News Release

Prevention of mass shootings at the heart of grant awarded to UMass Lowell researcher

Tasked with analyzing legal hold orders, Greene-Colozzi aims to use data to prevent further violence

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Massachusetts Lowell

UMass Lowell Emily Greene-Colozzi


UMass Lowell criminologist Emily Greene-Colozzi is studying the effectiveness of so-called Red Flag laws to prevent mass shootings.

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Credit: UMass Lowell courtesy photo

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Prevention of mass shootings at the heart of grant awarded to UMass Lowell researcher

Tasked with analyzing legal hold orders, Greene-Colozzi aims to use data to prevent further violence


At 627, the number of mass shootings in 2023 is nearly double the days in the calendar year.


As the U.S. marks this figure, tallied by Gun Violence Archive, a UMass Lowell criminal justice professor will examine whether the patchwork of gun prevention laws enacted state to state are actually doing the job.


Known as an extreme risk protection order, or ERPO, these legal documents can be filed against a person who has a license to possess or carry a gun and who poses a risk of physically hurting themselves or others by possessing such a weapon. Colloquially, in Massachusetts, this is also called the Red Flag Law.


The National Institute of Justice recently awarded School of Criminology and Justice Studies Associate Professor Emily Greene-Colozzi nearly $1 million ($985,776) to study how well such laws prevent the intention or completion of mass public shootings in the United States.


“ERPOs have great potential to impact gun violence, but currently, we lack the systematic data to truly understand the relationship between risk-based legislation like ERPOs and mass shootings,” said Greene-Colozzi. “It is our hope that the results of this study will impact public safety and education about ERPOs, mass public shootings, and prevention.”


Her research will utilize open-source data to compare the outcomes of mass public shootings and foiled plots as they are impacted by various contexts and procedures related to ERPOs through the nation. Tracked in this data set will be social media platforms utilized by perpetrators and plotters as well as warning signs, information leaking and other concerning behaviors prior to mass shootings.


“With this grant, we will have the opportunity to collect data that helps us not only examine the outcomes of ERPOs, but also understand the ‘black box’ mechanism underlying the relationship: where, when, how, and why ERPOs are effective, or ineffective, and what can be done to maximize the preventative potential of these laws,” said Greene-Colozzi.


Partnering with fellow researchers at the University of South Carolina and SUNY’s The Rockefeller Institute of Government, Greene-Colozzi’s research grant will also provide an opportunity for School of Criminology and Justice Studies students to understand first-hand how data interpretation can play a role in saving lives.


“This grant will support the training and assistantship of several students, and hopefully provide multiple opportunities for publications, presentation, and dissemination,” she said.


“This has been a record-breaking year with more than 560 mass public shootings and Emily Greene-Colozzi’s innovative study and related data resources generated from the project will contribute significantly to our understanding of these incidents,” said Professor April Pattavina, chair of the School of Criminology and Justice Studies. “This is an important opportunity for her, and the criminal justice students she plans to hire on the project, to build new and much needed knowledge on an accelerating problem that will be used to inform theory, prevention, and system response strategies in the future.”

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