Government Technology

Special Report: IT Tools for Safer Communities

March 26, 2013 By

This report is based on the activities of the Digital Communities program, a network of public- and private-sector IT professionals who are working to improve local governments’ delivery of public service through the use of digital technology. The program — a partnership between Government Technology and e.Republic’s Center for Digital Government — consists of task forces that meet online and in person to exchange information on important issues facing local government IT professionals.

More than 1,000 government and industry members participate in Digital Communities task forces focused on digital infrastructure, law enforcement and big city/county leadership. The Digital Communities program also conducts the annual Digital Cities and Digital Counties surveys, which track technology trends and identify and promote best practices in local government.

Digital Communities quarterly reports appear in
Government Technology magazine in March, June, September and December.

We haven’t yet, as a society, come to terms with guns. The nation was born in a revolution fought with muskets, and the right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Even Thomas Jefferson, that most cerebral of men, once said that “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

But what if a madman shoots children, as happened recently in Connecticut? While crime as a whole is down — New York City even had a full day with no shootings or stabbings last fall — the fact remains that anyone who hears about a mass shooting wants to do something to prevent it from happening again. But treading a path between confiscation of all guns and open carry everywhere is not easy, and of the many ideas that have been offered, there are few workable solutions and many frustrating complexities.

Following the Sandy Hook school shooting, Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy exemplified the frustration and the impulse to do something — anything — to stop gun violence. “We don’t yet know the underlying cause behind this tragedy, and we probably never will,” he said. “But that can’t be an excuse for inaction.”

Many initiatives are circulating in Congress and numerous state legislatures, including proposals to restrict school visitors, increase taxes on gun sales, restrict clip sizes, outlaw semi-automatic weapons, and the latest twist: require gun owners to purchase liability insurance.

Most approaches to reducing gun violence — no one really expects to eliminate it altogether — focus on reducing access to firearms, either by decreasing the number and types of weapons in circulation, or by restricting access for individuals most likely to abuse firearms, such as convicted criminals, drug abusers and the mentally ill. Both approaches face significant obstacles.

Americans already own more than 300 million firearms of which more than 100 million are handguns, so limits on new firearms, ammunition, etc., could impact the annual sale of some 10,000 firearms, but will not touch the weapons already sitting in half the nation’s households. While the gun control debate heats up, the search continues for measures that are truly effective and that can reduce gun violence, which claims some 10,000 lives each year in the United States.

The 12-step motto — “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference” — might provide a practical approach for dealing with gun violence and the legislative efforts under way.

Some things we must live with, most notably guns in homes. The vast majority of those are used responsibly for hunting, target shooting or self-protection. But as long as there are firearms in the hands of people, there will be the violent actions of a few disturbed individuals. The things that can be changed are the subject of this special section, especially IT tools that can help prevent, mitigate and recover from gun violence.

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Jeremiah M Kelleker    |    Commented March 27, 2013

For a proposed amendment to the Firearm Gun Control Act which addresses the need for an effective solution through the use of technology, please download the pdf available at The January 09 version reflects the latest revision date, and is made available to serve the public good. Jerry M Kelleher

Thbbbbttt!!!!    |    Commented March 28, 2013

Half-assed reporting with no citations and limited use of statistics, missing information quite disjointed in flow. The title of the article is misleading, there is no mention of the tools that are being used. All this appears to be is editorial trolling for getting people to come to the site. Fact of the matter is, you don't need to spend millions on IT tools, millions extra on law enforcement, millions on wasted government official time trying to over-legislate something that is a God-given right. What it boils down to is we need to take better care of people. Reopen institutions where the mentally ill can get help. Rebuild communities and teach people not to look the other way when someone is having trouble (family, financial, etc.). Don't nanny people by dictating what's good/bad for them (eh Bloomberg), but rather educate and provide healthier alternatives. Educate on the appropriate/safe care/use/respect of firearms. THEY ARE A TOOL, nothing more nothing less. Just like a knife, hammer or baseball bat (which are also used in the commission of crimes and deaths; machetes have been just as effective as guns when it come to murdering school kids, just look at China).

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