University of Washington epidemiology doctoral student Erin Morgan, a Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center trainee, has been awarded a one-year, $25,000 grant by the National Collaborative for Gun Violence Research to investigate the relationship between crime perpetration and subsequent firearm suicide in Washington state.
Morgan’s study is among $9.8 million in grants announced by the collaborative for 17 research projects that will produce evidence for improving gun policy in America. Collectively, the grants are among the largest funding awards for U.S. gun policy research in more than two decades.
Morgan’s study was selected from among 47 full proposals invited by the collaborative after receiving 248 letters of interest responding to its proposal request.
The project, which will be Morgan’s doctoral dissertation, will link four decades of state data to better understand how crime perpetration might relate to firearm suicide. Among formerly incarcerated individuals who later died by firearm suicide, Morgan will examine the type of crime (violent vs. nonviolent), resources available while in custody, the time span between release from custody and death, and other factors.
A better understanding of this relationship could help guide policy makers and service providers on how to prevent suicides among this group.
“Findings of this investigation can inform policy on firearm ownership and prohibition after conviction for a crime and enhance case workers’ awareness of firearm-suicide risk among their clients as they transition back to the community after incarceration,” said Morgan. “Additionally, these findings can inform correctional facilities deciding which services to provide. Assessing these factors within the criminal justice system can help reduce the burden of suicide in this vulnerable population.”
Despite more than 38,000 deaths and 115,000 firearm-related injuries a year in the United States, the federal government invests only a fraction as much in gun violence research as it does in other causes of death that kill similar numbers of people.
“Everyone agrees that we want to end gun violence, but the shortage of rigorous, impartial research has fueled polarization of the gun policy debate,” said Frank M. Clark, chair of the collaborative’s Research Advisory Committee and chair of the Chicago Board of Education. “Research is a key step in the way forward. These projects will help us get beyond politics and ideology to determine which solutions work and which don’t.”
The National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research supports carefully selected, rigorous research designed to broaden agreement on the facts associated with gun policy, and support development of fair and effective policies. The collaborative is administered by the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and began operation with $20 million in funding from the Texas-based Arnold Ventures. The collaborative seeks charitable contributions to support its ongoing work. For more information, go to www.ncgvr.org.