Preventing Youth from Obtaining Illegal Firearms

The Challenge

In many Philadelphia neighborhoods, conventional wisdom holds that youth can obtain a gun faster than they can get a job. Between 2007-2013, over 5,000 young Philadelphians, ages 14-24, were injured or killed by a gun. Despite this harrowing reality, police, attorneys, judges, and probation officers often do not have the resources to conduct detailed analyses on why and how youth are obtaining these weapons. Learning this  information could help stakeholders better tackle gun violence in the city.

The Project

During her Emerging Leader Fellowship, Abigail Thibeault worked with Ceasefire PA to conduct research on how young people in Philadelphia gain access to guns and to analyze the pathways and patterns of these transactions. Abigail targeted the study in Philadelphia’s 22nd Police District, an area of the city with particularly high rates of violence, which enabled her to build on the work of Stoneleigh Fellow Richard Greenwald and the Youth Violence Prevention Collaborative.

This Emerging Leader Fellowship enabled Abigail to:

  • Conduct a quantitative and qualitative research study that included (1) meeting with judges, lawyers, and members of law enforcement across the City; (2) reviewing Philadelphia Police Department and Court of Common Pleas records; (3) conducting interviews and focus groups with young people in the 22nd Police District; and (4) engaging with local community leaders and institutions (e.g. schools, Police Athletic League centers) as well as volunteering in the neighborhood.
  • Develop recommendations for reducing gun violence in the 22nd Police District, including: building greater police-community trust, expanding police presence in the neighborhood, and increasing job training and placement programs for youth living in the community.
Abigail Thibeault's Headshot

Abigail Thibeault, JD

Emerging Leader Fellow

2015 - 2016

Ceasefire PA

Current Position

Assistant Public Defender
Maryland Office of the Public Defender