Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-3) today participated in a demonstration at the University of New Haven (UNH) on the university's capabilities to bridge the major gap in research and data analysis on firearms violence. Ted Alcorn, research director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and senior policy analyst for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also participated.
The United States lacks reliable research on gun violence due in part to a 17-year Congressionally imposed funding limitation on the Department of Health and Human Services. Restraints also keep the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) from disclosing firearm trace data. Due to these two provisions, researchers cannot answer some of the most basic questions about how to understand and prevent firearm injuries and deaths.
"We conduct evidence-based research into car crashes, prescription drug usage, smoking, and all sorts of other accidents and injuries," DeLauro said. "But for years now, this type of federal research on firearms has been effectively banned for ideological reasons. We should be conducting more research into how to prevent these injuries and save lives, as UNH has the capability to do. Congress should be doing everything possible to enhance public health, not intimidating research centers. As the senior Democrat on the House subcommittee that oversees HHS funding, I will fight for these important resources."
The expertise of UNH's Institute for the Study of Violent Groups (ISVG), coupled with the Center for Analytics in UNH's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences and ISVG's partnership with Yale University's Department of Emergency Medicine, could result in valuable data about gun violence, injuries, and deaths in Connecticut.
"There are accurate data currently available, which are rich in detail on gun-related violence, injuries and deaths," said UNH President Steven Kaplan. "The main problem is that these data are not being collected and aggregated. This is a task UNH is capable of tackling immediately if provided adequate funding."
For over a decade, UNH's ISVG has refined an expertise and ability to gather, categorize and analyze tremendous volumes of information. The UNH and Yale University team proposes a Connecticut pilot program that could serve as a national model for systematically aggregating and categorizing gun violence incidents in order to provide researchers with the data necessary to make science-based public policy recommendations.
"UNH's proposed pilot project for Connecticut is an example of how our nation could begin to re-engage in this potentially lifesaving research," Alcorn said. "As a result of government policies, the U.S. has conducted virtually no scientific research to understand or prevent gun violence for almost 20 years. These policies obstruct the access to and analysis of information related to firearms and violence, making it difficult to study the causes of this epidemic of violence."