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Importance of firearms research
  1. David Hemenway
  1. Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor David Hemenway, Health Policy and Management, Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 2115, USA; hemenway{at}

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The US is an outlier compared with other high-income countries in terms of firearms and the problems they cause. While we have average rates of non-firearm crime and violence, we have by far the most guns per capita (particularly handguns) and the weakest gun laws.1 For example, in most US states, there is no licensure law for firearm owners, no registration of handguns and no training requirements for gun ownership. Not surprisingly, our firearm homicide, firearm suicide and unintentional firearm death rates are much higher than rates in other high-income countries.2

For most documented injury prevention success stories, data and research played an important role.3 Unfortunately, gun lobby groups have helped to prevent much of the data collection and funding for research that could have shed light on how to reduce our firearm-related public health and safety problems.4 5 One estimate is that, compared with other leading causes of death, gun violence had less than 5% of the volume of scientific publications predicted.6

Research is important for many reasons. It provides foundational knowledge about the various aspects of the problem, suggests what policies and …

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