Why are we captive to a seemingly endless cycle of tragic deaths and injuries?
And what can we learn from policies which, when implemented, have been successful at prevention?
The newly created Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program will work to answer these questions about gun violence, which is eating away at the fabric of our communities and American society.
Why study firearm injuries?
Here is an astonishing statistic: 99.8% of us living in the US will, at some point in our lives, know a person in our own social network who has been shot or killed by a firearm!
At greatest risk are the people you might imagine, children and adolescents, people struggling with mental health issues or substance abuse, people living in poverty, communities of color, and victims of domestic violence. In the last decade, over half of the alarming increase in suicides has been through the use of firearms.
The cumulative damage to our communities from individual and mass shootings has forced us to alter the way we live, work and interact, infecting our day-to-day lives with a sense of powerlessness and fear. We are a wounded nation grieving for the mounting losses—of lives, of our sense of community and safety.
What policies and programs are effective in limiting firearm injuries and deaths, while also protecting the rights given to individuals by the Second Amendment as interpreted by the courts?
We need interdisciplinary research combining the expertise of health care providers, public health investigators, legislative and criminal justice professionals, engineers and policy makers to develop an objective, scientific basis for determining what works best. This helped us to figure out how to reduce the death toll from motor vehicle crashes by 95%.
Timing is right! We have made a long overdue shift–recognizing that injury and death by firearms are health and public health problems, and not just criminal justice system problems for law enforcement and researchers in criminology, sociology and psychology alone to solve.
What are we doing to tackle this problem?
The Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program’s mission is to reduce the impact of firearm injury and death on people’s lives through interdisciplinary research and collaboration with institutional, community, and governmental partners.
We are building on a strong, successful history of investigation and collaboration in this arena. The Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center has conducted research on firearm injuries and deaths since its inception in 1985, using an interdisciplinary approach in Washington State and around the country. This has led us to important research. While federal funding has been limited since 1996 by the Dickey Amendment, we have been able to proceed with financial support from the City of Seattle, the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to support firearm research. The Washington State legislature and Governor have now made Washington just the third state in the country to specifically fund firearm research to “support investigations of firearm death and injury risk factors, evaluate the effectiveness of state firearm laws and policies, assess the consequences of firearm violence, and develop strategies to reduce the toll of firearm violence to citizens of the state.”
Learn more at the FIPRP Website.