California Approves Firearm Violence Research to Fill Gap Left by Congressional Restrictions

firearm-violence$5 million in state budget for University of California-based center

(Press Release from Senator Wolk’s Office) – California’s State Legislature voted late yesterday to establish a firearm violence research center at the University of California, filling the gap left by Congressional restrictions on firearms research, four days after the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

 “Acts of firearm violence like Sunday’s horrific mass shooting in Orlando leave us searching for answers. California made finding those answers a priority, taking leadership once again where Congress has failed,” said Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), whose legislation, Senate Bill 1006, was included as part of the state budget agreed to by the Governor and the Legislature and approved today.  “We in California already have benefitted from many years of research done at the UC Davis School of Medicine Violence Prevention Research Center. We know that using real data and scientific methods, our best researchers can help policy makers get past the politics and find real answers to this public health crisis to help save lives in California and throughout the country.  I thank the Governor, our legislative leaders, and the co-authors and sponsors of this effort for their support.”

The 2016-2017 state budget includes $5 million to establish the California Firearm Violence Research Center, to be allocated over a five year period. The research center will conduct interdisciplinary research to provide the scientific evidence upon which to base sound firearm violence prevention policies and programs. The center will also work with the legislature and state agencies to identify, implement, and evaluate innovative firearm violence prevention policies and programs.

Wolk’s effort to establish the research center is sponsored by the American Academy of Pediatrics, California, and the American College of Emergency Physicians’ California Chapters, and strongly supported by the public health community, gun violence reduction advocates, law enforcement, bipartisan coauthors, and others.

 “In light of the terrible shooting in Orlando—the worst mass shooting in U.S. history—it is more important than ever that we enact sensible gun safety reforms. One such reform is the creation of the Firearm Violence Research Center, which will fill the void created by the lack of federal gun research,” said U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “Thanks to the leadership of Senator Lois Wolk and Governor Jerry Brown, California can begin to answer critical questions related to the causes and effects of gun violence in our communities. This new research center will help do just that.”

Former Congressman and NRA member Jay Dickey (R-Arkansas), who authored the amendment that ended federally-funded firearm violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), joined with his former adversary Mark Rosenberg, former Director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, in support of the research center.

“It is crazy for any state to expect its legislators to vote on gun violence legislation if they do not know that it will be effective in both protecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners and reducing gun violence.  California​ is setting a very good example​ by supporting the research that will empower their legislators to protect both its citizens and their gun rights,” said Congressman Dickey in a joint statement with Mark Rosenberg, currently the CEO of The Task Force for Global Health.

“On a daily basis, my colleagues and I witness the profound physical and psychological damage inflicted by guns. In establishing this firearm violence research center, California takes a critical step toward developing the effective, evidence-based policies needed to save lives.” Said Dr. Marc Futernick the President, American College of Emergency Physicians’ California Chapters and cosponsor of SB 1006 .

“Pediatricians across California applaud the state’s decision to establish a university-based gun violence research center to inform effective, evidence-based policies to protect the most vulnerable among us, children and youth, against this public health epidemic,” said Kris Calvin CEO, American Academy of Pediatrics, California, cosponsor of SB 1006.

 “As our country grieves in the wake of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, we must seize every opportunity to help keep our fellow Californians safe from gun violence. That effort starts by allowing our experts do what they do best – conduct research that will save some lives,” said Congressman Mike Thompson. “I commend Senator Wolk for leading this effort and taking action to help address the epidemic of gun violence.”

“The establishment and funding of the California Firearm Violence Research Center is a huge victory for gun violence prevention in California. We are fed up with Congress’ inaction and its’ failure to provide the dedicated funding and support to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others to research gun violence at the national level,” said Amanda Wilcox, the Legislative & Policy Chair, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, CA Chapters.

She added, “We knew it was time to take matters into our own hands and get it done at the state level.  We know gun violence prevention research is part of a public health approach to reducing gun deaths and injuries and an essential element in formulating and carrying out good public policy.  We applaud the leadership of Senator Wolk for her tireless work to get this done.”

 “As law enforcement in charge of campus safety, we are keenly aware of the disproportionate number of active shooter incidents that occur on college campuses.  We strongly support more research into the causes of these incidents and effective policies to reduce future firearm-related  tragedies here in California and across the country,” Will Glen, President, California College and University Police Chiefs Association stated.

“Frontline law enforcement responds to the consequences of gun violence on a daily basis. The corrosive effect of these crimes takes an enormous toll, not only on the victims, but also on our emergency rooms, hospitals, businesses, peace officers, and communities. Establishing and funding a Firearm Violence Research Center in California will help fill the void in firearm violence research and bring us closer to identifying the causes of this devastating problem and finding evidence-based solutions,” said the President of the California Police Chiefs Association, Ken Corney.

Deborah Azrael, PhD, the Director of Research, Harvard Injury Control Research Center at the Harvard School of Public Health added, “I commend the California Legislature for continuing their high impact, evidence-based commitment to reducing the outsized toll of gun death. Prioritizing high quality research on the issue is another example of California’s important leadership on this vital public health issue.

“The White House has pointed out the need for state action on gun violence prevention, given the gridlock in Congress.  California, as is often the case, has once again taken the lead,” said Stephen Teret, Founding Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Duke Professor Philip Cook added, “The California Firearm Violence Research Center, by creating a data repository and funding for state-of-the-art analysis, can help produce the evidence basis for moving forward.  California will once again lead the nation in addressing a vital challenge in an area where the federal government has faltered.  Bravo!”

“Gun Violence is a complex biopsychosocial disease, requiring significant investment to reduce this burden. It is notable that the State of California would allocate funds for gun violence research,” said Stephen Hargarten, MD, MPH who chairs the Department of Emergency Medicine Director of Injury Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

The events of this weekend demonstrate to all of us once again the need to address the problem of gun violence through all the means available; high quality research is needed to make sure those efforts are effective,” stated  Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH, Professor and Vice Chair, Department of Pediatrics at University of Washington.

President of the California Medical Association, Steven Larson added, “Given the unfortunate frequency with which California physicians witness the physical and psychological damage of gun violence, CMA has long advocated for reasonable and responsible gun control legislation that makes our communities safer and our hospitals less crowded. Even as almost 3,000 men, women, and children are killed each year by firearms in the State of California, the federal government’s prohibition on the funding of research cripples the medical community’s efforts to combat the high rate of firearm-related violence. We applaud Senator Wolk for her courage in asserting California’s leadership in this vital field of research, especially in the absence of federal action.”

 “When it comes to gun violence in the U.S. what we don’t know is killing us. For two decades the gun lobby’s allies in Congress have blocked basic science by the CDC to prevent gun deaths, and the measures we have to address our country’s extraordinary rate of gun violence have been limited as a result. And that’s why establishing and funding a Firearm Violence Research Center in California is such an important victory: States are showing that they will no longer tolerate our epidemic of gun violence with their eyes closed — and California is leading the way by filling this critical research gap,” added Ted Alcorn, the Director, Research for Everytown for Gun Safety.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. nameless

    I am all for reasonable gun control.  Have no problem banning assault weapons.  But just some other food for thought about flaws in our legal system.  A student who rapes an unconscious girl is given a mere 6 months in jail.  A teen while driving under the influence of alcohol kills 4 people yet is given only probation under an “affluenza” defense.  When defendants like these scoff at laws and act with cruel indifference to human life, and judges continue to give such lenient sentences for egregious offenses, DUI and rape are going to continue unabated.  I am all for targeting the use of assault weapons, but there are other areas of the law that need to be addressed as well.  IMO both judges in the cases cited above should have been recalled at a minimum.

      1. David Greenwald

        Hpierce: Do we really a system where a judge has to look at public opinion before rendering a sentence?  I’m not defending the judge’s sentence in this case – it was grossly inappropriate- but I do fear the cure would be far worse than the disease.  I’ve spent the last ten years or so working in a jurisdiction where the egregious sentences leaned toward the extreme in the other direction.  I find it interesting the color of the people who are sentenced too leniently versus the color of the people who are sentenced too harshly. Coincidence?  I think not.

        1. hpierce

          I did not say anything near (ever) what you responded to…

          Hpierce: Do we really a system where a judge has to look at public opinion before rendering a sentence?

          I asked a simple question, and get your response retort…  whatever… perhaps your attempt to “look at public opinion”?…

          If anything, Nameless was citing public opinion as to deficiencies in sentencing, not me… but, whatever…

          BTW, check your grammar in the retort…it was “want”-ing…

          Have a good day, anyway…



    1. David Greenwald

      A person who steals a $1.99 package of shredded cheese gets nine years. A person who makes slashing motions in court while in restraints that no one sees faces 45 years.

      1. nameless

        Your point?  Are you trying to argue a teen while driving intoxicated, killing 4, should not have been sent to jail, or that the college student who raped an unconscious girl should have only gotten 6 months?  In case you missed my point, it is my considered opinion that when society allows those who commit serious criminal offenses that result in injury or death to victims to get off with light or no sentences, it breeds contempt for the law and is likely to result in more criminal activity.  In the case of the teen who killed 4, his parole was eventually revoked after he was found to have REPEATEDLY violated parole by attending alcohol fueled parties.  Why not?  He got away with killing 4 while driving drunk and nothing happened…

        1. David Greenwald

          The rape sentence was grossly inappropriate.  But My point is that egregious sentences work both ways.  Most in this jurisdiction are unduly harsh and most interestingly involve people of color.  I think these are far more common that overly light sentences.  I fear the cure to this will be worse than the disease.

        2. nameless

          Stop being so fixated on race for a darn second.  Do you or do you not believe that a teen who kills 4 in a DUI deserves jail time?  You clearly believe the student who raped the unconscious girl got off too lightly with only 6 months in jail.  Just because I am calling for harsher sentences than a slap on the wrist for egregious crimes, it does not follow that necessarily means harsher sentences will follow for petty crimes.  These are two separate issues, for goodness sake!!!  Issue 1: judges who give lenient sentences to wealthy kids.  Issue 2: judges who give extreme sentences for petty crimes.  The two issues are SEPARATE AND DISTINCT.

          1. David Greenwald

            I’m not as familiar with the specifics of that one – but most likely I would agree. Where I disagree is that the issues are separate and distinct. I also think if we track the sentences that are too light, they will have gone to whites (for the most part) and the overly harsh ones will have gone to people of color. I’m sorry but there is no other way to view this one.

  2. Tia Will


    I am all for reasonable gun control”

    And I agree. But we have no consensus as to what is “reasonable gun control”. We have many opinions, but unfortunately they tend to be contradictory.

    What I believe in is evidence based decision making. I believe that we should approach gun safety in exactly the same way that we approach automobile safety, or toy safety, or drug safety. We should encourage and fund research on a safer approach to gun sales, use, training and storage.

    I would call everyone’s attention to some slightly dated (2014) statistics from the CDC.

    Firearms related deaths ( all inclusive – accidental, homicide, suicide ) – 33,599

    Automobile related deaths – 33,736

    Drug poisoning – 38,718

    Suicide  – 42,773 ( all methods)

    Suicide by firearm  ( 2013) – 21,175

    Opioid related deaths – 28,000

    And yet, amongst all these largely preventable means of death, we have as a society, singled out gun related deaths as the one area in which we will not fund research on the national level.

    Yes, I agree that all the other issues that have been raised also need to be addressed, but gun related deaths are the only issue on this list that a deliberate blockage of research has been chosen. This is an unconscionable choice on the part of our national leaders.


    1. nameless

      Cut through the crap and the wringing of hands.  I think most people (except perhaps diehard NRA advocates who believe it will lead to a slippery slope of more gun control) can agree that assault weapons should be outlawed, period.  Assault weapons have no other purpose than to kill a bunch of people all at the same time.

  3. WesC

    It is a very sad statement on American culture that we have over 80,000 injured and over 30,000 killed annually from firearms and we are only willing to spend a paltry $1 million annually for 5 years to research firearm violence.  One million will probably pay for all of 1 research scientist, 1 research associate, an office manager, a couple of office assistants, and a couple of furnished cubicles. I’ll bet we spend more annually on cat food safety research.

    I think it would be nice if a GoFundMe innovative were started to adequately fund firearms violence research. I for one would be happy to donate.

  4. Jerry Waszczuk

    Guns are the American Heritage, culture  and big  business .  The forced guns control by legislature and government will create more problems than do any good .  I don’t own any firearms and don’t care for on way or another but I am against the  gun control with exception to mentally ill people , violent people  , felons and other folks whose mind should not be associated with any  fire arms .

    Personally I don’t understand why somebody wants to have machine gun at home . Powerful hunting rifles , shot guns or pistols for self defense is more than plenty. However, if  the people can afford to have arsenals  at  home than let them have  the  toys they liked and enjoyed . It Make America Great Again

  5. Tia Will


     if  the people can afford to have arsenals  at  home than let them have  the  toys they liked and enjoyed . It Make America Great Again”

    That approach fell short of “Making America Great Again” for the mother of Adam Lanza who was the gun hobbyist in the family, and the teachers and children of Sandy Hook elementary. I think that it is very  important to realize that most of these shooters were “law abiding citizens”…..right up until when they opened fire wth the “toys that they liked and enjoyed”.



  6. Marina Kalugin

    our “esteemed” gov’ment is stockiling guns, ammo and MREs as I type this….does anyone here trust them?   I don’t…

    There is a reason for the constitution and the second amendment rights….grab your guns while you still can…..

  7. Marina Kalugin

    and, Tia, every single mass murderer in the USA,  until this and the Riverside latest, were white boys on psych drugs….how many psych drugs do you prescribe in your daily work?

    perhaps not as many in your specialty I would reckon….but you already know what my thoughts are on the AMA and so on…


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