While those who oppose gun control argue that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, it’s painfully and tragically apparent that, in the US at least, people tend to kill people with guns. Therefore, regardless of where you stand on the gun control debate, it makes sense to do as much scientific research as possible into the causes of gun violence and how best to prevent it, in order to ensure that, in the future, less people kill people with guns.
Just a few days after the country’s worst mass shooting in living memory, the California Legislature has voted to set aside funds for the creation of the California Firearm Violence Research Center. Though the resources allocated to the project are modest, totaling $5 million to be dispensed over a five-year period, it should be enough to at least allow a small team of researchers to analyze state-wide data regarding gun-related activities.
“Using real data and scientific methods, our best researchers can help policymakers get past the politics and find real answers to this public health crisis to help save lives in California and throughout the country,” explained Democratic Senator Lois Wolk. By taking a multidisciplinary approach to gun violence research, it is hoped that those working at the center – the first of its kind in the US – can assist the creation of evidence-based firearm violence prevention policies.
Though the announcement comes less than a week after a mass shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub left the nation in mourning – an all-too-often occurrence, largely thanks to insufficient gun control measures – the tragedy actually has nothing to do with the timing of the bill, which has been in the pipeline for several months.
Working closely with scientists from the Violence Prevention Research Center at the University of California, Davis, School of Medicine, Wolk and her associates hope to see the new unit established somewhere on the university’s campus next year. The team, once selected, will have a wide range of questions to answer, such as why gun-related fatalities continue to drop in California despite rising nationwide.
Hopefully, a proper scientific analysis of the available data on firearm activities will help to answer these questions. In the meantime, California can take pride in the fact that it is leading the way in gun violence research and setting an example for a nation with virtually no federally-funded research into this life-or-death issue.