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National Research Collaborative Awards $7.5 Million in Grants To Study Gun Violence

As Gun Violence Surges Amid COVID-19, Need for Rigorous Research Intensifies

The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research today announced $7.5 million in new funding for gun policy research on topics including officer-involved shootings, intimate partner gun violence, and the risks and benefits of gun ownership and use.

The announcement marks the Collaborative’s second major investment in gun policy research to help close the funding gap after the federal government discontinued most funding of gun policy research more than two decades ago. In July 2019, the Collaborative awarded an initial round of $9.8 million to 17 research projects. At the end of 2019, for the first time in more than 20 years, the federal government made a one-time commitment of $25 million to support gun violence research.

After receiving 238 letters of interest and inviting 48 full proposals representing $23 million in proposed research, the Collaborative’s independent, nonpartisan Research Advisory Committee selected nine research projects, five dissertation awards, and one white paper award to fund in its second round of grantmaking. With support from the Missouri Foundation for Health, four of the funded projects, totaling $1.95 million, address gun violence in Missouri, which has some of the nation’s highest rates of gun violence.

In addition, the Research Advisory Committee has invited three other grant applicants to revise and resubmit their proposals. If all three are accepted, the committee is prepared to commit up to an additional $3.1 million in funding for a total of $10.6 million in awards.

Together, the studies will add to the growing body of research informing policymakers, police departments, families, and others in their decisions about gun use and safety.

Collaborative Director Andrew Morral noted that sales of firearms and deaths from gun violence have increased across the country during COVID-19—underscoring the urgent need for rigorous research that can inform effective gun policy. “We must answer the question: What works and what doesn’t to reduce gun violence?” Morral said. “The projects we have funded through the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research highlight many of the areas where more and better research is needed to effectively support development of policies that will save lives.”

The 15 funded projects include:

  • An analysis of the role of firearm access, use, and ownership in intimate partner homicide and intimate partner homicide-suicide in two states, Missouri and Oregon.
  • A study of data representing 7,200 incidents of officer-involved shootings as well as interviews with 30 law enforcement agencies with high numbers of officer-involved shootings. The results will inform training and policies to reduce future officer-involved shootings.
  • An expansion of the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) in 2021 and 2022 to fill critical data gaps about risk factors for gun suicide and urban gun violence among youth and young adults, veterans, immigrants, and LGBT people. The CHIS annually collects information on 20,000 California adults and adolescents.
  • A prospective, multi-center study drawing on the American College of Surgeons Trauma Quality Improvement Program to gain a better understanding of both individual and community-level risk factors associated with non-lethal firearm injuries.
  • An exploration of whether gun-free zones in St. Louis, Missouri, reduce or increase gun violence.
  • A white paper describing a rigorous method for evaluating the benefits or harms that gun policies impose on gun owners and users (funding provided in partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation).

The funded investigators include those with backgrounds in economics, sociology, criminology, psychology, social welfare, public health, nursing, medicine, epidemiology, and decision theory. In addition to providing necessary 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. A description of all funded research projects is available on the Collaborative’s website.

“We selected these research projects based first and foremost on their scientific rigor,” said Frank M. Clark, chair of the Research Advisory Committee and past chair of the Chicago Board of Education. “That is the only way to generate the evidence necessary for informing policy that both protects the public and preserves the rights of responsible gun owners.”

The Collaborative has set rules to ensure transparency and replicability in the research it funds. Projects are required to post detailed analytic plans on—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 National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research funds rigorous scientific research with direct relevance to firearm-violence reduction in the United States. It was seeded with a $20 million gift from Arnold Ventures and has been supported by contributions from other organizations, including Wells Fargo, Missouri Foundation for Health, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation.