Issues and insights to guide public health research on gun violence

The question we are asking is not whether gun violence is a problem primarily for the public health or criminal justice sector, but how these two sectors can work together – and with other sectors – to maximize public safety and well-being while respecting fully the rights of citizens. Equity must become another important variable: We must continue to focus on the impact of our interventions on racial differences as we examine the effectiveness of these policies.

Science is organized around four questions that are used to structure this research program.

A.) What is the problem?

How many people have been shot, who are they, where is it happening? What kind of gun was used and how was it obtained? What is the relationship between the shooter and the victim? What other types of damage have been done and the shooting has increased or decreased?

B.) What are the reasons?

What is the role of alcohol and drugs? What is the role of gangs, poverty and systemic racism? What is the role of mental illness, robbery and domestic violence? What is the role of private gun ownership (both positive and negative) and easy access to weapons? What are the factors that protect us, such as stable families and a safe environment?

° C.) What works?

Which practices, interventions, policies and laws work best to prevent these deaths and injuries?

What evidence of effectiveness do we have for policies such as background checks, bans on the sale of high-capacity firearms, laws to prevent child access, concealed carry laws, reporting requirements for firearms sales, non-gun zones, licensing and authorization requirements, reporting requirements for lost or stolen firearms, minimum age requirements, prohibitions on mental illness, sustainable position laws, surrender of firearms by prohibited holders (including high-risk protection orders or ” red flag laws ”) or waiting periods?

What is the evidence of the effectiveness of voluntary weapons safety practices, such as the use of trigger locks, firearms training, self-enrollment in the Federal National Immediate Verification System (NICS) and suicide prevention? personal protection and crime prevention?

E.) How are you doing it?

How do you apply the findings and translate them into policies, legislation and practices that can be extended?

How researchers can better communicate their findings to the public in a way that will change the beliefs and culture of guns in a safer and healthier way when private gun ownership in the United States is “widespread, culturally established, and constitutionally protected.” ? How can scientific discoveries be effectively communicated and applied when more and more people are skeptical and denying science?

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What is working to prevent gun violence and protect gun rights?

To answer the question of what works, interventions must be found that meet two goals at the same time: reducing gun violence and protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners.

These are not mutually exclusive goals. Through research on the prevention of gun violence, we can find interventions that will achieve both goals: the protection of gun rights and the reduction of gun violence.

Strategies that work to achieve both goals may, for example, aim to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not possess them, while allowing law-abiding gun owners to keep their guns. These strategies must be carefully designed using behavioral risk factors and targeting individuals at high risk of gun killings or suicides with firearms, while fully respecting constitutional legislation and policies.

Once we find these strategies, research will be needed to prove that these interventions work both to reduce gun violence and to protect gun rights. A third goal of this study should also be to find interventions that will reduce racial disparities in the severity of gun violence and in the ways in which laws are enforced.

Some of the answers to these questions will come from the analysis of existing datasets, others may require new data collection efforts, and some may require large-scale controlled studies covering multiple jurisdictions over a long period of time.

Federal and state governments can play a unique role in supporting the design and implementation of such studies, especially when they require the cooperation of various departments (such as the police, public health, housing and urban development, education, health, and psychiatry). health). Examples of possible ways to achieve both goals include universal background checks, removing loopholes and tracking results; restrictions on access for perpetrators of domestic violence; red flag laws; and safe storage (of weapons).

How do we measure the extent to which an intervention or policy affects the rights of law-abiding gun owners?

Research is needed to develop a way to measure the impact of various interventions on law enforcement officers’ rights. Just as environmental impact measures help us protect the environment, this research will help us protect and measure gun rights. What is measured happens.

What are the benefits and costs of owning a weapon?

What are the benefits and costs of weapons policies for law-abiding gun owners, non-gun owners and other stakeholders (eg police, school staff)? Does the fact that more law-abiding citizens carry guns deter crime and reduce gun violence? Are firearms safety programs that include improved safety practices for firearms owners effective?

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