CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Lau on Interrupting Gun Violence

Christopher Lau (Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law) has posted an abstract of Interrupting Gun Violence (104 Boston University Law Review (Forthcoming April 2024)) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Against the backdrop of declining crime rates, gun violence and gun-related homicides have only risen over the last three years. Just as it historically has, the brunt of that violence has been borne by poor Black and Brown communities. These communities are especially impacted: they are not only far more likely to be the victims of gun violence but are the primary targets of police surveillance and harassment. People of color are disproportionately prosecuted for gun crimes, which, in part prompted the Black Public Defenders Amicus Brief in support of expanding gun rights in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc. v. Bruen.

Recognizing that the carceral approach of policing and prosecution has failed to prevent gun violence and has harmed Black and Brown communities, this Article sets forth community violence interruption groups as a promising decarceral alternative.
Underrecognized in legal scholarship, violence interruption groups address violence by working with the people who are most impacted by cyclical gun violence and intervene by mediating conflicts, defusing imminent violence, and encouraging people to give up their firearms. Building on the work of abolitionist scholars and organizers, this Article centers the role of Violence Interrupters as an important alternative to policing and punitive prosecution. It is the first to explore legal change that might minimize the legal barriers to violence interruption, including statutory reform, mens rea reform, expansion of the Second Amendment, and recognition of an innocent possession defense.

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