$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.