Experts Available to Speak About Las Vegas, Mass Shootings, and Gun Control

UC Riverside scholars offer expert perspectives on a variety of topics related to the Las Vegas shooting

A view of the Las Vegas Strip

Five UCR experts are available to speak about a variety of topics related to a recent mass shooting that occurred during a music festival on the Las Vegas Strip. Photo credit: MGM Resorts

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — With at least 59 people killed and hundreds more injured, Sunday night’s mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival remains the deadliest in modern American history. The following scholars from the University of California, Riverside are available to offer expert perspectives on a variety of topics related to this unfortunate occurrence, including Las Vegas as a city, mass shootings, public and legislative opinion on gun control, and the psychological consequences that surface in the aftermath of such an event.

Benjamin Newman, associate professor of public policy and political science
(951) 827-2302

In addition to his dual appointments in the public policy and political science departments, Benjamin Newman serves as a faculty affiliate at the Presley Center for Crime and Justice. His expertise covers the political consequences of demographic change and the criminal justice system, among other areas. His most recently released research, published the morning after the Las Vegas shooting, suggests that people who live closer to mass shootings are more likely to support increased gun control than those who don’t, and that more mass public shootings may need to happen in the U.S. for the country to move toward majority support for stricter gun regulations.

Steven Clark, professor of psychology and director of the Presley Center for Crime and Justice
(951) 827-5541

Steven Clark has done extensive research on eyewitness memory and identification, and has consulted with law enforcement and defense and prosecuting attorneys on the matter. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Association for Criminal Justice Research in California. Clark says there is a need for more research on gun violence, which California appears poised to spearhead. In 2016, the California Legislature passed a bill to systematically document all officer-involved shootings and allocated $5 million to the University of California system to create a research center for gun violence.

Tod Goldberg, administrative director of UC Riverside’s Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts
(760) 834-0928

A former resident of Las Vegas, award-winning author Tod Goldberg is available to comment on a broad range of topics related to the city, including its history, literature, crime, casinos, and the mob. He has written extensively about Las Vegas life in best-selling books such as “Other Resort Cities” (2009), “Gangsterland” (2014), and “Gangster Nation” (2016).  During his time as a columnist and critic for outlets including Las Vegas Mercury, Las Vegas City Life, and Las Vegas Weekly, Goldberg won five awards from the Nevada Press Association, and in 2016 he won the Silver Pen from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.

Augustine Kposowa, professor and co-chair of sociology
(951) 827-5936   

Among other topics, Augustine Kposowa studies gun availability, gun storage practices, and violent death. His U.S.-based research focuses on individual and environmental risk factors for various causes of death, including suicide and homicide. His 2016 study “Impact of Firearm Availability and Gun Regulation on State Suicide Rates” found that household gun ownership and storage practices are significant contributors to U.S. suicide rates at the state level, and that if firearms were less available nationwide, fewer people would succeed in killing themselves.

Kate Sweeny, associate professor of psychology
(951) 827-7165

Random acts of violence like the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas perpetuate feelings of uncertainty and fear across the nation. For some, this uncertainty is heightened to an extreme degree as they await news of friends and loved ones who may have been injured or killed in the shooting. Kate Sweeny is an internationally recognized expert in the psychology of uncertainty, and particularly the experience of awaiting personally significant news. Her research speaks to the often-overwhelming distress people experience during these acute moments of uncertainty, the consequences of this distress for health and well-being, and strategies people can use to survive these experiences.

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