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The role of research in addressing the public health problem of gun violence
  1. Frederick P Rivara,
  2. Richard Sattin,
  3. Andrea Gielen,
  4. Debra Houry
  1. Executive Committee, Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Frederick P Rivara, President, Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research, Box 359960, 325 Ninth Ave, Seattle WA 98122, USA; fpr{at}

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While the USA does not have the highest rate of firearm deaths in the world, it does have the highest rate among Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and high-income countries. The latest mass shooting in Newtown Connecticut stirred the country and the world in ways not seen before. Nevertheless, the hope for federal action on meaningful gun legislation has dimmed. How can this toll of gun deaths be reduced?

The answers are certainly complex and we need to know more. We believe that research on prevention of firearm violence is an important and necessary part of the solution. Yes, we do know that background checks have had an effect on inappropriate procurement of guns, although private gun sales currently require no background check. Laws mandating a minimum age for gun ownership reduce gun deaths. And we know that requiring …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.