Despite approximately 36,000 firearm deaths and more than 100,000 injuries per year, we lack basic information about the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it. We don’t know, for example, how household gun ownership has changed over time, or how many people routinely carry concealed handguns. We don’t know whether carrying a gun increases or decreases the risk of firearm assault. Essentially, we don’t have the information we need to craft evidence-backed gun policies to address gun violence and make our schools and country safer.
To address this issue, LJAF is spearheading a National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, which will work with researchers to produce policy-relevant empirical research and disseminate key findings to a wide variety of audiences. The goal is to inform state and federal gun violence policies and interventions and to increase public safety, while protecting individuals’ constitutional rights. The collaborative will work with RAND Corporation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institution that runs the Gun Policy in America initiative, an important resource in gun policy science.
The collaborative will build from a research agenda developed by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of the National Academies, which includes these areas of interest, among others:
• Characteristics of gun violence (How are guns purchased? How do changes in ownership occur? How are guns used? What are the differences in fatal and nonfatal gun use?)
• Risk and protective factors (What are the impacts of youth having access to, possessing, and carrying guns? What are the potential risks and benefits of having a gun in the house? What factors increase the probability of gun violence?)
• Gun violence interventions (Can we more effectively prevent violence-prone people from accessing guns? Which, if any, childhood education or prevention programs reduce gun violence in childhood and in later life? Do programs to physically improve high-crime areas work to decrease gun violence?)