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This special collection brings together evidence and insights from nonprofits, foundations, and research organizations working to understand the full impact of firearm use and gun violence in the US. By providing us with analyses of current state and federal laws as well as valuable data on suicides, homicides, accidents, and mass shootings, these organizations seek to inform sound public policy and to curb this ongoing public health epidemic.

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"Gun Violence" by M+R Glasgow licensed under CC 2.0

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Visualizing Firearm Mortality and Law Effects: An Interactive Web-Based Tool

February 23, 2023

The Firearm Law Effects and Mortality Explorer is designed to provide users with information about the distribution of firearm deaths across states and demographic subgroups. In addition, it allows users to explore how those deaths might be affected by the implementation of a set of commonly enacted state firearm laws using estimates of those effects produced by the RAND research team. In the documentation that accompanies the tool, the research team describes the data sources used to produce the visualizations in the tool, the assumptions underlying the visualizations, and the statistical models that produce the law effect estimates the visualizations depict.

The Science of Gun Policy: A Critical Synthesis of Research Evidence on the Effects of Gun Policies in the United States, Third Edition

January 17, 2023

In this report, part of the RAND Corporation's Gun Policy in America initiative, researchers seek objective information about what scientific literature reveals about the likely effects of various gun laws. In the third edition of this report, the authors incorporate more-recent research in their synthesis of the available scientific data regarding the effects of 18 state firearm policies on firearm deaths, violent crime, suicides, the gun industry, defensive gun use, and other outcomes. By highlighting where scientific evidence is accumulating, the authors hope to build consensus around a shared set of facts that have been established through a transparent, nonpartisan, and impartial review process. In so doing, they also illuminate areas in which more and better information could make important contributions to establishing fair and effective gun policies.

Suggestions for Estimating the Effects of State Gun Policies: Commentary on Four Methodological Problems in the Current Literature

February 15, 2022

Research on gun policy topics has often been controversial, partly because different researchers studying the same questions—and typically using the same or similar data sets—have often reported contradictory findings, which leads to confusion about the merits of the policy being studied. One potential explanation is that different researchers may be using methods that are more or less appropriate to the gun policy topics they are investigating.In this report, part of the RAND Gun Policy in America initiative, the authors discuss four common methodological problems that they observed in the literature evaluating gun policies and offer suggestions for how future research on gun policies could be improved. In presenting these ideas, the authors hope to improve awareness of some of the weaknesses with commonly used methods for estimating gun policy effects, stimulate debate about how best to address some of these limitations, and encourage reviewers of research to advocate for stronger methods prior to accepting papers for publication.

The Magnitude and Sources of Disagreement Among Gun Policy Experts, Second Edition

November 30, 2021

The effects of firearm policies, though frequently debated, have historically received less-rigorous scientific evaluation than have the effects of other policies affecting public safety, health, and recreation. Despite improvements in recent years, there is still limited evidence of how some gun policies that are frequently proposed or enacted in the United States are likely to affect important outcomes (such as firearm homicides, property crime, and the right to bear arms). In areas without strong scientific evidence, policymakers and the public rely heavily on what policy advocates or social scientists believe the effects are most likely to be.In this report, part of the RAND Gun Policy in America initiative, RAND researchers describe the combined results from two fieldings (2016 and 2020) of a survey of gun policy experts. Respondents were asked to estimate the likely effects of 19 gun policies on ten outcomes. The researchers use these and other responses to establish the diversity of beliefs among gun policy experts, assess where experts are in more or less agreement on the effects of gun laws, and evaluate whether differences in the policies favored by experts result from differences in experts' assumptions about the policies' effects or differences in experts' policy objectives. The analysis suggests that experts on different sides of the gun policy debate share some objectives but disagree on which policies will achieve those objectives. Therefore, collecting stronger evidence about the true effects of policies is, the researchers believe, a necessary step toward building greater consensus on which policies to pursue.

Improving Data Infrastructure to Reduce Firearms Violence

October 19, 2021

In the fall of 2020, Arnold Ventures, a philanthropy dedicated to maximizing opportunity and minimizing injustice, and NORC at University of Chicago, an objective nonpartisan research institution, released the Blueprint for a US Firearms Infrastructure (Roman, 2020). The Blueprint is the consensus report of an expert panel of distinguished academics, trailblazing practitioners, and government leaders. It describes 17 critical reforms required to modernize how data about firearms violence of all types (intentional, accidental, and self-inflicted) are collected, integrated and disseminated. This project, which is also supported by Arnold Ventures, takes the conceptual priorities described in the Blueprint and proposes specific new steps for implementation.The first step in building a better firearms data infrastructure is to acknowledge where we currently stand. In The State of Firearm Data in 2019 (Roman, 2019), the expert panel found that while there are a substantial number of data sources that collect data on firearms violence, existing datasets and data collections are limited, particularly around intentional injuries. There is some surveillance data, but health data on firearms injuries are kept separately from data on crimes, and there are few straightforward ways to link those data. Data that provide context for a shooting--where the event took place, and what the relationship was between victim and shooter--are not available alongside data on the nature of injuries. Valuable data collections have been discontinued, data are restricted by policy, important data are not collected, data are often difficult to access, and contemporary data are often not released in a timely fashion or not available outside of specialized settings. As a result, researchers face vast gaps in knowledge and are unable to leverage existing data to build the evidence base necessary to adequately answer key policy questions and inform firearms policymaking.In the Blueprint, the expert panel developed a set of recommendations organized around a reconceptualization of how data are collected and who collects data. The broad themes from the Blueprint are as follows:Almost all surveillance data in health and criminal justice is generated locally. It is a high priority to provide information, technical assistance, implementation supports, and funding to state and local governments to improve their collections.Comprehensive monitoring of all federal data collections is needed to ensure that important data elements are being collected, data gaps are being addressed, and quality issues are quickly resolved.Timely dissemination of key data is important, including the development of guidelines to ensure consistency across collections and that resources are made available to speed reporting for collections with historical delays.Improvement is needed in strategic communication about the purpose and use of data to federal agencies, researchers and to the general public.The current report builds on the Blueprint by developing implementation guidance for key recommendations. Where the Blueprint included actionable recommendations, such as naming discontinued surveys that should be resurrected, this report develops specific recommendations for implementation. The report is centered on three topics that were the highest priority for the expert panel but that required additional research before guidance could be disseminated. The research findings from that additional investigation are reported here, and recommendations to facilitate implementation are described. The three topic areas are as follows:The creation of a nonfatal firearms injury databaseIncreasing the quality, availability, and usefulness of firearms data for research and policyPractical steps for building state capacity and infrastructure to use data for evidence-based decision-making

A Blueprint for a U.S. Firearms Data Infrastructure

October 1, 2020

This report makes recommendations for priority changes to the U.S. firearms data infrastructure. The recommendations here include steps to improve existing data collections that can be implemented immediately and long-term changes in strategy to build a more robust and scalable infrastructure. The development of a rigorous empirical research base to inform both citizens and policymakers requires a robust and sustainable data infrastructure. The most enduring data infrastructure is one that is comprehensive, flexible, and nonpartisan. Nowhere is that data foundation more needed than in the realm of firearms violence—reliable data are a critical bridge to effective policymaking that improves public safety by reducing the number of firearm accidents, suicides, homicides, and assaults.