The Supreme Court’s decision New York State Riflemen and Pistols Association v. Bruen represents the latest destruction of the once routine norms regarding U.S. gun safety laws. In this case, a majority of 6-3 votes concluded that New York State’s requirement to license a concealed handgun violates the constitutional right to bear arms, which lawyers believe is guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
New York’s regulatory system requires applicants to indicate a “proper reason” – a specific reason – to carry a concealed handgun. Six other jurisdictions (California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Washington, DC), covering a population of 80 million, have similar rules. This decision seriously calls into question all these laws, as well as other rules, if a future court concludes that the policy is not in line with the historical tradition of regulation. State lawmakers now face the challenge of making decisions that are consistent with the Supreme Court’s new approach to the rules.
So far, after several mass shootings in the last few weeks, everyone knows what is at stake. The few statistics we have are staggering. Death from a weapon reaches record levels, regardless of murder, suicide or accident. More than 45,000 people died from gunshot wounds in 2020. Firearms have also been a major cause of death for children. These deaths come amid rising domestic firearms sales. The most recent Small Arms Survey scores in the United States there are about 400 million guns. This international study was preceded by Fr. the growth of nine million firearms acquired during the first five months of the COVID-85 pandemic is higher than expected.
Despite this increase in deaths, guerrilla deadlocks often hinder the enactment of gun laws, and opponents of new laws often point to a lack of evidence that the proposed policy would reduce the damage caused by gunfire. The most effective tool for overcoming such claims would be objective research – if there were more. Unfortunately, there is not strong enough evidence of the best ways to reduce gun violence.
This is by design.
For more than 20 years, the federal government has not properly supported research into gun violence. We spent about $ 63 research on lives lost in gun violencecompared to approx $ 1,000 for a life lost in a car accident and nearly $ 7,000 for life a study of sepsis, a life-threatening reaction to infection.
Two decades without these critical investments have left us with many open questions about the implications of arms policy. This funding gap arose from the Dickie Amendment, which was introduced in 1996 to prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from promoting or promoting arms control. This rule was seen as a ban on all research on gun violence. Although Congress clarified the law in 2018 to allow research funding, there remains a large gap in data that has never been collected. We have limited rigorous evidence about the issues discussed in Bruen case like gun licensing, concealed carrying and unauthorized carrying. We even lack basic data on such fundamental issues as the number of non-fatal gunshot wounds in each state.
Trying to reduce the number of fatalities from weapons without this information is like trying to reduce the number of deaths on highways without having any information about the number of car accidents or research into the impact of seat belts.
Fortunately, universities and private philanthropists like our organization, Arnold Ventures, have stepped up to try to fill the gap in research. Non-partisan National Cooperation for the Study of Violence through Arms, which was launched in 2018 with the support of Arnold Ventures and other sponsors, has awarded more than $ 21 million for more than 44 research projects on a variety of topics, from intimate partner violence to suicide to self-defense. But even that is a drop in the bucket for the public health problem, so prevalent and relentless in the death toll.
The 2021 Health Management Associates (HMA) report, backed by Arnold Venture and the Joyce Foundation, says it will cost about $ 600 million over five years conduct the most important research and create the necessary data infrastructure to collect accurate information on deaths and injuries caused by firearms.
If you take this amount into context, NASA is spending $ 600 million on a new one space telescope to detect potentially dangerous asteroids. In other words, $ 600 million is a very reasonable price tag to better understand how we can prevent one of the leading causes of death in the US
Most of the proposed funding – about $ 475 million – will be needed to respond to this 100 Critical Weapons Research Questions identified by the Joyce Foundation Advisory Group of Experts. The rest would support the implementation Recommendations of the NORC expert group to improve the U.S. firearms data infrastructure at the state and federal levels (NORC is a social research organization based at the University of Chicago). This includes steps such as supporting local compliance with the National Incident Reporting System, tracking non-fatal gunshot wounds, and improving the timeliness of available data.
As the set of evidence begins to build, then RAND Corporation’s policy on weapons in America The program, also supported by Arnold Ventures, is working to document the highest quality research and determine which gun security policies are likely to save lives. So far, the clearest results point to laws to prevent children from accessing crimes that allow children to have uncontrolled access to firearms as the best way to reduce suicides and unintentional injuries, and that laws “stand on their own” increase violent crime. There is also evidence that inspections and bans based on domestic violence can prevent violent crimes, and waiting periods can reduce the number of suicides and violent crimes.
However, it is important to note that the lack of qualitative evidence does not mean that we should ignore basic logic. For example, even as we continue to investigate red flag laws, lawmakers should not hesitate to ensure that people suffering from suicidal ideation cannot easily access firearms. This is not only common sense but also compassion.
As for the impact of Bruen The RAND case found limited evidence – at least one high-quality study and no conflicting findings – that licensing and permitting requirements lead to a reduction in suicide rates, and limited evidence that covert transfer laws lead to an increase in violent crime. Data is difficult to obtain, and the evidence may be broader if we decide at the federal funding level that these questions should be answered. Philanthropy and university funding alone cannot answer these questions.
We are already seeing progress on the funding front. After clarifying the meaning of the amendment, the Wild Congress allocated $ 50 million for the last two federal budgets to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to further investigate gun violence. The bill, which provides for some security measures when using firearms, is also moving in Congress. This is a great start, but the lack of 20 years of research on gun violence and the resulting public policy has left us with no rescue answers at the time we need them most.
Scientists and researchers have an important role to play in helping politicians and the general public understand the challenge before us when it comes to combating weapons of violence. Although too frequent mass shootings and resulting political debates may dominate the headlines, the reality is that our fundamental understanding of gun violence is out of place. Weapons can be safer, and once and for all, we must answer projected doubts that they cannot or should not be evidence.
We hear about people suffering from armed violence and politicians who have been accused of rectifying the situation, but there is another story that also needs to be told. It is a story of how data, research, and evidence have been used throughout history to address critical public health issues and save the lives of Americans. This is a story about how we can help stop gun violence. The Bruen the decision leaves much room for evidence-based gun rules. Regardless of what the Supreme Court has ruled, a well-founded scientific basis for arms policy is more important than ever, and only the federal government has the resources to the scale needed to address the issue.
This is an article of opinion and analysis, and opinions expressed by the author or authors are not necessarily opinions Scientific American.