purpose of the Forum is to expose the opportunities and needs for statistical efforts and to engage a substantial number of statisticians to work across disciplinary lines to help in understanding and mitigating the effects of gun violence.


Each of the five topic sessions will be chaired and have statisticians as discussants who will set the stage for an ensuing open moderated roundtable discussion involving panelists and audience members. This discussion will be guided by a moderator with a focus on “next steps” for the discussion’s topic. The moderator with other participants at the roundtable will prepare a written report concerning the session topic to serve as the material for a final report by this S3 Forum, which will be distributed widely.


Copies (papers, preprints) of the materials leading to the individual talks will be made available by June 1 to the discussants and the chair. The chair of each session may not necessarily be a statistician and could be drawn from the other speakers. Time allotments: session speakers have about 25 min; discussant about 10 min followed by open discussion.  As indicated, roundtable discussions will be included to follow up on next steps and to form collaborations.  

Participants - How to Register

The session speakers and statistician discussants will be invited participants to this S3 Forum.

Other participants can apply to attend but will be limited in number due to site capacity. For the latter, first please complete the Pre-Event Registration web form below:


After submitting Pre-Event registration information, NISS will contact you regarding instructions for using the event registration links which includes payment for this event.

Registration Fee:  

NISS Affiliate members - $150
Non-NISS Affiliates - $250

Those individuals who have been notified by NISS may use the Registration options at the top right of this event page to register for this event.


If you are calling to make a reservation (703-836-4700), please say:

"I would like to make a Reservation for the NISS Forum 2019."

If you use the website link it is automatically filled with the block details so you only need to select their date ranges.

Please Note: All reservations must be completed by May 24, 2019, to receive the discounted rate of $159 plus taxes. 


Topic 1: Emerging Data Sources

Statistical analysis depends on good data sources. This session aims to familiarize attendees with those data sources, some classic and some new. Attendees will hear about federal data collection efforts and their potential for analysis of gun violence. Attendees will also hear about modern police data collections including gun violence networks and acoustic gunshot detection.

Erica L Smith, Bureau of Justice Statistics, DOJ 

Jonathan Lewin, Chief of the Bureau of Technical Services, Chicago Police Department

Discussant: TBN

Topic 2: Gun Violence Trends

Crime has been on a decline for 20+ years, but what are the trends in gun violence? The session aims to reveal the ups, downs, and cycles of gun violence. Some places have experienced steep declines while others sharp increases. Attendees will hear from statisticians and criminologists what different data sources say about gun violence trends.

Charles Loeffler, Associate Professor of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania

Rick Rosenfeld, Founders Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St. Louis

Janet Lauritsen, Curators’ Distinguished Professor, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri – St. Louis

Yifan Zhang, Biostatistician, Health Policy, Stanford University

Discussant: TBN

Topic 3: Evaluating Gun Violence Initiatives

Several communities have proposed interventions aimed at reducing gun violence. Communities have changed laws, altered policing strategies, and redeveloped community infrastructure in hopes of minimizing or eliminating gun violence. Statistical analysis is essential in the determination of whether these initiatives work and critical in building a base of evidence to support future gun violence reduction plans. Attendees will learn about specific interventions and methods for evaluating those interventions.

Jens Ludwig, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Director of the Chicago Crime Lab, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago

Terry Schell / Andrew Morral, Senior Scientists, RAND Corporation

John MacDonald, Professor of Criminology and Sociology, University of Pennsylvania

Discussant: TBN

Topic 4: Policing Gun Violence

Communities often look to their police to address gun violence. One avenue for reducing gun violence is better investigations of gun assaults. In this session, attendees will hear about a statistical analysis assessing the value of police investigations on solving gun crimes as well as the latest research on statistical analysis of ballistic evidence.

Philip J. Cook, ITT/Terry Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy Studies, Duke University

Heike Hofmann, CSAFE/Iowa, Iowa State University

Discussant: TBN

Topic 5: Police Shootings

High-profile police use-of-force incidents and shootings have prompted three-quarters of the major urban protests, civil unrest, and riots in the United States over the past century, with recent police shootings continuing this pattern. In this session, attendees will hear about statistical analyses of police shootings aimed at gaining a better understanding of the factors that elevate the risk of police shootings.

David Hemenway, Department of Health Policy and Management., Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University

Greg Ridgeway, Department of Criminology, Department of Statistics, University of Pennsylvania

Discussant: TBN

Organizing Committee:

Greg Ridgeway, Chair
Nancy Flournoy
Jim Rosenberger
Lingzhou Xue
David Banks
Amanda Golbeck
Allan Sampson
Jerry Sacks
Sally Morton

Event Type


National Institute of Statistical Sciences


American Statistical Association
Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute
Department of Statistics, Penn State University
Department of Statistics, University of Pittsburgh
The David Bohnett Foundation


Registration by invitation - please fill out the pre-event registration form
United States
National Institute of Statistical Sciences and American Statistical Association
Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute
David Bohnett Foundation and Stanford Department of Statistics