injury or to implement well-evaluated educational programs or licensing arrangements for gun purchasers.


There are numerous unanswered research questions concerning the role of firearms in injury occurrence and the optimal interventions for reducing firearm injury. The nation's recent focus on the larger issue of violence has increased research and program funding for violence prevention at the Department of Justice. Additionally, other federal agencies are conducting research on violence-related issues, including a focus on violence in the workplace by NIOSH and a focus on the biological and behavioral correlates of violence at the National Institute of Mental Health. The National Science Foundation has recently funded a university-based National Consortium on Violence Research. Federally sponsored research that is specifically focused on firearm injury has been funded primarily through the Office of Justice Programs. Additionally, the NCIPC has funded epidemiologic research and state surveillance efforts. The remainder of this section outlines some of the research questions and issues that should be considered in framing a comprehensive research agenda with the goal of reducing firearm injury.

To design interventions that may protect particular high-risk groups identified by surveillance mechanisms—such as teens, inner-city dwellers, domestic violence victims, or the elderly—more information is needed on common causal sequences; victim and perpetrator attitudes toward guns, gun storage, and potential alternative self-protection devices; prevalence of gun use in various settings; and environmental and behavioral risk factors for gun misuse. Although most domestic violence fatalities are caused by guns, the role of guns in relationships that involve domestic violence—for example, in intimidation, self-protection, and other roles—has not yet been well studied. Patterns of mental stress related to prevalent or intimate exposure to gun injuries and death remain to be fully elucidated; such research is needed in multiple sociodemographic settings. Rigorous studies are required of the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions designed to reduce the risk of firearm injury.

Research should be expanded on gun markets to elucidate the flow of firearms from the legitimate sector to the hands of minors and criminals, and how this flow might effectively be interdicted. The main "leakages" from legal gun commerce include theft from private vehicles and homes (more than half a million per year), casual transfers by friends and family, and illegal sales by licensed dealers (Cook and Ludwig, 1996). In some cities, interstate gunrunning is also an important source of guns in crime. Developing effective countermeasures that will limit illegal gun commerce requires im proved understanding of the economics of the relevant "black" and "gray" markets.

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