Latest News and Updates

National Research Conference on Firearm Injury Prevention Draws Top Experts

Broad Program Addressed Critical Gun Policy Issues

Attendees at a panel discussion at the 2022 National Research Conference on Firearm Injury Prevention in Washington, D.C. Photo by Liisa Ecola / RAND Corporation

Attendees at a panel discussion at the 2022 National Research Conference on Firearm Injury Prevention in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Liisa Ecola / RAND Corporation

More than 525 academics, experts, and students gathered in Washington, D.C. last week for the largest-ever gathering focused on research into prevent gun violence, organized and supported in part by the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research.

The National Research Conference on Firearm Injury Prevention, held from November 29 to December 1, 2022, featured more than 250 posters and presentations addressing some of the most critical topics in the field.

In the United States, more than 45,000 people die of gunshot injuries each year, with such injuries the leading cause of death among children and teenagers. The rate of gun injuries and deaths has also risen sharply since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite this, federal funding of research into the prevention of firearm injury has been limited in recent decades. In the past several years, the funding environment has improved, through investment from private funders and federal funding from the U.S. Congress. This boost in funding has prompted an unprecedented surge in new information on gun violence prevention.

To capitalize on these new findings and help to build the growing field of gun policy researchers, RAND Corporation and the collaborative partnered with the University of Michigan’s Institute for Firearm Injury Prevention and Columbia University’s Scientific Union to organize the conference.

While the event was preceded by other, smaller conferences, the National Research Conference was the largest ever gathering of researchers on the topic of firearm injury prevention, bringing together criminologists, economists, public health experts, and public policy researchers.

Among the findings presented were:

  • A violence-interruption program in Chicago that provides both intensive mentoring and group therapy to young adults was found to reduce violent offense arrests among participants.
  • A program to encourage safe storage of household guns, developed with input from rural families, substantially increased the number of households storing their firearms in ways that make it harder for children to access them.
  • A review of existing data found that 11 percent of all firearm deaths are related to intimate partner violence in some way, suggesting that deaths might be reduced through IPV prevention.

The conference also included opportunities for early-career researchers to learn from established academics in the field through a mentoring lunch, and presentations from federal agencies and foundations about their priorities in funding future work.

A new professional association, the Research Society for the Prevention of Firearm-Related Harms is now being established by the conference's sustainability committee, and a 2023 conference is being planned.

Read more about the conference in a commentary by director Andrew Morral and research director Liisa Ecola on the RAND Blog.