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The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Committee on Law and Justice
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearms  


Project Scope

The objective of this study is to synthesize existing data and research on guns and violence and on self and other-directed violent behavior to better support policy decisions. It would also examine how data on firearm use can be used to create models of illegal markets, and it will identify additional data and research needs in the area of firearm violence. Building on the IOM study, Reducing the Burden of Injury, and previous work of the Committee on Law and Justice, especially Understanding and Preventing Violence, as well as other reviews of research and data on gun violence, the panel would organize a series of meetings, workshops, and commissioned papers to review important findings from the literature. The primary substantive objectives of the study committee will be the following: 1) Assess current research studies and databases to provide new insights on their strengths and limitations and to identify important gaps in knowledge; 2) Describe new methods to put research findings and data together to support the design and implementation of improved prevention, intervention, and control strategies for gun related crime, suicide, and accidental fatalities; 3) Utilize existing data and research on firearms and firearm violence to develop models of illegal firearms markets; 4) Examine the complex ways in which firearm violence becomes part of community life and an accepted way of resolving problems, especially among youth.


National Academy of Sciences
National Institute of Justice
Department of Health and Human Services
Joyce Foundation
Annie E. Casey Foundation
Packard Foundation

Committee Membership
CHARLES F. WELLFORD (Chair), Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland, College Park
ROBERT F. BORUCH, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
LINDA B. COTTLER, Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine
ROBERT D. CRUTCHFIELD, Department of Sociology, University of Washington
JOEL L. HOROWITZ, Department of Economics, Northwestern University
ROBERT L. JOHNSON, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, New Jersey Medical School
STEVEN D. LEVITT, Department of Economics, University of Chicago
TERRIE E. MOFFITT, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin
SUSAN A. MURPHY, Department of Statistics, University of Michigan
KAREN E. NORBERG, Department of Psychiatry, Boston University, and Center for Health Policy at Washington University, St. Louis
PETER REUTER, School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland
RICHARD ROSENFELD, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Missouri-St. Louis
JOEL WALDFOGEL, Public Policy and Management Department, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
JAMES Q. WILSON, Department of Management and Public Policy (emeritus), University of California, Los Angeles
CHISTOPHER WINSHIP, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

JOHN V. PEPPER, Study Director
BRENDA McLAUGHLIN, Research Associate
MICHELE McGUIRE, Project Assistant
RALPH PATTERSON, Senior Project Assistant

Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review (2004)

 Firearms report cover




For years proposals for gun control and the ownership of firearms have been among the most contentious issues in American politics. For public authorities to make reasonable decisions on these matters, they must take into account facts about the relationship between guns and violence as well as conflicting constitutional claims and divided public opinion. In performing these tasks, legislators need adequate data and research to judge both the effects of firearms on violence and the effects of different violence control policies.

Readers of the research literature on firearms may sometimes find themselves unable to distinguish scholarship from advocacy. Given the importance of this issue, there is a pressing need for a clear and unbiased assessment of the existing portfolio of data and research. Firearms and Violence uses conventional standards of science to examine three major themes - firearms and violence, the quality of research, and the quality of data available. The book assesses the strengths and limitations of current databases, examining current research studies on firearm use and the efforts to reduce unjustified firearm use and suggests ways in which they can be improved.



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