Lifting of Federal Ban on Gun Research Funding Has Spurred More Studies

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Key Takeaways

  • U.S. research into gun violence is growing, thanks to new federal funding

  • Money for such research had been stymied since 1996

  • Since Congress started funding such research, more clinical trials and published studies have taken place

FRIDAY, Feb. 9, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. research into gun violence has started to expand following the ending of a two-decade drought of federal funding for such studies, a new report finds.

Firearms violence studies had been stymied by severe restrictions on federal funding adopted by Congress in 1996, the researchers said.

But those restrictions began to loosen in the mid-2010s, and in 2020 Congress began appropriating funds to federal agencies so that scientists could rigorously study gun violence.

As a result, the National Institutes of Health awarded more than $100 million for firearm injury prevention research between 2020 and 2022, according to the new report published Feb. 7 in the journal JAMA Surgery.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded another $49 million during that same period.

That new flow of funds caused clinical trials regarding gun violence to increase by 90% from 2017-19 to 2020-22, while published research on the subject increased by 86%.

“This study clearly shows that federal funding is a motivator and legitimator for investigators interested in firearm injury prevention,” said researcher Dr. Megan Ranney, dean of the Yale School of Public Health.

For the study, researchers reviewed federal grants, registered clinical trials, and published research regarding firearms violence between 1985 and 2022.

Of all the publications reviewed, 47% had no funding, 16% had NIH funding and 11% had CDC funding. Another 38% received funding from other sources, such as private foundations.

Most studies (55%) looked at firearm violence. About 48% focused on firearm suicides, and 21% looked at unintentional firearm injuries.

Some of this has been spurred by the increase in gun violence in the United States, but Ranney said the role of federal funding should not be discounted.

“This study shows that as rates of firearm injuries and death rise in the U.S., continued federal funding is critical for supporting and facilitating rigorous research and data-driven solutions,” Ranney said in a university news release.

“Research helps us understand what works and helps us invest our time and money in programs that will really make a difference,” Ranney added. “Already, CDC- and NIH-funded research has shown the value of some innovative new programs, such as the ‘See Something, Say Something’ program. But more is needed.”

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about firearms research.

SOURCE: Yale University, news release, Feb. 7, 2024

What This Means For You

Americans are learning more about the effects of firearms violence, thanks to increased federal funding.

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