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Gun violence is severely understudied compared to other causes of death, study finds

REUTERS/Rick Wilking
Each day, 306 people in the U.S. are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings and police interventions.

Gun violence kills more than 33,000 people in the United States each year, making it one of the leading causes of death in the country.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the annual rate of gun-related deaths in the U.S. is 10.2 per 100,000 people — the highest among industrialized countries. (Minnesota's rate is 6.6 per 100,000.)

Each day, 306 people in the U.S. are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings and police interventions. An average of 90 Americans die daily from such wounds, including seven children and teens.

Yet, despite the high death toll — as well as the 70,000-plus non-fatal injuries caused by guns each year in the U.S. — the funding and publication of research on gun violence is woefully low, as a study published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reports.

In fact, when measured by the number of research papers published, gun violence is the least researched major cause of death in the U.S.

Dr. David Stark of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, and Nigam Shah of Stanford University gathered CDC mortality statistics from 2004 to 2014 (the most recent year for which such data was available) for the top 30 causes of death. They then searched MEDLINE (the National Library of Medicine’s journal citation database) for the total number of papers published between 2004 and 2015 for each of those leading causes of death. Next, they combed through the Federal RePORTER, a searchable database of all research projects funded by U.S. government agencies, for data on studies that received federal funding from 2004 through 2015 for each cause of death.


An analysis of all that data revealed that gun violence research “was substantially underfunded and understudied relative to other leading causes of death, based on mortality rates for each cause,” write Stark and Shah.

Between 2004 and 2015, gun-violence research received only 1.6 percent of the federal funding that was predicted based on its death rate. Specifically, $22 million was dedicated to such research during those years compared to the predicted $1.4 billion.

In addition, the volume of gun-violence research (from all funding sources) that was published during the 12-year period was only 4.5 percent of what was predicted. A total of 1,738 research papers on gun-violence related topics appeared in MEDLINE journals when 38,897 were predicted.

Stark and Shah also point out that although gun violence killed about as many Americans as sepsis during the years studied, funding for gun violence research was about 0.7 percent of that for sepsis and publication volume was about 4 percent.

“In relation to mortality rates, gun violence research was the least-researched cause of death and the second-least funded cause of death after falls,” they add.

‘A public health crisis’

Last summer, the American Medical Association became one of the latest health groups to declare gun violence “a public health crisis,” and to urge Congress to overturn 21-year-old legislation that has prohibited the CDC from researching it. Congress has extended those restrictions to the National Institutes of Health.

“Although the legislation does not ban gun-related research outright,” write Stark and Shah, “it has been described as casting a pall over the research community.”

But with Republicans now in control of both houses of Congress — and with Donald Trump soon to enter the White House — it’s unlikely that the ban on federal funded gun-violence research will be lifted.

Last July, after the horrific mass shooting at the Orlando, Florida, nightclub in which 49 people were killed — congressional Democrats tried (yet again) to overturn the ban. Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee blocked those efforts, however, claiming that such research was just a ruse to overturn the Second Amendment and ban guns.

“This is not about a gun registry,” Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., a supporter of lifting the gun-research ban, told her colleagues at the time. “There is no gun confiscation. There is absolutely no harm to the Second Amendment. This is about research. My amendment is about research, nothing more.” Research, it should be stressed, that could help save lives — as research on the other 29 leading causes of death in the U.S. has done.

The gun-related death count has already begun for 2017. As of the end of yesterday — only three days into the new year — guns have claimed the lives of at least 111 Americans, including six children under the age of 12.

FMI:  The study by Stark and Shah can be found on the JAMA website.

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Comments (59)

Thank you

…Republican Party. This lack of research merely documents yet another triumph of ideology over common sense and, in fact, over humanity. As long as it's happening to someone else, I'd be surprised if people who like to call themselves "conservative" changed their stance. I say that, by the way, as the owner and user of multiple firearms.

I'd argue that we are no safer as a population with millions of guns readily available than we would be if those guns were not available. The way to test that assertion is to remove millions of guns from public access or circulation, which isn't going to happen, primarily because people who like to call themselves "conservative" too often equate owning and shooting a firearm with "manliness," or, if you prefer a less sexist bent for women, with "toughness." It's an argument that strikes me as sophistry.

It's just as easy and just as logical to interpret the 2nd Amendment as applying only to members of "the militia," i.e., the National Guard, as it is to endorse a constitutional right for virtually anyone to carry a handgun at any time, for any reason.

Guns and vehicle crashes cause roughly equivalent numbers of deaths and injuries annually, yet the requirements for getting a license to use each one are dramatically different. No license at all is required for a long gun, and the application process for handgun acquisition is relatively inexpensive and straightforward. Compare that to getting a driver's license, or registering to vote. It's a comparison worth thinking about, especially if one considers the ultimate purpose of each.

Fair Comparison but Old Data

Fair Comparison but Old Data. Consider 2015, the latest year for which data are available.


Now the truth about violent crime, like murder:

"After decades of soaring levels of homicides and drug violence, the country’s crime rate plunged dramatically over the last 25 years. What happened?"

"Violent crime decreased by one-third. What turned into a precipitous decline started later in some areas and took longer in others. But it happened everywhere: in each region of the country, in cities large and small, in rural and urban areas alike. In the Northeast, which reaped the largest benefits, the homicide rate was halved. Murders plummeted by 75 percent in New York City alone as the city entered the new millennium."

Traffic deaths on the rise and murder on the decline, yet no outrage about highway safety nor calls for research to understand this growing problem? I have made this proposal before, but it is not taken seriously as it is terribly inconvenient - a national speed limit of 30 MPH. I estimate that highway deaths could be reduced by 75%. However, we like to go fast, and the blood on the highway is the price we accept.

Very nice attempt at deflection.

The article isn't about the number of deaths, its about the lack of studies done for one of the major causes of deaths in this country. As for Traffic deaths, we have some very large companies who are studying them ALL the time, they're called insurance companies.

You do bring up a good point though, murders and violent crime has been going down for decades. Obviously you agree that's true, so why do you suppose the gun manufacture's lobbying arm, the NRA, keeps telling us the opposite. Listening to them you'd think that we are all about to be killed in our beds at any moment.

Traffic Deaths

Ray deserves the credit for bringing traffic deaths to the discussion.

We know about the downward trends in murder and violent crime because of data tracked and compiled by the FBI, CDC's National Center for Injury and Prevention and Control, the National Crime Victimization Survey, and the U.S. Justice Department, just to name a few.

I hear the same thing as you regarding the NRA, but never citing a source. Please provide a link.

NRA Link

NRA link from August 2016 says quite the opposite of what you claim.

Excerpt: (first two points)

"As gun ownership has risen to an all-time high, the nation’s total violent crime rate has fallen to a 44-year low and the murder rate has fallen to an all-time low.

Since 1991, when violent crime hit an all-time high, the nation’s violent crime rate and its murder rate have decreased by more than half, as Americans have acquired over 170 million new guns, roughly doubling the number of privately owned guns in the United States."

Guess we are playing Links!

The link shows where the US lands relative to the world stage: We are in good company 1 up from Uganda, 1 below Venezuela in totals. When you look at per capita, its better: 42/100K compared to Germany 8.44/100k. Yes Mr. Rose you win, we are only ~ 5 times more deadly in a reasonable comparison to a similar industrialized country. Seems for some folks that is a winning hand and there is no room for improvement.

One other point: Median gun ownership: We have more guns in the environment, that does not automatically translate to more gun ownership! See link below, actual individual gun ownership is at a 30 Yr low!

Good Data is Good

Thank you for the links; I prefer it to hearsay, especially false hearsay as called out in my comments above.

Is it meaningful to compare the annual murder totals of Venezuela (30 million pop.) to the United States (320 million pop.)? I agree that per capita, Germany is better. There was no claim that there is no need for improvement, just linked data showing that we are in a period of steady improvement. One notable exception is Chicago, where there were more murders in 2015 than Los Angeles and New York combined.

From your Washington Post link, “According to the survey, which was conducted among 1,001 Americans in the aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting.” Really? In the aftermath of a gun massacre, you ask 1001 people if they have a gun? From this, you extrapolate gun ownership of the nation? This is why it is important to have a link; to see what “research” is behind the data.

Even after this election, we treat polling like it is hard data, like it is truth?

I didn't invent statistics:

However, if we chose to use them, which you did in an earlier post, then we chose to use them, other options include goose entrails, horse doo-doo, star charts, and the witch doctor of our choice. However, as another posted below, we can't agree with statistical methods for our own purposes and then disagree when they don't. It is called legitimacy, logical deduction, common understanding, for many of us it is critical thinking, (meaning: I am OK to venture out into a topic and risk being wrong, but hopefully more enlightened) unless we prefer to walk around ignorant on certain things the rest of our life, this has been the heart of many discussions out here. Polling has a "reasonable" level of legitimacy if you believe in statistics, probability, math etc. Yes really, the answer is simple, I own a gun, I do not own a gun. If you were in manufacturing you would know there are things called "Military Sampling Plans" they have been around for perhaps 80 years or better. You do not have to ask everyone in a population to get a good reliable sampling.

Polling Data or Real Data?

Hard data, like the FBI uniform crime report, is useful in these discussions. That is what I chose to use, not telephone polls. As we all know or should, the results of a telephone survey can be affected by the wording of the questions, the way the questions are asked, and the current climate regarding the topic. How else would you explain the results of all the presidential polls?

From your Washington Post polling link, “Different national polls tend to show slightly different rates of gun ownership. The latest household gun ownership rate in the General Social Survey, in 2014, was 32 percent. The October 2015 Gallup survey showed a higher rate of 43 percent, including guns kept on property outside the home.” Of course polls like this admit to 4 or 5 percentage points uncertainty, so we are actually talking about a range between these two polls of 27% to 48%. Let’s pretend we know what we are talking about backed by all that.

As you know:

Because of the NRA: and gun owners, there is no hard gun ownership data base, lets not try to make our selves look smarter than we are, and think there is a wording loophole etc. that is escapism, we can all play that game, it really means, we aren't sincere in looking at the problem and or finding a rational solutions, or trying to use good judgement, its Machiavellian, lets use what we want to prove our case, and disregard the rest. I don't recall anything indicating "EXACT" numbers, So different poll numbers result in +/- 10%, the point still holds in either case the reasonable expectation is that less than 50% of Americans own guns, could be down to 27%. Which guys like me say do we have 27% of the population holding 73% hostage? .

PS: Presidential polls were conducted similar: And as discussed out here many, many, many times, the +/- on the polls was actually reasonably accurate to the end result. Just that if you lived on the other side of the river your vote counted more.

Less than 50%

Yes, less than 50% of Americans are firearms owners, and it will likely always be that way. Let's not waste millions of research dollars proving or disproving that assertion.

The gun registry is a very un-American idea; it is an invasion of privacy. What is the balance between benefit and risk? In my parent's lifetime, the German's showed up uninvited in Poland, and seized the gun registry records that were maintained in each town. The citizens of Poland were offered the choice of turning in those firearms to the Germans or being shot in the head. A government or our government could misuse this invasion of privacy, as we have seen in recent history.

cherry pick much

You like to cite that cars kill a lot of people each year (which is just one of those happy circumstances for those on the right), and yet you reject a firearm registry. Remind me, do they register cars (which kill a lot of people remember). Your specious logic is dizzying in its completeness.
Cars transport people and things - that's what they were designed to do. Guns kill things, whether people or animals, that's what they were designed to do. Sure, they have been co-opted for things like skeet and target shooting, but the fact remains, guns were designed to kill, not help people move from one area to another on a road. One's an apple, the other isn't. It's simple really.

A Happy Circumstance?

Hardly. As I stated, a reduction in speed could save most of the lives lost. It is however inconvenient and therefore will not receive the serious consideration it deserves.

Car ownership is not an issue of privacy, as many of us drive cars in the public daily and leave them resting in plain view at our homes. Motor vehicles are becoming a popular tool for terrorism, as we have seen recently at Ohio State, Nice France, Berlin Germany, Jerusalem, ...

The registration of these vehicles affords the public no safety.

"Live updates: Truck driver attacks crowd in Nice, killing dozens"

Numbers, without full context, are meaningless

If 306 individuals are harmed by guns each day, and there are estimated to be around 300,000,000 guns in the U.S., then around 99.96% of American-owned guns are not used to harm anyone each year.

This would lead one to believe that gun violence is a very specific problem, caused by a very specific few. Perhaps constantly focusing on easy, attention-grabbing, large targets like an entire political party, the gun industry, and the gun rights of the majority, is a wasted effort that only serves the goals of rather lazy extremists.

If you truly want to fix any problem. You must put effort into finding the actual cause, and then address that cause.

Comparing the funding required for such an endeavor with something like cancer research is ridiculous.

So let's have that context doing more research. I understand that there are apologist arguments for the gun lobby's position and have pretty much heard them all, but they don't relate to this article, which simply makes the case for professional research into gun violence.

The Point of the Article... I understood it, was to equate the problem of gun violence, and the resources allocated to studying it, with other causes of death. I do not believe that the merits for research are at all equal.

By that logic

By that logic, bacteria are surely not worth studying at all as a cause of death because guns are outnumbered by bacteria by more than 10^13x (that's a 1 followed by 13 zeros) but all other deaths only outnumber gun deaths by 78x. Surely, the deaths caused by bacteria are insignificant when "put into context."


A responsible gun owner

I must not have represented my point very well.

My numbers show that the problem of gun violence is very narrow and focused. It is not at all varied like the threats offered by bacteria.

If you remove illegal activity from the list of injuries caused by firearms, the percentage of "misused" guns is almost nonexistent in relation to the number of guns available.

The point of the article was to explain the need to fund more research into gun violence. I would argue that the "cure" to gun violence has already been found. We only need to remove politics, political correctness, and extremist agendas to begin to treat the problem.

I am curious

I understand what politics has to do with the problem as those with an extremest political agenda have barred the Center for Disease control from studying gun violence as a public health issue, they've silenced doctors from speaking about guns with their patients, they've cut funding from federal law enforcement agencies that might want to study gun violence, but how does political correctness come into it?

This is how I see it...

The CDC researches significant health threats to the public.

Criminal activity is the only arena that generates enough gun-related injuries to be considered significant.

A significant portion of the injuries caused by gun violence is isolated to a very narrow demographic.

Politicians want nothing to do with identifying issues within certain narrow demographics.

As far as extremists from both sides creating a stalemate... Gun rights advocates stubbornly defend gross loop holes in gun purchase restrictions. And, anti-gun groups continue to hide their ultimate goals and intentions, creating a high level of distrust from responsible gun owners.

A logical first step, in my opinion, would be for the anti-gun crowd to realize that gun injuries are limited to criminal activity that is perpetrated by a few. And, gun rights advocates need to recognize that additional restrictions to gun purchases need to be created and enforced.

When both sides can agree to gun purchase legislation that helps to limit access to guns by criminals, and does not restrict the purchase of guns by law-abiding citizens, we will be in a position to make real progress.

Extremism and political-correctness are the main hurdles as I see it.

Your numbers are not derived from competent research

"My numbers show that the problem of gun violence is very narrow and focused. "

Your numbers show nothing of the sort, nor can they, because your numbers are not the product of rigorous scientific investigation. You can't have it both ways, say no research is necessary, than claim to have research that confirms your thesis. The whole point here is that the congressional ban has prevented the research you'd need to support your claim. Without that research, your claim unsupported.

The numbers are readily available...

further evidence that funding additional research is not necessary.

The numbers that the author cited, and the numbers that I pulled, are readily available from numerous sources.

The cause of gun-related injuries is not difficult to ascertain. Any numbers that you refer to, as long as they are accurate, will point to criminal activity as the overwhelming source.

Criminals' access to guns is easily traceable. Steps to improve the situation are obvious, but extreme views and politics get in the way.

Funding for research is not needed. Results will only serve as weapons for the pointless arguments between the far fringes of each side. This is not a complicated problem.

Yes Luke, I see your numbers...

We see you have numbers, but those numbers are not drawn from independently rigorous scientific research. You simply cannot claim to have data that doesn't exist. Sure you can find numbers, but those numbers could be junk. For instance we simply don't know how many people cops shoot and kill every years because they refuse to keep track and report those shooting in any systematic way. That means the only way we even try to figure it out is to scan news articles and that's not state of the art methodology.

By the way, YOUR numbers are actually wrong, or at least your conclusions are wrong anyways. According the CDC:

In 2013, there were 73,505 nonfatal firearm injuries (23.23 per 100,000 U.S. citizens); 11,208 homicides (3.5 per 100,000); 21,175 suicides; 505 deaths due to accidental/negligent discharge of a firearm; and 281 deaths due to firearms-use with "undetermined intent", included in a total of 33,636 deaths due to "Injury ...

That means of the roughly 32,000 firearm related deaths in 2015, less than half were associated with criminal activity, unless you're defining suicide as criminal activity. So no, criminals are not the overwhelming source of firearm deaths. As for the 75k injuries, we simply don't know how many of those are related to criminal activity, THAT'S why we need research. Data collection tends to focus on fatalities, not non-fatal injuries. No one is collecting nationwide data on these injuries, we don't even keep track of ER visits associated with firearm injuries in any systematic way. And how exactly do you "associate" an injury with criminal activity in the first place? Are police shootings criminal activity?

We are all looking at the same numbers...

... and drawing different conclusions. My point is that gun violence is far from being a great scientific mystery that needs additional funding for research. The numbers are all available. All of the variables are measurable to the point that anyone can make, at the very least, sound assumptions.

In short, one absolutely cannot come to a conclusion other than that the vast, vast majority of American-owned firearms do not harm anyone. That means that a relatively small number do. Any problem that starts with that platform does not need significant funding and time and resources for a solution.

On the topic of suicide, I do not consider it criminal, but it is definitely in a gray area. Law enforcement will usually be involved whether the attempt was successful or not. If you do link suicide with criminal activity, the basis of your argument is lost.

Also, even though guns are the overwhelming tool of choice, to concretely link guns with suicide is a bit of a leap. If guns were not available, one cannot conclude that suicide numbers would decrease. It would just take one creative, but unfortunate, soul to come up with an equally efficient method.

Accidental/negligent deaths can certainly fall under the criminal category depending on the case.

Police shootings are absolutely related to criminal activity, whether the shooting was justified or not.

Logical conclusion:

we need not investigate car crashes that kill people, because the vast majority of cars in America do not get involved in fatal car crashes, we do not need to investigate breast cancer, because the vast majority of Americans do not have cancer, etc. etc.

Logical Indeed

There are thousands of ways that a vehicle can malfunction. They are very complex machines that are growing more complex at a very fast rate. And, there are thousands of ways that a vehicle can be misused. Much work needs to be done.

The causes of breast cancer are varied, and only understood on a limited basis. We do not have acceptable ways to control, prevent or stop it. Much work needs to be done.

Guns are misused/handled and people are put in danger. This is due to carelessness. There is a very simple sequence that must be followed in order to fire a weapon, or safely store it.

Or, guns are purposely used to put people in danger. This happens in war, law enforcement or criminal activity.

Bad math!

Because there are 300,000,000 guns in the environment does not equate to one gun per American, see earlier post. Some people have lots of guns, some have none. It isn't like 300 M folks locked and loaded 24/7. The logic seems to be pretty shaky.

The math is too simple to mess up

The saturation of guns in America proves that the firearms themselves are not the root problem.

The relatively small number of gun incidents makes identifying their cause a very simple problem.

What is it about gun violence that you do not understand?

There is a limited amount of funding to go around. Looking at all of the problems we are facing, you want to spend a chunk of it on "figuring out" gun violence?

Let's not forget

The Second Amendment has nothing to do with individuals' rights to own guns. It pertains only to states' rights, regardless of what the NRA has been saying for years, much to the detriment of American society.

The ability of the misguided leadership of the NRA to frame the debate about the meaning of the 2A is has been masterful but shameful. Read it. Then read the history of its writing. It is very clearly meant to prevent the federal government from passing any laws that forbid states from having their own militias, which, when the Constitution was written, meant militias used by the slave states to round up fugitive slaves.

In the history of the U.S. the Supreme Court always interpreted the 2A to refer to states rights (most of the time, they wouldn't even hear cases regarding gun control; states have the right to curb gun ownership any way they wish) until the revisionists of the Scalia court.

For just one of many histories and resources regarding this topic, start here:

And let's not forget...

That none of our "rights" is unlimited or completely unrestricted. Even Scalia admitted that the 2nd Amendment even if interpreted with wide discretion doesn't mean anyone should have any gun they want for whatever purpose they choose.

The ban on research is a transparent effort to block any rational discussions regarding gun safety and regulation.

"Block Any Rational Discussions"

It seems that we are having that rational discussion right here, unabated.

This October 2015 article from Pew Research Center graphs data available for study and discussion from the CDC's National Center for Injury and Prevention and Control, the National Crime Victimization Survey, and the U.S. Justice Department.

The CDC is not allowed to “advocate or promote gun control” (wording of the Dickey amendment), which is what the CDC had been using their "research" to do. There is no research ban.

Some of us...

Are having a rational discussion, but none of us can have a productive discussion because we don't have the same data that we would have with a simlar discussion regarding something as simple as air bags in cars. The fact that some of us are rational no matter what we discuss, doesn't negate the fact that practical bans on firearm research effectively forestalls rational policy. We have people claiming that pencils are just as dangerous as guns and they won't let us even investigate that claim... that's not "rational".

Tell Us About This Research Ban

This column states, "“Although the legislation does not ban gun-related research outright,” write Stark and Shah, “it has been described as casting a pall over the research community.”"

What type of information is being withheld from the conversation that is available to us regarding airbags?

The Brady campaign has an annual budget of about $4 million; surely they spend some of it on important research.

Research bans

As the article clearly states, it's not an explicit ban, but it bans the CDC or the NIH from spending any money on firearm related research.

This is how research works: scientists come up with ideas for research, and they apply for grants. Those grant proposals detail the subjects, justifications for research, and methodology, and that research is published in peer reviewed journals thus insuring the highest standards of methodology and reliable data.

The CDC and NIH are one of the larger sources of health related grant funding for a lot of general and public health related research. If there's no funding available for some type of research, then no one can apply for grants, and no one bothers to develop research in that particular area. This is how a ban on such grants can effectively prevent research on a given subject. And that's what's been happening with potential firearm research for over two decades in the US. No one is "withholding" information, the data just are not being collected.

Now Steve and Luke may not be able to imagine any aspect of firearm safety that could be investigated, but that doesn't mean no scientists could imagine fruitful avenues of investigation. I don't imagine Steve or Luke could imagine a grant application for research in quantum physics either, but that doesn't mean there's point in studying quarks or dark matter.

In the meantime here are some aspects of firearm violence that could be investigated but haven't due to lack of funding:

1) We have no idea how many people law enforcement actually shoots and kills every year. Given the fact that the killing of citizens by the state is one of the most serious actions any government can take, it's actually quite amazing that this data is not collected in any systematic way so citizens and our elected officials can study and review it.

2). We have no reliable data regarding the types of guns involved or the circumstances of accidental shootings. Given the fact that around 75,000 shootings of this type occur every year such data has obvious public health and safety applications. I suspect for instance that semi-automatic clip fed guns are more dangerous than revolver types. I suspect that the majority of accidental shootings are the result of people not realizing that the gun is loaded, and it's more difficult to make that mistake with clip magazine pistols than revolvers. If I'm right, it would make sense to recommend to that home buyers and others looking for a self defense hand gun buy a revolver instead of a clip fed semi-automatic weapon. That could save lives, but we have no actual data on this, and cannot collect such data because the research funding is not available.

3) One of the most popular reasons that people buy guns is self defense. Most of the research based on collections of news reports indicates that you're actually making your home more dangerous by owning a gun. The odds of fighting off an intruder are far less likely than someone accidentally shooting a family member or themselves. Toddlers for instance killed more people with guns than did Islamic terrorists in 2015. But the truth is we don't have reliable data on this. That data has obvious public safety and health applications. If guns put families in more danger rather than less danger we could recommend and develop alternative methods of home defense that would be more effective and less dangerous.

Of course research scientists could imagine many more avenues of research that could produce useful data but that's not going to happen as long as the grant money isn't available.

The Dearth of Research

You presented a lot of information, facts, and numbers for a person claiming that there is a dearth of research.

The CDC is not allowed to “advocate or promote gun control” (wording of the Dickey amendment), which is what the CDC had been using their "research" to do. The CDC over-reached and got their wings clipped. As this column admits, there is no research ban.

Using your numbering

1) Databases of law enforcement shootings are kept and reported by both the Washington Post and Guardian. Updated estimates from the Bureau of Justice Statistics released in 2015 estimate the number to be around 930 per year.

2) Information regarding the safest firearm for an individual is best provided at the point of sale. A gun salesperson can interact with the purchaser about how they intend to use and safely secure a gun. It seems people are less likely to find that information in a research paper.

3) The more danger than less danger myth still persists from the Kellerman “study”. He was the researcher that refused to release his “data”. Researcher Don Kates reveals that all available data now indicates that some of the "home gun homicide victims” in Kellerman's study were killed using guns not kept in the victim's home. Oops.

"Guns in the Medical Literature -- A Failure of Peer Review" by Edgar A. Suter MD recommended reading


"It is philosophical bias, rather than scientific objectivity, that characterize the debate on gun control. [1] Despite a pretense of scientific objectivity and method, the medical literature is no exception. As an example of the naked bias, consider the stated no-data-are-needed policy [2] of the New England Journal of Medicine. Consider the illogic and prejudice of its editor's recent proposal that if a little gun control does not work, then, certainly, more gun control is needed. [3] As this paper will document, errors of fact, design, and interpretation abound in the medical literature on guns and violence. Many have credulously restated the opinions of partisan CDC researchers, but given short shrift to the refuting data and criticisms. For matters of "fact," it is not unusual to find third hand citations of editorials rather than citations of primary data."

Let me explain

The practical effect of prohibiting any research that arrives as a given conclusion, i.e. something should be done to restrict firearms, is to prohibit any research. It's like telling scientists they can study the sun, but if they discover that sunlight causes skin cancer they can't publish the results. It's a clever way of banning the research, but it's pretty transparent never the less.

1) The "databases" your referring to are newspapers, and the "data" they have is drawn from new accounts, not rigorous scientific study or even a systematic reporting system of any kind. The fact remains we have no mandated or systemic method of knowing exactly how may people law enforcement shoot and kill, or who those people are, or the circumstances of their killing.

2) Salespeople are not the best sources of safety information, especially when they profit from sales. The most dangerous and effective firearms are also the most expensive firearms therefore the idea that salespeople would put safety above profit, i.e. sell cheaper safer guns instead of more expensive less safe guns, is a weird recommendation. People didn't learn about Toyota's problems with accelerator pedals on the showroom floor. And at any rate, salespeople simply cannot share knowledge that they do not possess when the research and data don't exist.

3) Whatever your problems with the Kellerman study or any research, those concerns can only be addressed by further research and replication. If there is a problem with a study or methodology the only way that problem is revealed is by further research, you can't ban research AND pretend to issue scientific judgments.

That Suter article your pointing to was published in 1994 by the way, and the version you're pointing to is not a peer reviewed version.

And I forgot...

There's another obvious avenue of research regarding guns- gun safety itself. The gun lobby has been fond of claiming that gun safety instruction mitigates the inherent danger of firearms, i.e. guns are perfectly safe so long as they're handled properly. Well there's no data to support that. It would be a really nice to know just what is the real effect of firearm training, does it really reduce accidental shooting? And what kinds of training are the best? How often or whether or not should gun owners take refresher courses? What are the age characteristics of effective training? We got nothin on any of this.

Again, the practical affect of the republican ban is that the gun lobby can make any claim they want and there's data to challenge or confirm those claims. But they sell a lot of guns by making those claims don't they?

Following the Sandy Hook tragedy ...

Following the Sandy Hook tragedy, President Obama issued a list of Executive Orders, among them the CDC was given $10 million to research gun violence.

“Year after year, those who oppose even modest gun-safety measures have threatened to defund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it,” Obama said January 16. 2013.

What did they learn?

Besides the federal government, other entities research gun issues unabated. Included among them is the Harvard Injury Control Research Center.

I'll explain

It takes years to go through the grant application process, design, implement, write, and submit a peer reviewed article. Any study's that may have been begun as a result of Obama's directive have like not been submitted for publication yet. There may also be legal problems associated with Obama's directive, I'm not sure Obama can authorize research that congress has effectively prohibited, and scientists may not have applied for the grants given the murky nature of congressional orders to the CDC.

Again, this is how science works, the feds, i.e. the CDC and NIH, the Energy Dept. etc. don't do the research themselves, (much of the time) they make grants available to scientists like those at Harvard, the U of M, etc. Just because you find someone somewhere doing research, that doesn't mean the research is properly funded and adequate. This article presents a study telling us that the research is NOT adequately funded or as extensive as it should be. According to the abstract these researchers took programs like Harvards into account and still find that funding and publication are far below that which should be expected.

Agree with Paul:

This is a list of books written: Not Government funded research: Publication dates, 2009,2006,2005,2003 If not mistaken Obama didn't become president until 2009.
Private Guns/Public Health 2006
Funding Joyce foundation.
Gee, looks like the **** against the wall doesn''t stick! But thanks for the goose chase, just broadens my horizons and understanding.

List of books written?

It seems you didn't include a list of books.

‘I’ve Got a Pen and I’ve Got a Phone’

‘I’ve Got a Pen and I’ve Got a Phone’ the President famously bragged in January 2014; I am sure that he can authorize some research. I've heard that the next President is going to get a pen and a phone too. The fact that nothing has come of those research dollars speaks to the glacial rate at which the federal government moves. This is how federally funded science works. Those of us that have worked with the federal government are painfully aware of this.

"funding and publication are far below that which should be expected" That sounds like the product of more gun research and research that may not be unbiased.


It was your link not mine, I just went and investigated it that's what I found. Remember all funding has to come through the house of representatives, seems that is in the constitution someplace! Sorry that blows your whole idea that Obama had all the purse strings, he only gets to spend what congress authorizes, seems I heard that in high school civics back in 1966. Article 1 Section 5 (there is of course some discussion if the senate qualifies.

Study Commissioned by President Obama

“Self-defense can be an important crime deterrent,”says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The $10 million study was commissioned by President Barack Obama as part of 23 executive orders he signed in January. So much for high school civics.

All they have to do is say no!

United States presidents issue executive orders to help officers and agencies of the executive branch manage the operations within the federal government itself. Executive orders have the full force of law when they take authority from a legislative power which grants its power directly to the Executive by the Constitution, or are made pursuant to Acts of Congress that explicitly delegate to the President some degree of discretionary power (delegated legislation).[1] Like both legislative statutes and regulations promulgated by government agencies, executive orders are subject to judicial review, and may be struck down if deemed by the courts to be unsupported by statute or the Constitution. Major policy initiatives require approval by the legislative branch, but executive orders have significant influence over the internal affairs of government, deciding how and to what degree legislation will be enforced, dealing with emergencies, waging wars, and in general fine-tuning policy choices in the implementation of broad statutes.

Compliments Wikipedia

And they didn't ...

And they didn't say no! This further debunks the assertion of this column that the CDC and NIH are prohibited from conducting gun violence research. Yet this column quotes, “it has been described as casting a pall over the research community.”

Make up your mind Steve

Are you saying there is no ban or are you complaining that researchers want to violate the ban?

“Despite a 2013 executive order by President Barack Obama to resume research on gun violence, the CDC has adhered to a two-decade-old Congressional restriction that effectively bans such inquiries. Now here was a document suggesting it was tiptoeing back in. “

My Mind is Made Up

The Dickey Amendment states, "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control". So the CDC would not be permitted to fund and report a study like Kellerman. A gun study that was not set up to advocate gun control would include the defensive use of guns in home invasions. Unlike Kellerman, a fair and non-advocating study would not count guns brought into the homes by criminals as guns in the home.


We can only fund research that confirms your personal beliefs... got it.

Apparently, you don't.

We stopped funding "research" that confirms your beliefs, and now require that it not be agenda-driven.

Results of Obama Authorized CDC Study

It took a little digging, but it seems some Obama-authorized research was conducted and reported in 2013. The results may surprise you.

“Self-defense can be an important crime deterrent,”says a new report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The $10 million study was commissioned by President Barack Obama as part of 23 executive orders he signed in January.

“Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies,” the CDC study, entitled “Priorities For Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence,” states.

The report, which notes that “ violent crimes, including homicides specifically, have declined in the past five years,” also pointed out that “some firearm violence results in death, but most does not.” In fact, the CDC report said, most incidents involving the discharge of firearms do not result in a fatality.

Swinging and missing

"glacial" rates of research aren't a feature of government funding. Thousands of studies are funded, carried out, and published every year in this country. We developed an Ebola vaccine within three years despite the fact that Ebola killed a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of those killed by guns in the US and around the world. Federally funded science works very well, but you don't get something for nothing, you can't deny funding for firearm research and expect to see a bunch of research flow out of the scientific community.

So no, this isn't a "big guvment" problem, it's a republican ban on research problem, the same thing that delayed AIDs research during the Reagan administration and got thousands of people killed.

Your Words

Directly above, "It takes years to go through the grant application process, design, implement, write, and submit a peer reviewed article." This was your "big guvment" explanation as to why we had no results from the Obama executive order CDC research, which was actually performed and reported in 2013.

A salient point from the research: "“Studies that directly assessed the effect of actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was ‘used’ by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies,”

Still debate gaming?

I think this is the third time now that I've pointed out the FACT that the report you're referring to is not a peer reviewed published research paper studying gun violence or safety. It's preliminary report who's function is to suggest topics and areas for future (in the next 3-5 years) properly peer reviewed research. I've provided a link the document itself and it's nature and purpose are clearly defined. You can take quotes out of context all you want and misrepresent the document as something that is not, but we can all look at it for ourselves.

Again, the quote you provide is NOT a research finding, it's a summary (taken out of context by the way- you can look at my complete excerpt below) of sparse data that requires further research. The salient finding of this document is that ALL of the research done to date, including that which finds lower injury rates among gun owning crime victims, is inconclusive or unreliable and requires more rigorous study. A finding by the way that supports the claim of this Minnpost story.

This is the problem with "debate games". Mr. Rose has actually discovered (apparently after much difficult searching) a document that completely refutes the argument he's been making for days and he dosen't even realize it because he's too busy trying to score debate points instead of understanding the subject matter.

If it were just commentors on Minnpost it could be comical but it's not- this is our president, this is our Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority, and our State Legislators, and an entire media noise machine. This is an anti-intellectual movement that has crippled our ability to deal with even the most basic issues.

2015 CDC Gun Research

Yes, in my comment posted yesterday, I acknowledged that the citation is not peer-reviewed research. Not that I presented it as such, bu you are correct. In that same post, I linked (again and directly) the Final Report of this 2015 gun study that carries the CDC mark. I only hope that it meets your high standards for academic rigor.

The Document ...

The document, to which you refer, refutes your argument (stated twice) "It takes years to go through the grant application process, design, implement, write, and submit a peer reviewed article." We couldn't possibly expect peer reviewed and published research, yet here it is.

Complaining about the argument rather than sticking to it and engaging in it seem to be a recurring problem.


I think the contrast between science and debate games has been wonderfully and clearly illustrated here and I think it's clear why science, not debate gaming, needs to inform our policy. We can be smart, or we can be political. Let's try being smart for a change.

Debate games and Whack-A-Mole

Yeah, the problem with debate gaming is it's not legitimate intellectual work. Legitimate intellectual work requires integrity, you have to care about whether or not your getting it right, it's not about scoring points in some imaginary socio-political game show.

Here we have a "link" :

It's a real link, to a real web page, but it's wrong.

The website itself is "CNSNEWS" which just another one of those conservative/republican FOX news wannabes claiming to balance "liberal" bias. Like FOX all they're really doing to obscuring facts and manufacturing misinformation.

This particular claims that: "CDC Study: Use of Firearms for Self-Defense is ‘Important Crime Deterrent’"

Here's what the report actually says, I think an extensive quote is in order:

"...Studies that directly asses the actual defensive uses of guns (i.e., incidents in which a gun was “used” by the crime victim in the sense of attacking or threatening an offender) have found consistently lower injury rates among gun-using crime victims compared with victims who used other self-protective strategies (Kleck, 1988; Kleck and DeLone, 1993; Southwick, 2000; Tark and Kleck, 2004). Effectiveness of defensive tactics, however, is likely to vary across types of victims, types of offenders, and circumstances of the crime, so further research is needed both to explore these contingencies and to confirm or discount earlier findings.

Even when defensive use of guns is effective in averting death or injury for the gun user in cases of crime, it is still possible that keeping a gun in the home or carrying a gun in public—concealed or open carry—may have a different net effect on the rate of injury. For example, if gun ownership raises the risk of suicide, homicide, or the use of weapons by those who invade the homes of gun owners, this could cancel or outweigh the beneficial effects of defensive gun use (Kellermann et al., 1992, 1993, 1995). Although some early studies were published that relate to this issue, they were not conclusive, and this is a sufficiently important question that it merits additional, careful exploration." pp 16-17

In other words, contrary to the CNS headline, nowhere does the report conclude that firearms are an important crime deterrent, rather it recommends further study and points out that the previous research may be unreliable. You can all read the CDC report itself here:

A couple other things to note about this resport:

1) This is NOT a peer reviewed published research finding. This is report compiled by a committee that was assembled to recommend subjects and direction for further scientific research on firearm safety and violence. It summarizes previous studies and confirms that research thus far is inadequate.

2) As I've already explained at least twice, the reason you can't find the research is it doesn't exist, and the reason you'll not find the post Obama directive research findings is because the research hasn't been done or completed. From the report:

" The committee identified potential research topics by conducting a survey of previous relevant research, considering input received during the workshop, and using its expert judgment. The committee was not asked to consider funding for the research agenda, and in addition to the CDC, it is likely that other agencies and private foundations will also implement the research agenda. Consequently, the committee identified a full range of high-priority topics that could be explored with significant progress made in 3-5 years." pp 2

Note, the soonest the committee expected any research results would emerge from this process was 3-5 years. That was in 2013, we just crossed over to 2017. This confirms my previous explanations.

3) If you want to conduct yourself with integrity, and share reliable information, provide links to the actual documents, not some hack news site's story about the document.

By Your Numbers

1) Not peer reviewed, but presently what we have and according to you, all we should expect four years later. Yes, the report reviews and quotes previous research (quoted above), and yes researchers claim that more research is needed; no surprise, as that is what they do.

2) "The CDC Just Released a ‘Gun Violence’ Study"
“Despite a 2013 executive order by President Barack Obama to resume research on gun violence, the CDC has adhered to a two-decade-old Congressional restriction that effectively bans such inquiries. Now here was a document suggesting it was tiptoeing back in. “

3) In case you couldn’t find it, link to the Final Report, carrying the mark of the CDC: