Firearm injuries and deaths have long been part of America. In the past, these have been viewed as criminal justice problems to be dealt with by law enforcement, and investigated by researchers in criminology, sociology and psychology. As other causes of morbidity and mortality were increasingly addressed and solved during the 20th century, the problem of injuries from all causes, including firearms, became more visible and viewed as important health and public health issues. Interdisciplinary approaches that combined the expertise of health care providers, public health investigators, legislative and criminal justice professionals, engineers and policy makers made tremendous advances in decreasing the toll by as much as 95% for motor vehicle fatalities, the most common cause of injury deaths during the 20th century. The time is now for these same interdisciplinary approaches to tackle firearm injuries and deaths.
The Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center has conducted research on firearm injuries and deaths since its inception in 1985. We have done this with colleagues from a variety of disciplines here in Washington State as well as around the country, and the research has resulted in a long list of important research. Federal funding has been limited since 1996 by the Dickey Amendment. We have been fortunate in the last few years in having financial support of our research from the City of Seattle, the first jurisdiction in the U.S. to support firearm research. The Washington State legislature and Governor have now become the third state in the country to provide support specifically for 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.”
The Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program has the mission 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 will build on our 30+ year history of investigation and collaboration in this area to fulfill this mission.
More details coming soon.