An infusion of private dollars, along with allocations from several state governments, is slowly expanding gun violence research, drawing in fresh energy, new ideas, and the kinds of cross-disciplinary work that can broaden understanding of a challenging problem, reports The Trace. In July, the National Collaborative on Gun Violence Research, a nonpartisan organization run by the RAND Corporation, awarded $9.8 million for 17 research grants. Funding for the grants came from Arnold Ventures, a Houston-based philanthropic organization. Winning applicants were chosen by a nonpartisan board and will investigate topics ranging from background check laws and the role of firearms in domestic violence to gun-carrying by high-risk youth and officer-involved shootings.
Collectively, the grants are among the largest awards dispersed for the study of gun violence since 1996, when Republicans in Congress used a budget rider known as the Dickey Amendment to ban federally funded research that would “advocate or promote gun control.” The National Collaborative’s grants are one of several philanthropic initiatives sinking significant resources into gun violence research. The Chicago-based Joyce Foundation says it has given more than $32 million to gun violence studies over the past 25 years. The Kaiser Permanente health system and Massachusetts General Hospital have each made seven-figure commitments to researching the problem. Other funders include the California Wellness Foundation, the Fund for a Safer Future, and the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine. California, New York, New Jersey, and Washington have launched research initiatives using state resources. Jeremy Travis of Arnold Ventures says, “The zeitgeist moment is even more intense now, and the urgency is even greater” because of the recent mass shootings. “There’s a heightened sense of political accountability to do something.”