National Research Collaborative Awards Nearly $10 Million in Grants

Diverse Projects To Explore Suicide, Youth Violence, Officer-Involved Shootings; Expand and Improve Firearm Data Sets

July 25, 2019

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research today announced one of the largest funding awards for gun policy research since the federal government abandoned significant funding in this area more than two decades ago. The collaborative announced $9.8 million in grants on topics including suicide, school violence, officer-involved shootings, and firearm safety.

After receiving an outpouring of interest from researchers across the United States, the collaborative’s Research Advisory Committee (RAC) selected 17 research projects, including two randomized controlled trials, and four dissertation projects. Together, the studies will help inform policymakers, police departments, school officials and families in their decisions about gun safety and use.

Collaborative Director Andrew Morral said the selected projects will advance the field through new ideas, new data sets, new research approaches and new interventions. “America needs evidence-based answers on the causes of gun violence and how to prevent it,” Morral said. “These research projects, selected first and foremost for their rigor, will generate evidence for informing policy that protects the public and preserves the rights of responsible gun owners.”

The projects include:

  • Two large randomized controlled trials, one evaluating a program for training police officers to better assess high-stakes situations, and another assessing the effectiveness of a national program for reducing violence, including gun violence, in schools.
  • A study integrating California gun sales and registration data with data on suicide and homicide to determine the “secondhand” risks and benefits of gun use for those who don’t own a gun but live with someone who does.
  • An evaluation of the roles of threats, intimidation and coercion using guns in the experiences of more than 400 female domestic violence victims, recorded in daily diaries.
  • A study that interviews 750 young people in Baltimore, Detroit, Las Vegas, New Orleans and New York City to gain a better understanding of disadvantaged urban youths’ experiences with firearms, and how they decide whether to carry them.
  • A nationally representative survey to understand the effects of child-access prevention laws and healthcare provider safe storage counseling on the gun owners’ storage practices.

The funded projects represent a diversity of ideas and perspectives, including research investigators with backgrounds in economics, sociology, criminal justice, psychology, epidemiology and computer science. In addition to providing much-needed evidence on gun policies, the projects will help strengthen the research field by building, expanding, and improving data sets to explore questions related to firearms. Funding for these projects will also broaden the research field by supporting both new and established researchers. A description of all the funded projects can be accessed on the collaborative’s website.

“Everyone agrees that we want to end gun violence, but the shortage of rigorous, impartial research has fueled polarization in discussions of gun policy,” said Frank M. Clark, chair of the collaborative’s nonpartisan Research Advisory Committee, and past chair of the Chicago Board of Education. “Research is a key step in the way forward. These projects will help us get beyond politics and ideology to determine what works and what doesn’t.”

The collaborative has set rules to ensure transparency and replicability in the research it funds. Projects are required to post detailed analytic plans on OSF.org—a research transparency website—describing their hypotheses, measures, and procedures in advance of conducting the research. This ensures that departures from the original analytic plan will be detected. Projects are also required to share their data and statistical analysis code on the same website, so others can review their findings.

The collaborative received 248 letters of interest and invited 47 full proposals representing $30 million worth of proposed work. The proposals were reviewed by at least two Ph.D.-level researchers, the collaborative staff, and RAC members. All funding decisions were made by the RAC. A second call for proposals will be issued in December 2019 or January 2020.

Prior to making these awards, the committee heard from a range of firearm research stakeholders—including the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, March for Our Lives, Everytown for Gun Safety, Major Cities Chiefs Association and the American College of Emergency Physicians—on where they believed new research on gun policy was most needed. These stakeholder meetings informed the collaborative’s strategic plan and its funding decisions.

Despite more than 38,000 deaths and 115,000 firearm-related injuries a year in the United States, the federal government invests only a fraction as much on gun violence research as it does on other causes of death that kill similar numbers of people. According to a 2017 study funded by the National Institutes of Health, gun violence research received only 2% as much federal funding as other causes of death that kill similar numbers of people.

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research supports carefully selected, rigorous research designed to broaden agreement on the facts associated with gun policy and support development of fair and effective policies. The collaborative is administered by the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and began operation with $20 million in funding from Texas-based Arnold Ventures. The collaborative seeks charitable contributions to support its ongoing work.

FAQ

What is the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research?

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research was established to support rigorous scientific research to address the gaps in what we know about gun use and violence, and to generate evidence to improve gun policies in America. The collaborative is supported by philanthropic contributions, and was begun with a seed grant of $20 million from Arnold Ventures. An independent Research Advisory Committee makes all funding decisions, and the collaborative is staffed by researchers from the RAND Corporation.

Why are you funding this research?

Firearm violence and suicide are among the leading causes of death in the United States, where more than 38,000 deaths and 115,000 firearm-related injuries occur yearly. Despite this, the federal government invests little on gun policy research. The collaborative addresses this gap in research investments with the goal of generating evidence for informing policy that protects the public and preserves the rights of responsible gun owners.

Why were these studies selected?

These research projects were selected first and foremost for their rigor. They represent a diversity of ideas and perspectives from new and established researchers, including research investigators with backgrounds in economics, sociology, criminal justice, psychology, epidemiology and computer science. In addition to much-needed evidence to inform gun policies, the selected projects will strengthen the research field by building, expanding, and improving data sets to explore questions related to firearms.

Who was involved in choosing the studies to fund?

All award funding decisions were made by the Research Advisory Committee (RAC) of the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research. At least two independent Ph.D.-level researchers, the collaborative staff, and RAC members reviewed the proposals. The RAC also solicited input from a range of firearms research stakeholders to inform their decisionmaking. This included representatives from groups such as the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Rifle Association, March for Our Lives, Everytown for Gun Safety, Major Cities Chiefs Association, and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

Led by Chairman Frank M. Clark, the nonpartisan RAC provides oversight for the collaborative and is solely responsible for all decisions on grant funding.

What was the process for inviting and selecting the studies?

In January 2019, the collaborative used an open request for proposals to solicit research proposals on topics the Research Advisory Committee identified as the collaborative’s top priorities. We received nearly 250 letters of interest in response to this solicitation. The RAC invited 47 applicants to submit a full proposal. Each proposal received a scientific merit review from at least two Ph.D.-level researchers with expertise in the proposal’s content area, collaborative staff, and members of the RAC.  The RAC made final funding decisions based on criteria to ensure transparency and rigor.

When will we see results?

The scope and timeframe for each project differs, but we expect to start seeing results within a year to 16 months, with the majority concluding in 2021 or beyond.

What do you hope to achieve with the results?

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research seeks to build the evidence base and fill gaps in knowledge around the use of firearms to support the development of fair and effective gun policies. Through this round of funding, the collaborative has selected a diverse set of studies on topics ranging from suicide to school violence to officer-involved shootings and firearm safety. These studies will generate evidence to inform gun policy in America. The collaborative has published its full strategic plan [PDF].

How will the collaborative ensure transparency and replicability in the research process?

To ensure transparency and replicability, all funded projects must post detailed analytic plans on OSF.org—a research transparency website—in advance of conducting the research to ensure that departures from the original analytic plan will be public. There are legitimate reasons why this might occur, but publication of the analytic plan ensures that such departures are acknowledged. Projects are also required to share data and statistical analysis code on the same website so others can review their findings, although in some cases not all data can be shared.

How can I work with the collaborative?

Researchers can sign up for email updates to be alerted to new research RFPs. The collaborative will issue a second call for proposals in January 2020.

If you would like to partner with us to help advance our mission, contact Olivia Cao, collaborative grants manager.